the Okinawa diet + BIG news

I have some big, life changing news.

But first.

Have you heard of the Okinawa diet? 

Okinawa, a Japanese island, is part of the greater Ryukyu islands that are located south of Japan’s mainland.

I first heard about the Okinawa diet several years ago when reading about the CR diet (calorie restriction) which is concerned primarily with longevity. The Okinawans are of interest because Okinawa has the greatest proportion of centenarians of any population & their longevity has been the study of gerontologists from all over the world.

The Okinawan diet, though not vegan, is easily veganized–it’s heavy on the vegetables (7-13 servings per day!) & whole grains/beans, light on the meat/eggs, oils, & sweets. It’s also virtually void of dairy foods, not unlike the majority of traditional Asian diets. Naturally, my interested was piqued!

okinawa_diet_food_pyramid Image: from the Okinawa Diet

The main idea behind a traditional Okinawan diet is that it’s high in volume & nutrients, & relatively low in calories. In other words, it has a naturally lower calorie density than most other diets while delivering a bounty of nutrients.

As a person who loves food & loves chewing (ie. eating), but also loves maintaining an athletic build, I am all over this approach. In fact, the FSL way of eating is essentially my veganized take (as an active, nursing, 30-something woman) on the Okinawan diet.

(Side note: Many, many others spin off the calorie-density or volumetrics approach–I certainly didn’t “invent” it!)

I bring this up because:

1) Okinawans eating a traditional Okinawan diet provide some compelling evidence that a highly plant-based diet is not only good for health but for longevity as well


2) we’re moving to Okinawa.

Yes, this lovely beach (or one just like it), will soon be just a bike ride or short walk away from home.

I can hardly believe it myself.

7601696514_87aa44e493_z  Image: Sunset Beach, Okinawa via flickr

The short story about how we are soon to be American expats on this lovely sub-tropical isle: 

Joseph, my husband, is a JAG officer in the United States Air Force. This means he’s an attorney in the military. (It was quite a road to get to this awesome position, more in this post.)

We’ve lived in San Antonio, Texas for the past 2+ years.

Now it’s time to be transferred & our next assignment will take us overseas to a base in Okinawa.

Are we excited?


Do we have any idea what we’re getting into?

Heaven’s no.

But we’re adventurous, our kids are excited, & having to scale back even more in order to move overseas fits nicely with our goals to downsize, get out of debt, & live more simply.


I’ve never actually lived close to a beach, but my dad grew up in Los Angeles & spent his youth riding waves.

I’m positive that this love for water is seeped into my DNA–if given the choice, I will choose being in or around water over nearly any other activity, any day.

So living this close to the beach will provide ample opportunity to enjoy sand & surf.

We just received the assignment so I have very few details other than we’ll be moving there sometime at the end of the summer (August-ish).

Friends & family have asked me if I’m excited.

I have to say that had we received this assignment two years ago I would have been much less prepared.

But having learned some hard lessons about money, debt, things, time, & family, I’ve realized that I can be happy anywhere, & with far fewer things.

So am I excited to move to a warm, sub-tropical foreign country far from all that is familiar?

Absolutely, yes.

And, of course I’m pretty excited to be able to actually eat like a true Okinawan (minus any fish or weird sea creatures).

Have you heard of the Okinawan diet? Have you ever been to Okinawa? Lived overseas?



Other bring joy posts you might want to read:




  1. Kate
    on March 25, 2015 at 5:44 am said:
    Hi Janae, I found these blog sites and thought they might be interesting for your move to Japan. I’m sure you will want to get out and about and see a lot of the country. Have you seen pictures of the macaque monkeys that bathe in the hot springs near Nagano? Good luck for the move.

    • Janae Wise
      on April 17, 2015 at 10:25 am said:

      Thank you Kate!! I haven’t seen that picture with the monkeys. Ohh, thanks for thinking of me–this gets me even more excited for our stay overseas. You’re so thoughtful to take the time to send me those links. Glad I’m not the only veg-head who will be in Japan 🙂

  2. Cadry
    on March 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm said:

    Oh, my gosh!! I am so excited for you! What a great adventure. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  3. Hannah
    on March 11, 2015 at 9:20 am said:

    Congrats on your orders to Japan. We are military (Marine Corps) and that is one of the places we could get sent to next if my husband re-enlists again. My brother was there recently for college to study Japanese and he loved it especially the food. A friend of ours is getting ready to welcome their first baby and then immediately move to Japan. I’m excited for them but the idea of moving overseas (when I have never left the continental US) is rather daunting. But that’s the military life!

  4. Laura
    on February 22, 2015 at 7:55 am said:

    Awesome news!! Looking forward to hearing what living in Okinawa/Japan is like!!

  5. Megan
    on February 20, 2015 at 9:55 pm said:

    We just moved to Okinawa in October and it has been quite the adjustment! Of course, this is our first duty station so military life is also a whole new ball game. It’s so beautiful here. The farmer’s markets are awesome. You’re going to want to find those quickly. I will say that is really hard to find a completely vegan meal in the restaurants out and about. There is almost always a little bit of meat or eggs in things (or in the broth if it’s ramen. Which is amazing) but I’m sure you’ll find a way. There were a lot of surprises with moving here. It’s a lot more metropolitan than you would think (traffic is awful!) but the beaches are breath taking and I think it will be so much fun here in the Summer.

