Wednesday, February 09, 2005

What is macrobiotics?

Someone left a comment asking, "What is macrobiotics, anyway?" It is good practice for me to try and answer this question. To me, "macrobiotic" means several things. From my experience, it is a diet, a philosophy, and a lifestyle. (For another point of view, go to

Regarding one's diet, macrobiotics is a whole foods diet. A whole foods diet leaves out refined and processed foods and focuses on foods in their whole form. For example, instead of eating wheat bread which has been broken down and refined into its smallest form, flour, macrobiotic people would rather eat the whole cooked wheat berry grain. Emphasis is placed on eating whole grains such as brown rice in particular, in addition to millet, barley, buckwheat, wheat, oats, etc. They also eat fresh seasonal vegetables, soup, seaweed and beans. In a macrobiotic diet, some people eat fish, while others choose to be vegan. There is ample food within this diet to create an endless variety of tasty, beautiful, and nutritious dishes.

The emphasis for the whole foods is "local, seasonal, and organic." The local and seasonal aspects are connected. This means eat foods that are grown in your region and eat them in season. For example, when it is summer, eat fresh fruits, corn, and lightly cooked vegetables that keep your body cool, but when it is winter focus on longer cooking times, root vegetables, slightly saltier and heartier dishes that keep your body warm. Eating with the seasons is a way to stay connected to mother nature and her cycles and rhythms. It also keeps our health strong.

On the other hand, if you live in a cold northern region, but you often eat bananas, papayas, mangoes, and other tropical fruits, your body will get very cold! If you live in a hot tropical area, do you want to eat foods that make your body warmer? No! Of course not! You want to naturally eat cooling things. When you consistenly eat foods that are not grown in your local region, and you eat them out of season, your health can deteriorate.

Eating organically is another point to pay attention to. When we eat foods that are fresh and without pesticides and chemicals, not only are we retaining vitamins and minerals, but we are putting the freshest and cleanest foods into our systems, thereby supporting our health, giving us energy and happiness for life.

Macrobiotics departs from the idea of vetarianism or veganism that we commonly know about in the western world. It draws on Asian ideas of health and wellness. People who are macrobiotic believe that food carries energy, or what we know as "yin and yang." Different foods have different energies which are important to balance. When we are balanced, our emotions stay balanced, and we forget our worries, fears, stresses, and we can live a happy, joyful, and free life. Depending on how we want to be, we can choose our foods. Foods are chosen from the categories mentioned above (local, seasonal, and organic) in addition to their energy (balance of yin and yang), always avoiding extreme foods that are difficult to balance over a long period of time (such as meat and sugar, or meat and alcohol). Eating too much raw fruit and vegetables, sugar, chocolate, nightshade vegetables, and oil for example, can leave us feeling depressed, spaced out, and overly emotional. Eating too much meat, salt, baked flour, and eggs can make you feel tense, heavy, and lethargic. These imbalances can lead to illness over time.

With lifestyle, there are a variety of things that macrobiotic people do. These might include (but are not limited to) do-in, yoga, shiatsu, body scrubs, and home remedies for illnesses. Macrobiotic people believe that when you stop eating extreme foods that upset one's natural balance, and treat all illnesses or imbalances with nature's medicine (food), you are free to play and enjoy life at its fullest. Life is beautiful! It is meant to be enjoyed! All possibilities are open to us. In my own experience, macrobiotics has led to a much more peaceful existence. If you dont believe me, that is OK. I would just ask you to try it for yourself to be sure.


Anonymous said...

I was told that a cold sore could be avoided by proper nutrition? I am getting contrary information from medical websites, that cold sores come from a virus. I know that Lysine is an important nutrient that needs to be in place and helps with cold sores. But does anyone know if they can be prevented?

Leslie said...

I think your best bet is to find a macrobiotic counselor in your area who can help you balance this condition. Leslie

Christy said...

One of my favorite authors, Jessica Porter of The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics, has started offering online video cooking classes on her blog. She is hilarious and is one of my favorite macrobiotic teachers!

Check it out!