Macrobiotic diet is a diet formulated by the belief that food, and the quality of food, has an affect on a person’s life on a greater extent than most people realize. Practitioners of a macrobiotic diet believe that food has an affect on health, as well as happiness and well being. Those who follow a macrobiotic diet believe that natural foods with little to no processing are the best choice of food. In addition, they believe in using traditional methods of cooking and they enjoy cooking for themselves, as well as for family and friends.
Literally translated, macrobiotics means “great life.” Physicians and philosophers from around the world have associated macrobiotics with living in harmony with nature while eating a simple and balanced diet. In the 1920’s, George Ohsawa, who founded the modern form of macrobiotics, claimed to have cured himself from a serious illness by changing his diet. Ohsawa believed in the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang. They yin represents outward centrifugal movement and the yang represents inward centrifugal movement. Yin and yang are always opposite, with yin being sweet, cold, and passive and with yang being salty, hot, and aggressive. In a macrobiotic diet, the yin and yang need to be kept in balance for good health.
Macrobiotics emphasizes locally grown whole grain cereals, pulses (legumes), vegetables, seaweed, fermented soy products and fruit, combined into meals according to the principle of balance (known as yin and yang). Dietary recommendations include whole grains, such as brown rice, and other whole grain products, such as buckwheat pasta (soba); a variety of cooked and raw vegetables; beans and bean products, such as tofu, tempeh and miso; sea vegetables; mild natural seasonings; fish; nuts and seeds; mild (non-stimulating) beverages, such as bancha twig tea; and fruit. Certain types of vegetable-fruits, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, are not recommended and are either avoided altogether or used very sparingly. Macrobiotics is an approach to life rather than a diet. General Guidelines for the diet are:
Whole grains, especially brown rice: 30-50%
Beans and Bean Products: 10-20 %
Miso soup: daily
Seaweed: small amounts daily
All foods included in the macrobiotic diet must be organically grown. Whole grains, such as barley, brown rice, oats, millets, rye, core, buckwheat and whole wheat are thought to be the most balanced of foods in a macrobiotic diet. Therefore, these foods make up about 50 to 60% of the macrobiotic practitioner’s diet. Whole grains are the preferred type of grain in a macrobiotic diet, but small portions of bread and pasta derived from refined flour are acceptable. The remainder is composed of fish and seafood, seeds and nuts, seed and nut butters, seasonings, sweeteners, fruits, and beverages. Other naturally raised animal products may be included if needed during dietary transition or according to individual needs.
A person considering adopting the Macrobiotic diet should spend some time researching the philosophy as well as the specific foods and cooking techniques used. It is very likely that if a macrobiotic way of eating is adopted “cold turkey” that one will have vast cravings for a few days to a few weeks. However, one may choose to transition into a full macrobiotic way of eating and being. The best way to transition to a macrobiotic diet, however, is to first employ a wholefoods diet for several months before going into the more restrictive macrobiotic way of eating and being. A wholefoods diet requires erradicating all heavily processed and refined foods such as granulated sugar, refined flour, and most canned or pre-prepared foods. Next, one would begin erradicating all dairy products and red meat, while utilizing only whole grains. Finally, particularly during these transition periods, it is important to be very aware of what is going on in your body and your body’s response to the foods you intake. A person following a macrobiotic diet only drinks when thirsty. The only drinks that are generally accepted in a macrobiotic diet are teas, which are made from dandelion greens, roasted grains, or the leftover cooking water from preparing soba noodles. Teas containing caffeine or aromatic fragrances are unacceptable. In addition, all cooking water and drinking water must be purified before use.
Don’t try this diet without consulting a dietitian – otherwise you might end up with nutritional deficiencies. Taking a multi-vitamin supplement everyday might be in order, unless you eat a good amount of sea vegetables. Since the macrobiotic diet plan includes very little fish, you could end up with a deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids.
The macrobiotic diet doesn’t address exercise. As a given, though, no diet is complete without some form of moderate exercise. Try to be as active as possible every single day. Just cleaning the house and scrubbing the floors can provide fitness benefits. You might also want to consider engaging in systematic exercise programs like martial arts and yoga.
The macrobiotic diet plan requires a lot of commitment since it’s about making permanent changes to your lifestyle and daily eating habits. If your primary goal is to lose weight then this might not be the diet plan for you. The idea behind this diet is to strive for a long, healthy life. It’s appealing to those who want to take a holistic approach to their well-being which is What a macrobiotic diet is. The macrobiotic diet is more than just a diet, it is a lifestyle, and it embraces a simplistic diet bound closely to nature.
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