What's Macrobiotic? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-28-2002, 08:05 AM
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I seem to be ignorant



I see people post with "so that's why i decided to become macroboitic" or "i'm macrobiotic".....could someone explain to me what that means?



thanks



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#2 Old 10-28-2002, 08:09 AM
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http://www.macrobiotics.org/whatmacro.html



There's the definition, according to that organization, the site in general seems to be a decent source of information but I didn't really look it over.



Maybe we'll have someone here that's really into it.

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#3 Old 10-28-2002, 08:34 AM
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I knew someone who was a vegetarian for years that was in a macro-biotic cooking class and she told me that one day the teacher had them make lamb. Huh?!?!?! And she said she ate it and so did a lot of other people who had been vegitarians because they believed in what the teacher said. Isn't that bizarre? You'd never catch me eating meat because my macro teacher said to eat it! And it just doesn't seem like that could be correct that lamb is macro. Is there anyone who knows the answer to that?
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#4 Old 10-28-2002, 09:22 AM
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Some Koreans have a macrobiotic restaurant near my office and I eat there sometimes. They regularly serve fish and shellfish. I never thought to ask them what "macrobiotic" meant although I'm not sure I'd understand them if they told me.
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#5 Old 10-28-2002, 09:35 AM
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I remember some dumb vocabulary book we had in the 11th grade had macrobiotic as one of its words to learn. The definition we were given was just "vegetarian". Later when I learned about vegetarianism, I learned that was false.



I think a lot of people who aren't familiar with any of the alternative diets just assume macro and vegetarian are somehow the same.
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#6 Old 10-29-2002, 03:19 AM
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The diet described in Micheal's link seems to be quite sensible. I feel more fruit and raw vegetables would be better, though.



I liked how they emphasised Local produce. My only experience of macrobiotic people is that they tend to eat a lot of Japanese foods like umeboshi plumbs etc, which are expensive and surely couldn't be that important in one's diet.
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#7 Old 10-30-2002, 09:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by PoesÃ*a

I knew someone who was a vegetarian for years that was in a macro-biotic cooking class and she told me that one day the teacher had them make lamb. Huh?!?!?! And she said she ate it and so did a lot of other people who had been vegitarians because they believed in what the teacher said. Isn't that bizarre? You'd never catch me eating meat because my macro teacher said to eat it! And it just doesn't seem like that could be correct that lamb is macro. Is there anyone who knows the answer to that?



Yes, lamb is definitely not macrobiotic. I am sorry that these students were following this teacher so blindly, and sorry that they never opened a book on macrobiotics, or they would have known better.



As it says on the Kushi Institute page that Michael referenced:



Quote:


Foods to Eliminate for Better Health



Meat, animal fat, eggs, poultry, dairy products (including butter, yogurt, ice cream, milk and cheese), refined sugars, chocolate, molasses, honey, other simple sugars and foods treated with them, and vanilla.

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#8 Old 10-30-2002, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Michael

http://www.macrobiotics.org/whatmacro.html



There's the definition, according to that organization, the site in general seems to be a decent source of information but I didn't really look it over.



Maybe we'll have someone here that's really into it.



Quite a number of our EarthSave Nashville members are macrobiotic, and they hold a "wholly Macro" potluck dinner every two weeks, which I attend regularly. In practice, these dinners are purely vegetarian.



Macrobiotics differs from vegetarianism in that a small quantity of fish is occasionally allowed, as is indicated on the Kushi Institute website. However, fish is not served at our "wholly Macro" dinners.



Macrobiotics also differs from vegetarianism in that certain vegetarian foods are also avoided, for example, the nightshades. So, no tomatoes, no tomato sauce, no potatoes, no eggplant, etc.

Also, many fruits are avoided, like oranges--especially if you live in a climate where such fruits do not grow naturally. Also, certain cooking techniques are shunned. For example, food is not to be cooked or heated by microwaves.



In practice, the "wholly Macro" dinners are virtually vegan, with maybe a few exceptions, where someone will have used an egg to make an occasional dish.



