French Paradox and Ikigai: What do French People and Japanese Centenarians Have in Common?


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The other day, I watched a 60 Minutes Australia documentary program called The French Paradox: How rich food and wine could help you stay healthy.



The French paradox is a known concept of how French people are healthy in spite of their rich diet. It is often considered that the secret is in wine.


In the documentary, they say that the way French people enjoy eating may have something to do with it.


When I watched the video, immediately, one word appeared in my mind Ikigai.


Ikigai has two meanings.

1, Daily joys or pleasures that motivate you to live.

2, life purposes or life missions.


I think the dining culture is the first meaning of Ikigai for many French people. They savor food, its color, smell, and taste. Food is often a topic of their conversations, they enjoy cooking, and they look forward to eating.


Ikigai is one of the secrets of longevity among Japanese centenarians, and it is often the first meaning of Ikiigai. They have daily joys such as walking, seeing their grandchildren, or communicating with their neighbors.


It is especially important after your retirement. When you are younger, you may have a life purpose such as project goals for your work or bringing up your kids, but after the age of 60, you finish all those and you find your ikigai in daily activities. Eating can be a common ikigai, particularly when it is combined with your social life.


The problem of some diets is that by eliminating certain dietary habits, they also eliminate your Ikigai.


In the Ikigai Diet Chapter 12 Adding Hygge to the Japanese Diet, I said that we didn’t set any rules in the Ikigai Diet, and I came up with the original idea when I was in France over 30 years ago. At that time I was living in England and was a vegetarian and macrobiotic. I was immersed in the vegetarian culture there. So when I went to France and see all these rich foods, I was very shocked. But I was also impressed by the way French people embraced the dining culture. I felt that British people or people in Northern Europe in general were coming from the head. This is an environmentally friendly way of eating, or this is an ethically correct way of eating. While Latin people were coming from feeling, they enjoyed eating.


I felt how you feel when you eat is critical.


That experience was one of the triggers that made me stop being a vegetarian.


Does it mean you should eat rich food like meat and cheese every day and enjoy eating?


No, that is not what I am saying.


If you do, you’ll probably become sick quickly.


Most people are extreme. If you are health conscious, you become too strict to the point you are almost neurotic.


The other end is you don’t care. You eat anything.


The word you are looking for is balance.


You need balance.


How to keep the balance, then?


Please watch the video.



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