Tuesday, March 13

R U What U Eat?

Konnichiwa, ya'll.

Linda Gerber here, author of a couple of the SASS books (NOW AND ZEN and the soon-to-be-released FINNISH LINE) and the upcoming mystery DEATH BY BIKINI. I live and write in Japan and I have to tell you, the whole exercise thing is a little different over here. Do I work out? Sure. Every time I go somewhere. Driving short distances is crazy because the roads are so small and gas is so expensive and parking is limited, so everyone bikes or rides the train. I may not have a set work out schedule, but I get my aerobic excercise by default whenever I bike around town or climb the steps at Tokyo station or try to push my way on to the train.

But what I really want to talk about is food.
Ever hear that old saying, 'you are what you eat?' Not a pleasant thought when a plate of squid heads is set down in front of you. (I am not kidding. Just a couple of weeks ago, when we were on a ski trip up in Naeba, we went out to eat and the proprietor brought our group a special treat - fried squid heads. I actually ate one. But that's another post.) How about a bowl of rotting beans? (Really. The stuff is called natto and people actually eat it.) Or deadly fish? (If not prepared exactly right, fugu (blowfish)can kill you.)

Weird stuff aside, I think there's something to that adage. Ever notice how when you eat a lot of junk food, you end up feeling kind of meh? I'm speaking from experience here, being a lover of pizza, chili-fries and all things chocolate. Er, not together. Usually. Point is, I really do feel much better when I eat things like fresh fruits and veggies and really good whole wheat bread (which is very difficult to find in Japan.) I eat junky, I feel sluggish. I eat healthy, I think clearer and have more energy. Any one else find this to be the case? What's your favorite junk food? How to you balance it with the healthy stuff? (Or are you one of those people who can eat whatever they want and they will still stay skinny and energetic and ravishing?)


Sara Hantz said...

I'm a total fries addict - I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But I agree with you about feeling better when we eat well. Just before Christmas last year I gave up diet Coke. OMG. After a week of headaches, I noticed the difference. And I haven't had a drop since (not counting the sip of someone elses the other day).

Alex Richards said...

You're post made me miss Japan like crazy! I went to visit a friend 2 years ago and had the time of my life.
1) you're so right about the whole wheat bread. What's up with that? My friend and I were jonesing for bread and went to a bakery and our bread had sugary bean-paste throughout. Uh, not quite what we had in mind!
2) Raw egg=yuck! The Japanese crack a raw egg over everything. Not a big fan of that. (even salad. come on guys, it's a SALAD!)
3) I LOVE sushi. I could eat it every day. It's healthy, filling, doesn't use butter or oil--but it's impossible to find in Japan! I hadn't realized that it was a "special occasion" cuisine, which was too bad, because I'd been hoping to eat the stuff every day on my trip!

Thanks for letting me reminisce. As far as junk food goes: I love cookies, mac and cheese, chinese food. But I've actually become pretty good at making healthy, low-cal versions of the sinful classics. It's working out pretty well for me. :)

Gerb said...

Give up Diet Coke? No way.

I've become such an addict. It was one of the few familiar comforts when I moved to Japan, even though it was harder to find than regular Coke. In fact, when I wrote NOW AND ZEN, I realized about halfway through the ms that I had projected my thing with Diet Coke to the mc Nori. But it felt real to me, so I didn't change it.

Anyone else find that they give their characters habits or addictions because they resonate with you as an author? How about you readers? Have you ever felt a kinship (or dislike) for a character because of their habits?

Gerb said...

Ohayo, Alex.

Where were you staying when you were in Japan? I have no problem finding sushi around here. It's everywhere - even at the convenience stores. My absolute favorite, though, is to go to the kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurants. There is a fantastic one on Omotesando. If you ever make it back this way, let me know and I'll give you directions. Good sushi is one of life's true pleasures.


Erica Orloff said...

I really believe you are what you eat. I follow a macrobiotic diet--no sugar, no meat, no chicken, no junk. Ever. I drink green tea . . . and except for the occasional martini (my one vice!), I really believe you've got to take care of your body and nourish it.

I gave up coffee about 8 months ago. I was a total addict. And giving it up was a b*tch. Totally. But now I feel a thousand times better.


Kaethe said...