Finally, you need to realize that a large proportion of the people who seek out and practice macrobiotics do so for health reasons, i.e., they have serious health problems that Western medicine has "given up" on, or else the treatment offered by Western medicine is almost worse than the disease, so these people seek out macrobiotics to cope with those health problems.



For example, one of the leading macrobiotic counsellors in our group studied at the Kushi Institute and used macrobiotics to bring her Crohn's disease into remission. She has just written a book about it, telling her story.



http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...lance&n=507846
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#9 Old 10-31-2002, 08:08 AM
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Thanks for confirming the whole lamb thing, Joe. I knew that couldn't be right.



I don't know what I would do without nightshades. I know the potential effects so I don't overdo it but I love to cook with them.



Isn't it an amazing concept that long ago people HAD to eat what was indigenous to their area and it was an absolute rarity to have something imported. That was the norm. And now, the norm is to be spoiled and gluttonous and it's a rarity to be macrobiotic and NOT eat things other than indigenous food.

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#10 Old 10-31-2002, 10:36 AM
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what's the problem with nightshades?

Nec Aspera Terrent
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#11 Old 10-31-2002, 10:44 AM
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They contain sotanine that some people can be highly sensitive to. Sometimes nightshades aren't so great for people with arthritis. Sotanine interferes with enzymes in the muscles and may cause pain and discomfort. Not saying nightshades are bad, just everything in moderation. Just like any food!
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#12 Old 10-31-2002, 11:09 AM
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Some info about the historical background of macrobiotics.



Here's what John Denver has written:



Translated from the Greek, "macro" means "large" or "great," and "bios" signifies "life." Herodotus, Aristotle, Galen and other classical writers used the term macrobiotics to describe a lifestyle, including a simple balanced diet, that promoted health and longevity.



In the late eighteenth century, the German physician and philosopher Christophe W. Hufeland renewed interest in the term. His influential book on diet and health was entitled _Macrobiotics, or The Art of Prolonging Life._



Nearly a century later, the term macrobiotics experienced a revival, this time originating in Japan. Two educators, Sagen I****suka, M.D., and Yukikazu Sakurazawa, cured themselves of serious illnesses by adopting a simple diet of brown rice, miso soup, sea vegetables, and other traditional foods. These educators spent many years studying and integrating traditional Oriental medicine and Eastern philosophy with Judeo-Christian teachings and wholistic perspectives in modern science and medicine. Sakurazawa ... adopted the name George Ohsawa, and applied the term macrobiotics to his teachings.



... Ohsawa devoted himself to defining macrobiotics as it applies to modern living ... visiting more than thirty countries, giving more

than seven thousand lectures, and publishing over three hundred books.



Ohsawa had many students, among them Michio Kushi ... [who came to the United States in 1949].



\t[Michio and his wife Aveline Kushi have published numerous books, founded the East West Foundation and the Kushi Institute, and the _East West Journal_. The Kushis also advocate strongly for world peace.]



\t--John Denver, "Preface" to Michio Kushi, _The Macrobiotic Way_ (1985), pp. xi-xii.
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#13 Old 11-16-2002, 02:53 AM
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I had dinner last weekend at our Wholly Macro potluck with a couple, Sheldon and Guinat (Janet) Rice, who are travelling the country and doing a study of macrobiotics and macrobiotic support groups in the US. They is a website summarizing their research here:



http://macrobiotics.sph.sc.edu/project.htm



Sheldon argued for a very loose definition of macrobiotics--almost saying that if a person calls what he is doing "macrobiotics," then that is macrobiotics.



It seems that there are "wide" vs. "narrow" practices of macrobiotics. It also seems that I have been exposed to the "narrow" or "strict" versions.



Here's how they put it in academic language:



Quote:
The study of macrobiotic practice is complicated by the fact that macrobiotics is not just a set of dietary

guidelines. Rather, food is seen as medicine and medicine as food within the oriental concept of balance.

