International Sushi Day, Rollin it up

Today is international sushi day! Although some are attacking sushi for being less healthy than we thought, I'm a proponent of the M word (a.k.a. moderation), which seems to be a catch-all when it comes to this type of thing.

Did someone say International Sushi Day? Or, National Sushi Day? Or the word sushi? Or anything that rhymes with, shares more than three letters with, or in anyway resembles the word sushi or reminds me of that delicious dish? I'm on it, hand me a menu.

I was born in Southern California but raised in a miniature town in Virginia (pop: 5,000) from an early age. Any type of "exotic" food, sushi included of course, was at least an hour's drive away. The first time I can remember seeing the pretty little packages that cut California rolls make was when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I was intrigued and curious, but my taste buds were slow to catch up with my mind on this one. A couple more years passed before I actually got around to liking the food. Sushi's colors, textures and flavors qualify as a big jump when you're used to southern home cookin'. International Sushi Day was something unheard of then, and National Sushi Day would probably have sounded unbelievable, just because in order to have a national day, lots of people would have to enjoy this food, right? However, by the time my 13th birthday rolled around, I was hooked. I remember a specific instance when my Mom brought me a package of sushi from a far-off business conference, as an attempted bribe to help salve some adolescent hurt feelings. It totally worked.

Now that I am back in Southern California, where authentic sushi restaurants abound, sushi tops my list of favorite food (hands down) and I can be seen frequenting those restaurants more than any other type.

Lately articles have been written that criticize sushi as not being as healthy as we all thought, since it has been touted as a health food among us diet-conscious but still disproportionately unhealthy Americans. According to an article by Janice Taylor at blog.beliefnet.com, the fried or "Americanized" types should be especially avoided. This seems pretty intuitive to me; of course fried rolls or rolls covered in mayonnaise, etc., would pack a caloric punch. However, I think that moderation is the word to remember here. It seems to me that if you overload on any type of food, there are health risks involved. I remember cautioning my Aerobics students at the University of Florida not to diet too harshly, referencing cases where girls who went on carrot-only diets began to notice skin and hair that was tinted with the orange color (fats dissolve the pigmentation that otherwise gets stored in the body's tissues - which would happen in this case with a carrot-only, no-fat diet). So being TOO healthy isn't really all that healthy.

Another tally for moderation. In closing, I say celebrate International Sushi Day! And National Sushi Day, at that. Go order yourself up a rainbow roll, and share it with someone because those bad boys are sizable. You can bet I will be.

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