Big in Japan: Can’t get skinny? Eat a banana!

You can never be too skinny or too rich, at least according to the old expression…

Of course, in a country where size S is the veritable norm, and hyper fashion demands perfection in every curve, the pressure to stay thin and beautiful can quickly consume every waking moment of your day-to-day life.

As you might imagine, Japan practically invented the fad diet, which means that every month or so, some new food item is reported by so-called experts to be the miracle cure for obesity.

While there really is no substitute for a healthy diet and exercise, Japanese women, and increasingly men, have chowed down on a pretty lengthy list of fad foods: boiled eggs, apples, chili peppers, soybeans, black tea fungus, cocoa, carrots, yam paste, beer yeast, and even baby formula!

So, what is the current fad food that has recently risen in price by 20% as a result of supply shortages? Bananas!

Yup, bananas, those elongated yellow pods that are high in fiber, packed with vitamins and minerals, and largely comprised of H2O.

So, how does the Morningu Banana Daietto (???????????????????????????????????????, Morning Banana Diet) work? Keep on reading to find out!

The Morning Banana Diet is attributed to a woman by the name of Sumiko Watanabe, a pharmacist in Osaka, who designed this diet specifically to help out her tubby hubby.

Here is how it works:

In the morning, you can eat as many bananas as you want, alongside room temperature water. This is the key as breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a few bananas in the belly certainly helps in getting your digestion going.

For lunch and dinner, you can pretty much eat anything you want, along with a small afternoon snack, but you have to avoid desserts, stop eating by 8pm, and go to bed before midnight.

According to Mrs. Watanabe, her husband quickly lost 37 pounds, which prompted her to release the diet on mixi, the Japanese equivalent of Facebook or MySpace. The Osaka pharmacist has also published her Morning Banana Diet in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, and has thus far sold close to a million copies.

Of course, while Mrs. Watanabe is lugging her suitcases full of yen to the bank, food distributors are quickly realizing that their supply of bananas can’t meet demand, especially following a recent TV appearance by the Watanabes.

According to Takeshi Ozaki, a spokesperson of Life Corporation, which runs more than 200 supermarkets throughout Japan: “Bananas suddenly flew off the shelves, there was a 70%-80% increase in weekly sales compared to the same period last year.”

However, before you rush out and buy a few crates of Chiquita bananas, keep in mind that not everyone is convinced.

According to Professor Masahiko Okada of Niigata University School of Medicine: “The human body has three essential nutrients – carbohydrates, fat and protein. The golden rule is to balance these three nutrients and a daily calorie intake. Once you understand that, you don’t have to be swayed by the fad diet any more.”

Again, the secret to good health really is a balanced diet and regular exercise, though a few bananas in the morning might not be a bad idea!

** Front-page image taken by Eriko Sugita at Reuters. All other images courtesy of the WikiCommons Media Project **