Macrobiotic counselors are reluctant to give hard and fast rules because in their understanding no foods are

necessarily bad for a healthy person, except when eaten in excess. Thus macrobiotic practice is highly

individualized. The adoption of macrobiotics is also usually associated with a wide diversity of alternative healing

practices and other lifestyle changes. The qualitative approach is thus essential for the study of the holistic

context of health, healing and diet in peoples actual lives.



I am not saying that I necessarily agree with the Rice's, but I have been obliged to reconsider my views on the subject.
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#14 Old 12-10-2002, 08:06 PM
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When I was doing my early research into vegetarianism three years ago, I found completely contradictory definitions for macrobiotics. One book said it was an eating style that emphasized raw, raw, raw and locally grown foods. Another book said it was an eating style that shunned raw and cooked everything.

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#15 Old 12-11-2002, 08:57 PM
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I always wondered what Macrobiotics were. Glad to be informed more on it. I had it confused with raw veggie eaters.
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#16 Old 07-04-2003, 12:43 PM
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"In the late eighteenth century, the German physician and philosopher Christophe W. Hufeland renewed interest in the term. His influential book on diet and health was entitled _Macrobiotics, or The Art of Prolonging Life._"

One of the best books ever written on the subject. But it has nothing to do with Ohsawa. And I doubt that Ohsawa read this book.

Poesia: you´re right. I once had a solanine intoxication and I could hardly move for a day and felt burning inside, but after a day everything was back to normal again. I never had any adverse effects afterwards and so I think nightshades only cause a problem when you get an intoxication.

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#17 Old 07-06-2003, 12:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by skylark

When I was doing my early research into vegetarianism three years ago, I found completely contradictory definitions for macrobiotics. One book said it was an eating style that emphasized raw, raw, raw and locally grown foods. Another book said it was an eating style that shunned raw and cooked everything.



When I first became vegetarian, I purchased a few macrobiotic books. I was just curious, and was wondering if it was for me. My understanding, is that you have to cook foods based on what your body tells you you need. If you are yin (expansive...i.e., mood is: dreamy, confused, forgrtful, worried, sensitive, sad, scared, hyperactive, drunk, hysterical) you should eat more raw foods...HOwever, if you are more yang (contracted....i.e, mood is: impatient, frustrated, stubborn, heavy, stuck, insensitive, compulsive, controlling, angry, violent) you should eat more cooked food.



The whole yin and yang thing is much more complex than that, it gets into what types of food you should stay from. But, the contradictory definitions you received, might have had something to do with that. Macrobiotics is all about listening and knowing what your body needs. FYI a great book is The Self Healing Cookbook by Kristinia Turner...on Kushi Institue website. It gives recipes, but also explains all about the diet. The author has a very peaceful way of writing. Very good read..even if i'm not macro.
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#18 Old 07-06-2003, 01:58 PM
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the whole yin/yang spiel seems to be completely arbitrary. frankly, i don't buy it.



my dad used to follow macrobiotics. every meal was pretty much brown rice with gomashio and some overcooked mushy vegetables. tomatoes and eggplants were strictly forbidden, and everything was way too salty. bleh.
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#19 Old 07-07-2003, 05:02 PM
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Macrobiotic is all about eating foods from your region. I had a couple friends who were macrobiotic, and it seemed so extreme to me. And, yeah, it's all about balancing out your foods--Yin/Yang.



They told me they couldn't eat tomatoes and I almost screamed. No spaghetti sauce, no salsa, no ketchup. Couldn't do it. No peppers either--no jalapeños! (Sad. So sad.)



They got so skinny, too. Like unhealthy skinny. They quit sugar (which I did recently and think it's one of the best things I've ever done with my diet), they quit meat (except they could eat Shrimp--go figure) and dairy. They had other strict diet guidlines. No citrus fruits, no nightshades.



And after eliminating the things you can't eat in a macrobiotic diet, there ARE a lot of things left, but it seems like they'd only eat a bowl of brown rice and that's it.



They've since gone vegan, and seem much healthier now. I guess they eat a wider variety of foods. If you go macro, you REALLY need to know what you're doing with it, or it can really backfire.
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#20 Old 07-07-2003, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwnyc

If you go macro, you REALLY need to know what you're doing with it, or it can really backfire.



