Understanding the Macrobiotic Diet


Hello friends and happy Spring! 

I thought it would be an appropriate time to speak about the MACROBIOTIC eating lifestyle,  since spring represents a time of cleansing, rebirth, life, growth and positive change. Macrobiotic literally means “large” (macro) “life” (bios). This eating lifestyle consists of healthy whole grains, fruits and veggies, in specific proportions and combinations, avoidance of refined sugars and oils, a small consumption of fish and a hearty consumption of Asian veggies such as daikon and seaweeds. Marco includes whole foods that promote a balance of body, mind and mood! It all goes back to that familiar saying of you are what you eat. Mother Nature is one heck of a genius and she knows what we should be eating and when, and macro is all about tuning into that.  The basic principles of the macro eating lifetyle include eating in harmony with nature, balancing out nature’s forces in cooking and using foods to create desired effects. Now, I want to preface that I personally do not subscribe to eating a macrobiotic diet, but I do support it and believe in most of its core principles. I am just here to educate. No one diet is “better” than another, as it’s ALL a personal lifestyle choice. I am just simply presenting information. If it resonates with you, fantastic! If it doesn’t, that is perfectly okay too. 🙂

So, what are the benefits of eating this way? This eating lifestyle falls in tune with nature’s harmony and you eat according to each season, which makes a ton of sense, doesn’t it? Your body requires different things during different times of the year and undergoing different weather conditions. Of course, as a SoCal native who now writes from S. Beach Florida, I cannot say that I have much experience with seasons, but I AM an educator, and a student, so I hope to shed some light on the subject for you AND for me. 🙂

Now, the macro diet does emphasize a lot of whole grains as the staple of the diet, which may be a turn off to some of you because our Western way of thinking sends messages telling us grains=FAT. Grains in fact do NOT=fat, as they have sustained and nourished humans since the dawn of time. Americans typically consume the WRONG TYPES of grains (refined and processed) and THESE=fat and digestive problems. So, the emphasis is on WHOLE grains, with veggies next, then sea veggies, beans, local fruit, fish, miso & tamari, seeds, and finally, on the outter realm of the macro circle are foods that are to be consumed MINIMALLY or not at all, like honey, fruit juice, nightshade veggies (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), eggs, meat, dairy, poultry, alcohol and coffee.

Our bodies naturally crave balance, and this is a huge theme in eating macrobiotically; balancing Yin (expansive) and Yang (contractive). Eating on the extremes (too yin or too yang) can throw the body off balance and create many uncomfortable and problematic symptoms in the body.  These foods can also contribute to stress in the body and we all know by now that stress ain’t good. If you feel for instance, spaced out, confused, dreamy, forgetful, overly sensitive, worried, sad, helpless, silly, or hyperactive, then you are too YIN, and are consuming too much sugar, chocolate, alcohol or fruit. If you feel more impatient, frustrated, stubborn, heavy, stuck, insensitve, compulsive, angry or violent, then you are too YANG and are consuming too much salt, dairy, meat, cheese, or eggs. It’s important to create balance and not eat on either end too extreme. As we know, moderation and balance are the key.

Eating the macro way also taps into nourishing certain body systems/organs at different times and giving them a helping hand as our organs endure stress as well. Here is the low down:

Spring: liver/gall bladder-eat leafy greens, barley, umeboshi plum, etc

Summer: heart/small intestine-eat corn, bitter greens, salad, etc

Late summer: spleen/pancreas/stomach-eat millet, sweet squash, round veggies

Fall: lungs/large intestine-eat brown rice, hearty greens, roots, etc

Winter: kidney/bladder-eat adzuki beans, miso, hearty roots, etc

Many ailments are said to be alleviated by eating macrobiotically and some of them include:

-allergies

-candida

-diabetes

-heart diease

-PMS

-anemia

-ADD/ADHD

-cancer

So, what are some food choices you CAN look forward to eating? Well, you get to eat traditional, organic, whole, unrefined, local and foods that are cooked appropriately depending on the season.

Here are the basics:

Whole Grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, whole oats, barley, bulghar wheat & buckwheat

Leafy greens: kale, chards, spinach, lettuces, collards, mustard greens, watercress, kohlrabi, parsley, dandelion

Cabbage family: broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts

Roots and squahes: carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, acorn squash, pumpkin squash, spaghetti squash

Beans: adzuki, lentils, garbanzo, black beans

Sea veggies: kombu, wakame, agar agar, arame, hijiki, sea palm

Fruit: fresh local fruit, dried local fruit

Condiments: tamari, sea salt, miso, sesame oil, ginger, brown rice vinegar, sesame seeds, umeboshi plums, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts

Snacks: baked brown rice crackes, rye crisps, rice cakes, toasted seeds, popcorn, mochi (a rice based puffed pastry), sprouted breads, raisins, or rice syrup based candies

Some easy macrobiotic recipes:

Cream of Broccoli Soup: 5 c water or veggie stock, 1 1/2 c chopped broccoli, 1 small onion, diced, 1 1/2 c cooked brown rice, barley or white miso. Bring water or stock to a boil and add broccoli stems and onion. Cover and simmer for 10 min. Put 2 cups of liquid in blender w/ brown rice and blend until smooth then return to pot. Add broccoli tops and simmer until tender. Flavor w/ miso to taste.

Apple Pudding: 2 apples, 1/4 c rolled oats, 1/2 c apple juice, 1/3 c water, 1/2 c cooked brown rice, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp rice syrup, dash of allspice. Peel, core and slice apples. Lightly roast oats in saucepan over medium heat until toasty. Add in apples and other ingredients. Bring to a boil and cover, letting simmer for 20 min. Trasnfer to blender and blend until smooth. Serve topped w/ nuts of seeds.

Marcobiotic makes sense in many ways as it truly takes it back to nature and promotes natural and simple ingredients and recipes. If you are thinking about experiementing with this, GO FOR IT! It’s always fun to try something new and see how it works for your body. Again, it may not be for everyone, but finding what works is certainly a process, so this is just another recommendation.

I also want to share that I got most of my information from the book The Self-Healing Cookbook, by Kristina Turner. It’s a very basic way to look at the macro diet and she includes a lot of recipes, charts and user friendly guides.

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