The Japanese art of intuitive eating: Its lessons and how to practise it

Shokuiku is a straightforward method that can promote weight loss and improve your general health. Picture: Pexels.

Shokuiku is a straightforward method that can promote weight loss and improve your general health. Picture: Pexels.

Published Jan 30, 2023


Shokuiku, which means "food instruction" in Japanese, is a way of life that encourages intuitive and balanced eating. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it was initially developed by Sagen Ishizuka, a military physician who also came up with the macrobiotic diet.

Shokuiku is a kind of eating that is founded on a number of fundamental ideas about what and how to eat. It has gained popularity in Japan and across the world over the last few decades.

A study titled "School-based ‘Shokuiku’ programme in Japan: Application to nutrition education in Asian countries" revealed that in 2005 Japan passed the Basic Law of Shokuiku, which required nutrition education programmes in schools to aid children in developing healthy eating habits using the concepts of Shokuiku.

The curriculum teaches kids how to read food labels, stresses the value of eating seasonally, explains how food is made, and explains how various life stages have distinct nutritional requirements.

Guiding principles for Shokuiku:

It is is a straightforward philosophy founded on four key ideas. Rather than calories, pay attention to fulfilment

Shokuiku promotes intuitive eating and focusing on how different meals make you feel rather than calorie tracking. This entails becoming aware of your hunger and appetite cues as well as your starting to feel full.

Hara hachi bun me, or the notion that you should stop eating when you feel around 80% full, is another philosophy included into Shokuiku. As you have enough food to suit your needs, this can assist prevent overeating.

Consume more whole foods.

Healthy whole foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes are stressed in Shokuiku.

These foods are a good source of protein, fibre, heart-healthy fats and other essential elements that your body needs.

Shokuiku advises limiting your intake of processed foods, as they are frequently heavy in calories, salt, and added sugar.

Eat a variety of things

Shokuiku emphasises the value of savouring a range of meals as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet, in contrast to the majority of diets in North America and Europe that concentrate on excluding or restricting particular elements.

Meals are typically served on multiple tiny plates. You may try out different foods, spices, and seasonings because of this. Meals should ideally include a variety of veggies, some grains, and a lean protein source.

Shokuiku also exhorts you to experiment with different food preparation techniques, such as grilling, frying, boiling, or baking, which may help diversify your diet.

More communal dinners should be had

Shokuiku preaches that food should be seen as a source of delight and pleasure in addition to giving nutrition.

Shokuiku theory holds that eating may improve mental and emotional health while fostering stronger social ties.

This is why it's crucial to sit down and have meals together as often as you can. It might assist to encourage mindful eating and enhance your connection with food to take the time to enjoy meals with friends or family.

Possible health advantages:

Aids in the control of weight: Shokuiku focuses on forming healthy behaviours, many of which may help with long-term weight management.

For instance, it encourages mindful eating, which entails paying attention to your body and learning to identify hunger signs.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that mindful eating may greatly boost weight reduction, including one titled: "Mindful eating and conventional diet regimens drop body weight similarly: Systematic review and meta-analysis."

Shokuiku promotes consuming more whole meals that are high in nutrients. Additionally, it promotes against consuming processed meals, which have been connected to weight gain and an increased risk of being obese.

Additionally, Shokuiku encourages eating meals together more often with family and friends, which may result in a better diet and a healthy body weight.

Enhances general health

As part of a balanced diet, Shokuiku emphasises the need of consuming a range of healthful whole foods.

By doing this, you may promote general health by ensuring that you are obtaining the nutrients your body requires and filling up any nutritional gaps in your diet.

Following a balanced diet may be very helpful for improving blood sugar control, promoting intestinal health, reducing heart disease, and other things.

Additionally, Shokuiku teaches you to avoid eating too many processed foods, which may help you avoid a number of illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and even some forms of cancer.

Encourages a healthy connection with food:

Instead of measuring calories or nutrients, Shokuiku advises you to pay attention to your body and learn to detect hunger and fullness signs.

This can support the development of a positive relationship between your body and food.

Interestingly, research indicates that mindfulness training may lower the risk of binge eating and avoid emotional eating. A study including 221 students discovered a correlation between mindful eating and a decreased incidence of mood disorders and binge eating behaviours.

Shokuiku alters the way you view food as well. It motivates you to take pleasure in your meals by sharing them with others and attempting new flavours and ingredients.


The Shokuiku principles can improve the quality of your diet and encourage wholesome eating practices. It does not completely exclude or restrict any foods, in contrast to many other well-known fad diets and meal plans. Instead, it emphasises a range of full, nutrient-dense foods in your meals.

Additionally, it motivates you to take the time to eat your favourite meals with loved ones and to pay attention to your health. This may promote both social and emotional health.

Additionally, Shokuiku is quite straightforward and doesn't impose any onerous restrictions or guidelines. This makes it a viable and sustainable option to other eating styles and may enable you to achieve long-lasting, beneficial dietary and lifestyle adjustments.

A Japanese concept known as Shokuiku aims to promote sustainable eating patterns and attitudes.

It is built on four key tenets: listening to your body, consuming more whole foods, savouring a diversity of flavours and consuming more meals with loved ones.

It could improve your connection with food, promote weight control, and improve your general health.

It could also be a healthier and more productive substitute for strict diets. Perhaps most importantly, research indicates that Shokuiku activities can enhance mental, emotional, and physical health.