10 ingredients


As I wrote in a previous entry, Japan's nutritional guidelines specify 30 different foods a day.

If you eat a traditional Japanese diet, this isn't too hard to do. A classic Japanese meal is a variety of small servings: a simmered dish with carrot, diakon, taro, konnyaku; grilled fish served with ginger; pickled cabbage and cucumbers, a slice or two of sashimi, a salad of hijiki and beans; miso soup with clams; and of course, rice. Right there, you've got 14 foods out of the way!

But if you eat a more Western diet, getting up to 30 is really a challenge. Western portions are bigger and there are fewer dishes per meal. Steak, potato, cooked vegetable, bread, butter. That's only 5...maybe six if you eat the parsley garnish.

But the companies that make bento for convenience stores have hit upon a great idea. The "10 Things" food. It started out with salads. Today I bought a "10 Things" sandwich. It was pretty good for a conbini sando.

What was in it?

  1. brown rice bread
  2. chicken
  3. hijiki
  4. corn
  5. carrot
  6. soy beans
  7. lettuce
  8. greens
  9. milk solids
  10. mayonnaise

So that, combined with my fruits-and-vegetable juice (7 vegetables and 4 fruits), a container of yogurt and some raisins brings me up to 23 foods for today. 24 if coffee counts as a food.

All I need to do to reach the quota is remember to eat the garnish at dinner tonight...


Ever the skeptical one, I wonder why eating many different things is somehow better than a cognition-based approach involving informed choice. (Not that I'm questioning your sandou at all, it sounds like "10 healthy things"!)

I'm also curious where you found that advice attributed to "Japan," and whether you can point us to an English version on the web.

There's a good summary of the topic (in Japanese) at About.co.jp - http://allabout.co.jp/health/healthfood/closeup/CU20030118A/

It explains that this was a guideline set by the old MInistry of Health and Welfare in 1985 which was concerned that the increasing popularity of fast food and processed foods was unbalancing people's diets. But in 2000, the Ministry revised its guidelines, removing the reference to 30 foods, and replacing it with "many foods."

You can view the Ministry's leaflet (in Japanese) here: http://www1.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/1203/h0323-1_a_11.html

Also, a brief summary of the 1985 guidelines in English that cites "Florencio, C.A. Dietary Guidelines in Asia-Pacific. ASEAN-New Zealand IILP, Philippines, 1997." http://www.healthyeatingclub.com/info/articles/diet-guide/japan-dg.htm

Additionally there are at least a few books in Japanese that help you to properly portion your foods. One nutritionist gives very clear guidelines for estimating 100 gram portions of various foods. I've seen the book in Japanese, but not English and I can't remember the author's name. You should be able to find it in any bookstore, though it's got pictures of food and "100 grams" all over it.

Hope this is sufficient to ease your skepticism.

Milk solids? Like cottage cheese?

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