What Is The Macrobiotic Diet?
Macrobiotics is the practical application of the natural laws of change. The term comes from the Greek; “macro” means great, and “bios” means life. It is a tool that allows one to learn to live within the natural order of life, the constantly changing nature of all things.
The term macrobiotic is taken from the Greeks. The term macrobiotic means “long life”. The basis for a macrobiotic diet is whole grains, combined with other unprocessed fruits, vegetables, legumes and other whole foods. Essential tenants of partaking in a macrobiotic diet include eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly, as well as avoiding overeating.
Also of emphasis in a macrobiotic diet is selecting locally grown foods as much as possible, as well as eating foods seasonally available and seasonally appropriate. For instance, in the summer and spring you would eat foods that are lighter in character, while in the fall and winter you will be more likely to eat denser foods and produce such a root vegetables.
Benefits of Macrobiotics
In general, the more we know about macrobiotics and the more we practice it, the greater the benefit. However, since every individual is different and no two people have the exact same reaction to changes in diet and lifestyle, the exact benefits for each person differ. Here is a brief list of common benefits:
* Less or no fatigue.
* Better health: relief from all pains and sicknesses, including colds, the flu,
* Better appetite, able to eat the simplest food with complete joy and
* Better sexual appetite and more joyful satisfaction.
* Deep and good sleep every night without bad dreams.
* The ability to fall asleep within minutes of lying down.
* Improved memory, leading to better relationships.
* Greater freedom from anger, fear, and suffering.
* Ability to view difficulties as positive learning experiences.
* Better clarity in thinking and promptness in action.
* More generosity in our interactions.
* Greater control over personal destiny.
* The belief that nothing in life is too difficult.
* Greater honesty with oneself and others.
* Improved understanding of Oneness (God).
Many of these benefits are obviously related to health. In fact, in macrobiotic thought all of these benefits are the product of good health. The third section of this book outlines the macrobiotic view of sickness and healing, and provides some information on macrobiotic diagnosis, as well as natural home remedies that can be helpful during the healing process.
What Can You Eat on the Macrobiotic Diet?
About 40% to 60% percent of your daily diet should be organically grown whole grains, like brown rice, barley, millet, oats, and corn. Locally grown vegetables make up 20%-30% of your daily total. Five percent to 10% is reserved for beans and bean products like tofu, miso, and tempeh, and sea vegetables like seaweed, nori, and agar.
You can also have fresh fish and seafood, locally grown fruit, pickles, and nuts several times a week. Rice syrup is one of the sweeteners you can have occasionally.
Strictly speaking, though, these are the most common foods forbidden by the macrobiotic diet:
- All dairy
- All meat
- All poultry
- Processed food
- Spicy food
- Refined sugar
- Fruit juice
- Strong alcohol
- Fragrant, stimulating teas like mint
Sample Macrobiotic Diet recipes
Here is a sample macrobiotic diet for a day’s worth of meals:
Try one of the following for breakfast:
- Whole grain cereal (such as barley, millet or buckwheat) – either dry or with soymilk
- Steel cut oats with fruit
- Brown rice with winter squach
A morning snack might consist of one of the following:
- Baby carrots
Try a healthy soup for your lunch including:
- Miso soup and whole grain crackers
- Bean soup
- Split pea soup
- Udon noodles and broth
- Steamed Brussels sprouts
- Steamed kale
This is a good time to get the quick energy and protein from nuts and seeds, including:
- Unsalted nuts
- Sunflower seeds
Keep dinner light and minimally processed. Make your dinner food selections depending on what the season warrants and what produce is locally available.
- Brown rice and broccoli with steamed white fish
- Steamed artichoke and brown rice
- Lentils cooked with root vegetables
- Leafy green vegetable salad with shellfish
- Polenta with shrimp and vegetables
- Leafy green salad with chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- Sea vegetables and steamed tofu
As you can see from this sample macrobiotic diet, a macrobiotic diet combines minimally processed whole grains with seasonally available fruits and vegetables.
Cooking Methods and Additional Diet Tips
Unprocessed foods are key, and organic food is highly recommended, although not necessary. It is important to fully chew your food, to aid with digestion. Low-fat cooking methods, particularly water-based cooking methods such as braising, steaming or boiling, are recommended for all foods, and a strict macrobiotic diet has food that is cooked only in stainless steel, enamel, wood, glass or ceramic cookware. Caffeine-free teas are allowed on the macrobiotic meal plan, although purified or spring water is the suggested beverage. Limit meat and meat products, including dairy. Fish and seafood are preferable to red meat, poultry or dairy.
Will you lose weight?
Probably. While the macrobiotic diet lacks robust clinical studies examining its weight-loss potential, its ban on processed food and emphasis on healthful and filling whole grains, vegetables, and bean products will likely yield weight loss. Just build in a “calorie deficit” – eat fewer calories than your daily recommended max, or burn off extra by exercising – and you should see the numbers on the scale budge. How quickly and whether you keep the weight off, however, is up to you.
The approach also shares tenets with vegetarianism, and vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories and weigh less than their meat-eating counterparts.