  6. Katie
    on February 20, 2015 at 9:25 pm said:

    Wow! That is SO awesome! I can’t wait to see pictures and hear all about it. Do you know how long you’ll be there, or how often you expect to move with the job?

  7. Kelli
    on February 20, 2015 at 1:18 am said:

    Wow, what an adventure, Janae! I’ve not been to Okinawa, but I have been to Japan. I loved visiting. Can’t wait to hear how it all goes for you there!

  8. Brenna
    on February 19, 2015 at 9:31 pm said:

    So jealous!!! I’m SO looking forward to hopefully many, many posts about your adventures over there! Very exciting!

  9. Caroline @ The Little Things Blog
    on February 19, 2015 at 7:05 pm said:

    How exciting!! I look forward to following your journey over there!

  10. Jill
    on February 19, 2015 at 5:49 pm said:

    How great! We went to Japan (not Okinawa yet) for the first time last year. We fell head over heels in love with – the PEOPLE, food, aesthetic, landscape, etc. No doubt that you will truly enjoy this assignment and the beauty all around you. Congrats!!!

  11. Gabby @ the veggie nook
    on February 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm said:

    Oh wow that is so exciting!! I can only dream of such a thing happening in these frigid temperatures!

  12. Nicole
    on February 19, 2015 at 5:15 pm said:

    Woweee! That’s exciting! I hope the move goes well and I’m looking forward to following your adventures.

  13. Kristi
    on February 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm said:

    Incredible opportunity for you and the family! I’m super excited for you!!

  14. Laurie
    on February 19, 2015 at 4:38 pm said:

    Oh, how exciting! And I can’t wait to follow your Okinawan adventures here on your blog.

  15. Tiffany
    on February 19, 2015 at 3:25 pm said:

    That is incredible! So excited for you guys! Any word how long the assignment *should* be? (Since nothing seems to go quite as planned lol)

    • Janae Wise
      on February 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm said:

      Hi Tiffany,

      It will be 1 1/2 – 2 years. No more than 2 years, we know that much 🙂

  16. Kerry at Kerry Cooks
    on February 19, 2015 at 2:58 pm said:

    So so awesome! What an amazing experience for you and your kids!

  17. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
    on February 19, 2015 at 2:56 pm said:

    I was just reading all about that the other day!
    O my goodness! That is so so so exciting and is going to be such an amazing experience! XOXO

  18. Alanna
    on February 19, 2015 at 2:24 pm said:

    WHAT?!?! Janae! This is so exciting for your family! I’m stoked for you all!

  19. Anna-Lena Stöwhase
    on February 19, 2015 at 2:02 pm said:

    Wow, that sound exiting.
    Actually I’ve heard about the Okinawa diet in a very popular book here in Germany. In “Vegan for Youth” the autour Attila Hildmann visited Okinawa and examined the way people eat there and veganized it.
    I wish you so much fun and hope to read a lot about your new home.

    • Janae Wise
      on February 20, 2015 at 1:13 pm said:

      Hi Anna-Lena!

      “In “Vegan for Youth” the autour Attila Hildmann visited Okinawa and examined the way people eat there and veganized it.”
      That sounds awesome–I’ll have to check it out. I know several authors have published books on the Okinawa diet. I’m *really* looking forward to diving into the food scene there, & hope I can get my hands on lots of local produce.

      Thanks for the well wishes, I appreciate it.

  20. lfwfv
    on February 19, 2015 at 1:55 pm said:

    WOW! that is beyond exciting! Love your adventurous spirit and so excited to follow along on your journey 🙂 And yes, food-wise, you couldn’t get much better!

  21. Angela
    on February 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm said:

    Janae, that is such a wonderful opportunity for you and your family. I’m excited and happy for you all! Can’t wait to see your posts/pics once you’ve moved. Best wishes!!

  22. Jenny
    on February 19, 2015 at 1:46 pm said:

    Oh wow! Congrats! I am so jealous, I have always wanted to live on the beach. I hope you continue to blog, what an exciting journey. I remember when I was doing research about being a vegan and learning that so many Asians lived long, long lives mostly free from osteoporosis. Really made me even more convinced a plant based diet was the way to go for me. So excited for your family.

    • Janae Wise
      on February 20, 2015 at 1:12 pm said:

      Hi Jenny, thank you! We are super excited. I have every intention to continue to blog — I’m excited for the new foods & places to visit. Should definitely give me plenty to write about!

      “I remember when I was doing research about being a vegan and learning that so many Asians lived long, long lives mostly free from osteoporosis. Really made me even more convinced a plant based diet was the way to go for me.”
      Absolutely! I came to very similar conclusions myself. (Plus I LOVE, love rice!!)

  23. Sara
    on February 19, 2015 at 1:14 pm said:

    Wow, that sounds exciting. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it. Good luck with the move.