Yeah......you have to be careful, and it is much more difficult than being vegan. When I first went veg. I tried the macro thing...Only for a few days ...But, no tomatoes??? I don't think I could live. But, I did learn a lot, and it helps you become more in tune w/ your body. I think macro can be very good for some people...especially people with a terminal illness, such as cancer. The one thing that I do like about macro is that it really stresses to eat within your means....meaning in your region. Not just organically grown, but organically grown in your locale. It's something I never really thought about, but do you know how much fossil fuels we waste to fly a package of strawberries from the west coast to the east coast? Eat local, think global is a motto I do agree with.
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#21 Old 07-07-2003, 09:04 PM
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I really feel that macrobiotics has it going on. I can definitely find myself with this diet someday in the future, after I'm more settled and stop partying so much.



That is, I'm presuming you don't drink much when you're macrobiotic.



(Macrobiotics isn't the only nightshade shunner - so are Hare Krishnas. HKs also avoid the onion family - onions, shallots, garlic, leeks, and scallions.)
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#22 Old 07-09-2003, 04:03 PM
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We have a macrobiotic restaurant near us that is mostly vegan. We eat there alot. But they do have fish specials a few times a week. It's the type of vegetarian restaurant you could not take your meat-eating friends too. Lots of brown rice, steamed veggies, etc. Basically all the stuff that meat-eaters assume that veggies live on. It is very bland, not mnay spices, but I have started enjoying it even more the past few months as I have been dieting.



I have a co-worker who recently got into macrobiotics. As a result, she has given up dairy products, but she still eats fish.



We are having meetings at our home office soon and she sent in a special food request email and copied me on it (because she knows I'm also vegetarian). She said "I'm a vegan-- which means I can't eat dairy products. Fish is okay, though." Argh!



I had to send in another email saying "I'm a vegan, and I don't eat fish."



I don't have a problem with her choosing to eat fish, but calling herself a VEGAN? It's bad enough when fish-eaters call themsleves vegetarians but at least somewhat excusable (pesco-vegtarian). But calling yourself a vegan?
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#23 Old 07-09-2003, 04:23 PM
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I worked with this guy who said he was Vegan, and after I made the switch to veggie, I was talking to him about honey, and askin if he ate it or not. He said "I think I'd give up fish before I gave up honey." I was a triffle confused at that point. Vegan?



I totally agree with the "eating locally" thing. Like why do we need to be eating oranges from California if we live in the Northeast? I like northern foods, was raised on them, so therefore I think my body very easily digests northern foods rather than foods from Guatemala or Peru. I feel fantastic when I eat melons that were grown in New York State, but feel kinda funky when I eat a pineapple...make sense??
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#24 Old 07-10-2003, 12:33 AM
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<----------------thinks she would shrivel up and die without semi-exotic fruits and veggies.



But that's just me, and I have never tried macrobiotics. I have no real room to criticize.

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#25 Old 07-10-2003, 02:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jwnyc

Macrobiotic is all about eating foods from your region. I had a couple friends who were macrobiotic, and it seemed so extreme to me. And, yeah, it's all about balancing out your foods--Yin/Yang.




I'm not an expert on this, but it seems more Yin/Yang than eating foods from you region.



Rice, seaweed, miso you name it. A lot of what macrobiotic people eat comes from japan. That's not my defenition of "your region"
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#26 Old 07-10-2003, 05:07 PM
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is it Microbiotic, then? instead of Macro that's limited to your region?



Oh, heck if I know-- I'm not micro/macro. I probably got the two confused.
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#27 Old 02-26-2004, 07:01 PM
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Sorry to bring up an old thread, but I was having a discussion about the macrobiotic diet someone and was wondering what people on this board had to say about it.



Here's my understanding of it: A macrobiotic diet is part of a philosophy of life that incorporates the ancient Oriental concept or theory of yin and yang. The diet itself consists mainly of brown rice, other whole grains, and vegetables. It requires foods to be cooked over a flame, rather than by electricity or microwave.