Have you considered the idea that the "bleh" feeling isn't caused at all by what you eat? That perhaps you feel sluggish first, and that influences your choice of food, or perhaps that you're so conditioned as a female to obsess about food choices that "junky" choices elicit guilt feelings?

I am, and hope to remain, a Diet Coke addict.

Alyson Noel said...

I'm such a picky eater I actually survived 5 weeks of flight attendant training eating little more than frozen yogurt and fruit- the only items in the cafeteria I could stomach . . .And now, after my husband's entire immediate family was diagnosed with cancer, we've become decidedly pickier- no trans fats, organic when ever possible, and lots of green tea (with the occasional frozen yogurt!)

Lisa Asanuma said...

My dad's Japanese, and I've been there on short trips a couple of times... I'll admit that I'm one of those eaters of natto and raw eggs and things like that! (Not squid, though, OR fried shrimp-heads... that's a little beyond ME. lol) But I'll agree I think I got a lot of exercise in Japan while I was there, and even though my longer trip was only some three weeks, I ended up losing weight, despite the lack of whole grains. Heehee.

But this post had me hungry for odd Japanese cuisine... what can I say? I was raised on it! (Not that that means much. My sister won't eat any of it!)

Ginger said...

You remind me of when I spent a summer in Japan. I had to rely on the pictures on food packages and hope I was buying something I'd like. Since I'm a 'selective' eater, some of that stuff I just couldn't stomach. Mainly I ate fruit and veggies since I definitely recognized those. *s*

As a rule, I eat quite healthy and when I do eat junky food, I really feel it. I feel so tired, sluggish and just cranky in general.

That said, no way I can give up coffee or wine. I mean really...I am human.

As far as my characters taking on some of my preferences and traits, yes that happens to me all the time. But sometimes my characters will demand to eat stuff that I won't touch and I think they're gross. LOL

Ginger Calem

Nicole said...

I'm a pretty adventurous eater, so fried squid heads probably wouldn't bother me. Although, my sister was in Japan last year and ate raw horse. I'm not sure I could go that far!

I'm a sugar addict, and when I overload, boy do I notice it. Because I have such a sweet tooth, it's a challenge to find something that's not terribly detrimental to my diet that will satisy it. Right now I'm obsessed with No Pudge Brownies. Ever had them? It's a mix you make with nonfat yogurt. YUM. Of course, it's probably not so great that I top the brownie with ice cream...

And yes, I did grant one of my MCs with a coffee addiction. (I'm not terribly addicted to it, but I do love it). It was really fun to see what happened to her when she ran out of coffee in the middle of the 19th century wilderness!


Lisa Asanuma said...

I was also given raw horse! It's supposed to be quite a delicacy. I tried a bit of it, but one of the guys in my group ended up eating the majority of my portion.

Gerb said...

Oy. I have not been given raw horse that I'm aware of. I've tried a lot of other strange stuff, but not that so far.
Lisa, I think some tastes are acquired and possibly has something to do with association. My kids eat foods now that they would probably have never taken a liking to in the States, such as tofu and seaweed and fish paste because their Japanese friends all ate that stuff and it seemed like the cool thing to do.
And Kaethe, there might be a lot of "I really shouldn't be eating this" that is social conditioning, but I know when I eat junky I am not going to feel as good as I do when I eat well. No question.

Kelly Parra said...

My fave junk food is Mickey D's french fries. But I only eat them once in a blue moon because they are sooo bad for me and greasy. And when I eat healthy and cook healthy I feel wonderful, like I'm doing the best for the family too! haha. :)

bevrosenbaum said...

I totally agree, Linda. I've been eating better lately, too, and really feel the difference. The thing is, you can make healthy food taste really great. Now when I eat junk, I think, Ewwwwww--how can people think this is good?

stephhale said...

Fried squid heads? Ewww....
I can't wait until summer so that we can get some decent fresh fruits & veggies. I always eat worse in the winter. It's like I think I'm a bear going into hibernation! :)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I'm going to go eat some chocolate and give this matter some serious thought.

Marley Gibson said...

Great post, Linda! I read an article not too long ago about how the Japanese are upset over the infiltration of American fast food restaurants and how, for the first time in Japan's history, their children are the most overweight ever. I think you're totally right that whatever we put in our mouth is reflected on our body. Well, hopefully not the rotting beans. Gag...why would you eat that? LOL!!

Marley = )

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