Diet, weight loss and longevity with The Okinawa Diet

The Okinawa Diet program

The Okinawa Diet Food Pyramids

The Okinawa Diet Food Pyramid
Okinawa Diet Food Pyramid

A Guide to Daily Food Choices

The food pyramid concept is a great visual tool for helping us see clearly the food choices that we should be making. The Okinawa Diet food pyramid is based on 25 years of research and reflects the eating habits and patterns of the longest lived healthiest group of people in the world.

USDA Food Pyramid
The USDA Food Pyramid

The most well known food pyramid comes from the originator of the concept: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA food pyramid has come under much criticism lately and is seen by many as outdated. This has prompted the USDA to announce they will be revising their pyramid.

We hope they take note of the research behind the Okinawa Diet food pyramid during their revisions, as our research shows the Okinawa Diet food pyramid is a significant improvement upon the USDA food pyramid.

Let's compare the two pyramids. While there are definite similarities, the Okinawa Diet food pyramid shows more clearly how to divide foods into daily and weekly categories so that you can easily judge whether you are eating certain foods too often or not often enough.

Here are 5 other areas where we feel the Okinawa Diet Food Pyramid has improved on the original:

  • The top of the USDA pyramid ignores important differences among types of fats.
  • The dairy section should emphasize low-fat choices, and the two to three servings a day in the USDA pyramid may very well be too much.
  • Potentially health-promoting fish and beans are lumped in the same group with red meat. This gives the false impression that two to three servings a day of red meat might be healthy--it would not.
  • Vegetables and fruits should receive stronger emphasis.
  • The grain section should emphasize whole grains.

The Okinawa Diet Food Pyramid is a scientifically proven guideline for healthy eating. It is based upon the traditional dietary habits of Okinawan elders, who have been proven to have the healthiest diet in the world. We strongly encourage you to download the Okinawa Diet Food Pyramid, print it and post it to your refrigerator door, where it can serve as a convenient guide for you and your family in making healthy food choices.

The Okinawa Diet Caloric Density Pyramid

Reduce the amount of calories not the amount of food

Caloric density food pyramid
The Okinawa Diet Caloric Density Pyramid

The major concept behind the Okinawa Diet healthy weight management philosophy is the principle of caloric density. Simply put--it's the amount of calories per gram of food. Eat more food with a lower caloric density and less food with a higher caloric density. The net result is eating more food with fewer calories.

We all have to eat a certain amount of food to feel comfortably "full"--usually between two and three pounds a day. If we eat less than that we tend to feel those gnawing hunger pains often associated with dieting. So cutting back too much on the amount of food we eat is the wrong approach to weight loss. If you feel hungry all the time, sooner or later your willpower will crumble; then there goes the diet, and back come the lost pounds.

Calculating Caloric Density

Calculating Caloric Density is simple - a popular breakfast cereal lists a serving size at 3/4 cup or 32 grams. The number of calories per serving is 110. The CD is 110/32 = 3.4.

The Okinawa Diet approach - The Caloric Density Pyramid

Calculating CD is simple but an even better approach is to use The Okinawa Diet Caloric Density Pyramid. The CD values of many common foods have already been calculated and then ranked in the CD pyramid. The rankings are separated into four groups - featherweight, lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight:

  • Featherweights are foods with a CD of less than 0.7. You can eat as much of these foods as you want to--guilt free. This group includes foods like water-based vegetable soup 0.3; apples, berries, peaches, and most other fruit (~ 0.6), broccoli, squash, green peas, and most other veggies (~0.5); fat free yogurt 0.6; and tofu 0.6.
  • Lightweights weigh in with a CD of between 0.8 and 1.5. They can be eaten in moderation--that is, normal medium-sized portions a few times a day. These are foods like white flaky fish 1.0, cooked grains such as rice and pasta 1.4; sushi 1.4 and cooked beans 1.5.
  • Middleweights have a calorie density of 1.6 to 3.0. You want to have relatively small portions of these foods. Middleweights are items like hummus 1.7, red-fatty fish 1.8, whole-wheat bagel 2.0, soy cheese 2.5 and raisins 3.0.
  • Heavyweights, as the name suggests, are the most dangerous. They have a calorie density of more than 3.0 and usually have other negative nutritional traits associated with them. You have to eat these sparingly--less frequently or in very limited amounts. This group includes foods such as full fat cheddar cheese 4.0, graham crackers 4.2, plain rice cakes 3.8, bacon 5.0, smooth peanut butter, 5.9, butter 7.2, vegetable oil 8.8, etc. All these foods are either high in fat and sugar, or low in water content or fiber. Many of them are processed foods like doughnuts (CD 4.3) and corn chips (CD 5.4)--both processed grains; or French fries (CD 3.2), which are processed potatoes. Processing removes the fiber (non-digestible carbohydrate), often removes water, and frequently adds sugar or fat, making these foods the most calorically dense of all, and the most detrimental to your waistline and health.

Watching your CD enables you to eat plenty of food without getting plenty of calories. As the Okinawans have shown us, it is the most effective and healthiest lifelong weight management strategy going.