The term "macrobiotics" comes from two Greek words, one meaning "great" and "bios," meaning life. The macrobiotic diet is believed to have originated in Japan in the nineteenth century with the teachings of Sagen Ishizuka, a natural healer. George Ohsawa (1893-1966), a Japanese teacher and writer, introduced it to Europeans in the 1920s. Ohsawa claims to have cured himself of tuberculosis by eating Ishizuka's diet of brown rice, soup, and vegetables. The diet didn't get much attention in the United States until the mid-1960s, when Ohsawa's book Zen Macrobiotics was published and became a best-seller, especially in the 1960s counterculture.



In the macrobiotic diet, foods are selected more for their metaphysical qualities than for nutritional value. It has, however, many of the same benefits as a vegetarian or vegan diet since it is high in whole grains, vegetables, beans, and soy protein . Numerous scientific studies have shown that a diet of this type can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease , stroke, and various cancers. The macrobiotic diet is rich in vitamins, high in dietary fiber, and low in high-fat foods.



Macrobiotics embraces a holistic approach to life in general, not just nutrition. Its philosophy recommends the following behaviors:



-Eating two or three meals a day.

-Chewing each mouthful of food approximately 50 times to aid digestion and absorption of nutrients.

-Not eating for at least three hours before bedtime.

-Taking short baths or showers as needed with warm or cool water.

-Using only organic foods.

-Using grooming, cosmetic, and household products made from natural, non-toxic ingredients.

-Wearing only cotton clothing and avoiding metallic jewelry.

-Spending as much time as possible in natural outdoor settings and walking at least 30 minutes daily.

-Doing such aerobic or stretching exercises as yoga, dance, or martial arts on a regular basis.

-Placing large green plants throughout the house to enrich the oxygen content of the air, and keeping windows open as much as possible to allow fresh air circulation.

-Avoiding cooking with electricity or microwaves; using gas or wood stoves; and using only cast iron, stainless steel, or clay cookware.

-Avoiding watching television and using computers as much as possible.



The macrobiotic diet assigns yin and yang energies to foods. Yin and yang are opposite energies that are complementary and harmonious, such as day and night. Yin energies are directed outward while yang energies are directed inward. In this ancient Asian philosophy, everything in the universe is assigned a yin or yang quality. Balance, harmony, order, and happiness are achieved when the forces of yin and yang are in balance.



Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and hard cheese are considered yang while milk, cream, fruit juice, alcohol, and sugar are yin. The macrobiotic diet consists mainly of foods in the middle, such as brown rice, other whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. The macrobiotic diet is flexible, and allows fish on occasion. The diet's flexibility is one of its key attractions. It allows people to design their own regimen of foods based on their own needs, environment, and medical condition.



One of the principles of the macrobiotic diet is that people should primarily eat organically grown foods native to their climate and area. Foods considered yang (contracted energy) last longer and can come from a wide geographic area. Sea salt and sea vegetables are examples of yang foods and can come from anywhere within the same hemisphere. Whole grains and legumes are also yang and can come from anywhere within the same continent since they keep for a long time. Fresh fruits and vegetables are considered yin (expansive energy). Since they have a relatively short shelf life, they should be chosen only from those types that grow naturally within one's immediate area. A balance between yin and yang in diet and food helps achieve inner peace and harmony with one's self and the surrounding world.



Another aspect of the macrobiotic diet is that the type of foods eaten should change with the seasons. In the spring and summer, the food should be lighter, cooler, and require less cooking. This change is necessary because the energy of fire is abundant in the form of sunlight and does not need to be drawn from cooked food, according to the macrobiotic philosophy. In the autumn and winter, the opposite is true.



The time of day also plays an important role in the macrobiotic diet since it relates to atmospheric energy levels. In the morning, when upward energy is stronger, breakfast should be light, such as a whole grain cooked in water. In the evening, when downward energy is stronger, the meal can be larger. Lunch should be quick and light, since afternoon energy is active and expansive.



