Being Paleo in Japan: Basics

Oct 24, 2017 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Blog

…is fairly easier than I had thought it would be.


To be more specific, if I were to categorize my eating habits I would lean towards the terms “Paleo”, “Primal”, and “Ketogenic”. They are very similar to one another in that Paleo and Primal both stress the importance of eating naturally (i.e. like our ancestors) and successfully doing either would inevitably lead to a ketogenic-fueled body, so let’s just say that I believe in whole foods and the minimal consumption of carbohydrates.

 What does that even mean?

“I’d shoot for the moon, but I’m too busy gazing at stars. I feel amazing and I’m not afraid.” – Eminem, Not Afraid

I aim to be 100% clean in my eating, but I don’t beat myself over if I fall into the 70%-80% range. Clean eating specifics vary between diet puritans and my lackadaisical attitude towards these specifics enrages them. What I mean is that I avoid the “this-versus-that” battles between diet wars. Sometimes I use lard, sometimes I use canola oil, and sometimes I use butter – whatever I have on hand, I use. However, I know some diet puritans would sharpen their pitchforks, burn me as a heretic and as a sacrifice to their ancestors for not choosing a preference. Food is pleasurable to me and — this may sound like an ironic statement to some – I’m not picky in what I eat; I am, however, very conscious about the portions of what I eat.

I also don’t chastise myself if I decide to eat a slice or two of strawberry shortcake, or chocolate molten cakes. Some people prefer to make Paleo/Primal/Keto-versions of desserts, and I think that’s fine. I had already weened myself off of the sugar high so if I decide to indulge in something decadent I prefer to indulge in “the good stuff”.

Current Eating Habits

These are not hard fast rules, but this is generally how I eat on a daily basis:

  1. Meats with equal fat to protein ratio: I love meat. I love marbled meat, so I feel blessed to live in Japan where marbled meat is coveted. I may have had an easier time with Paleo/Primal/Keto because I love meat and fats. Yes, this includes organ meats, fish, and poultry.
  2. Vegetables: Mainly above ground leafy variations and colorful variations like broccoli, bell peppers, avocados, asparagus, any Japanese leafy thing in my grocery store that doesn’t have a common English equivalent, like mizuna or sansai (lit. “mountain vegetation”).
  3. Coffee: Every morning, one cup. Sometimes I add coconut oil (“Bulletproof” as others call it), sometimes I add Baileys (“delicious” as I call it), and sometimes I add both (“the Ultimate”).
  4. Portions: I don’t pig out and I think this is an overlooked key when talking about healthy and clean-eating. If we’re looking into weight, then about 200-400 g of meat and about the same in vegetables, but these numbers fluctuate.
  5. Desserts: Far and few in between because I don’t crave or need it. Once in a while, I’d keep a few fruits in my fridge and eat them as snacks during the week.

Isn’t it expensive?

This is the first question people ask me because of the relatively “expensive” food costs here in Japan. First, I have to disagree that food is expensive in Japan. I truly believe we are paying the actual value of food. Considering that almost all the produce is locally grown and seasonal, I am more than happy to pay the farmers to ensure they continue producing and providing me the produce I buy at my local supermarkets. As an added bonus, most foods are grown without the use of chemical pesticides! In contrast to North American farming practices, I’m certain that “organic” is the norm here. (What’s the basis of my supposition? I live in the countryside of Japan where my neighbours are the farmers who sell their produce in the supermarkets and they occasionally give me their produce as gifts.)

Second, most of my meals are cooked at home. This means my breakfasts and dinners on weekdays, and the regular three meals on weekends. Generally speaking, cooking at home gives you ultimate control of what goes in and what stays out of your meals and that comes into play when grocery shopping. A lot of ingredients can be recycled into other meals the next day. Lately, the meal pattern seems to be 2 vegetable sides and a meat main or a vegetable side, a meat main, and a simple soup.


Gapao Rice sans Rice, Avocado & Tomato salad, Zucchini & Asparagus Stir-Fry



Invest in a sous vide machine. I use the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cookers, hacked a rice storage container and voila – my own sous vide machine! Sometimes I buy bulk lumps of meat, sous vide them, then have a week’s worth of tender awesome meat every meal!



Next time on this topic, I’ll write about eating out as an ambiguously self-defined Paleo/Primal/Keto eater in Japan.

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • Coconut oil in coffee? I’ve heard of buttered coffee being ‘bullet-proof’, but never coconut oil. What’s the ratio like? I feel like I should try this… but I also like just a little milk.

  • Whether I use butter or coconut oil, I usually put a tablespoon — I literally scoop a portion of butter or eyeball what I consider a tablespoon of coconut oil — into my mug, pour a bit of coffee, whisk it with a milk-frother I bought at Daiso (like a Dollar Store) to blend it, then pour coffee to my desired amount.

    I first used coconut oil when I realized I ran out of butter, and been using it as a substitute whenever similar incidents happen. If I know I’m making myself a full breakfast, however, I don’t bother making bullet-proof coffee. In my head I feel like I’m overdoing it.

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