The macrobiotic approach is that what dietary standards work for one person may not work for another. These standards may also change from day to day. Therefore, a macrobiotic diet requires a change in thinking from a static view of life to a dynamic one.



Many people are attracted to the diet because of claims that it can prevent or cure cancer. Others say the diet has cured them of diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and other forms of heart disease. Many of the diet's supporters believe that these and other degenerative diseases result because the body's yin and yang are out of balance and that a macrobiotic diet helps restore this balance.



The primary food in the standard macrobiotic diet is whole cereal grains, including brown rice, barley, millet, rolled oats, wheat, corn, rye, and buckwheat. A small amount of whole grain pasta and breads is allowed. Grains should comprise about 50% of the food consumed.



Fresh vegetables should account for 20-30% of the diet. The most highly recommended include green cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, carrots, parsnips, winter squash, bok choy, onions, parsley, daikon radishes, and watercress. Vegetables that should be eaten only occasionally include cucumber, celery, lettuce, and most herbs. Vegetables that should be avoided include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant, spinach, beets, and summer squash.



About 10% of the diet should consist of beans and sea vegetables. The most suitable beans are azuki, chickpeas, and lentils. Tofu and tempeh are also allowed. Other beans can be eaten several times a week. Sea vegetables include nori, wakame, kombu, hiziki, arame, and agar-agar. Another 10% of the diet should include soups made with regular or sea vegetables.



Other items allowed include sweeteners such as barley malt, rice syrup, and apple juice; such seasonings as miso, tamari, soy sauce, rice or cider vinegar, sesame oil , tahini, and sea salt; occasional small amounts of seeds and nuts (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and almonds); and white-meat fish one or two times a week. Beverages allowed include tea made from twigs, stems, brown rice, and dandelion root, apple juice, and good-quality water without ice.



Items not allowed include meat; dairy products; fruits; refined grains; anything with preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings, or chemicals; all canned, frozen, processed, and irradiated foods; hot spices; caffeine; alcohol; refined sugar, honey, molasses, and chocolate.





Just my thoughts on it: I do like the philosophy of food and eating being a spiritual experience. I know for me, trying to eat a vegan diet has everything to do with my spiritual and personal beliefs about God/Goddess/Deity of your choice, and how a person should live in accordance with nature and not abuse it. If some need the more structured macrobiotic diet tailored around their needs, then I see no problem with that. I guess my biggest gripe with the macrobiotic diet, besides the fact that it limits what fruits and veggies one can eat, is that while it focuses on a holistic approach to life and eating, it's still mainly a "for your health" based diet and doesn't address the other problems with eating things like meat, dairy, refined sugars, etc. I think that more people might be interested in it if it emphasized the moral, social and ecological reasons people should abstain from these products. JMHO
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#28 Old 02-28-2004, 02:31 AM
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I can see that eating locally has benefits for the environment, avoiding the use of fossil fuel for transporting the food. But I don't think it makes a difference for my health. I'm a third generation American. Does this mean foods from Italy, Germany, Ireland, and Poland are good for me? I'm probably missing something though.
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#29 Old 02-28-2004, 12:26 PM
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my understanding of the eat locally concept is to be in synch with the season / climate of where you are...so if its winter, eating heavier foods that are in season for 'warmth' as opposed to lighter foods for 'coolness'
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#30 Old 02-28-2004, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoesÃ*a View Post

I knew someone who was a vegetarian for years that was in a macro-biotic cooking class and she told me that one day the teacher had them make lamb. Huh?!?!?! And she said she ate it and so did a lot of other people who had been vegitarians because they believed in what the teacher said. Isn't that bizarre? You'd never catch me eating meat because my macro teacher said to eat it! And it just doesn't seem like that could be correct that lamb is macro. Is there anyone who knows the answer to that?



From what I understand, Macros are into eating what is seasonal. They occasionally will eat meat. Macro is not the same as being vegetarian. I think the whole deal is sticking with "whole and natural foods."



Doh -- but this has probably been said a million times in this thread by now.
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