Welcome to the world of Macrobiotics, where food magically heals and recreates our health, where we learn about freedom and what it means to live our dreams. Is this the Land of Oz? Could be! Macrobiotics means Great Life, literally. Macro is Great, and Biotic is Life, all life.
So what’s special about the Macrobiotic way of eating? Unlike other diets, Macrobiotics approaches food from the energetics of the food. That is to say, what is the energetic nature of the food and how that energy affects us when we eat it. The Macrobiotic approach to eating also pays attention to the style of cooking, or preparation of the dish. There are some 20 styles of cooking: steaming, water-sautéing, oil sautéing,oil-less sautéing, frying, deep-frying, nishimi, kinpira, pressed, soup, pressure cooking, boiling, blanching, baked, raw. And ingredients! Macrobiotic cooking classes are the best places to learn about the ingredients! Seeing them in action: how veggies are cut, gathered in bowls, soaked, dry roasted, rinsed, seasoned and more!
Tasting the finished dish is the reward! You’ve never tasted dishes like these. Organic and the highest quality Macrobiotic products makes a great difference too. This is not miso soup served at your neighborhood Japanese restaurant. No, this miso is made in the tradition of thousands of years ago, and aged a minimum of 3 years, maybe more. And the shoyu or tamari is made like hundreds of years ago, when its medicinal qualities were already known. And the bancha tea has been lightly simmered 10 minutes with just the adequate amount of precious twigs to reach the perfect gold amber color. All the food balancing your body and blood to it’s preferred alkalinity. That’s a Macrobiotic Diet.
So what about the fads? Does the Raw Diet take into consideration how to achieve digestibility of the nutrients of the food by cooking them just long enough to bring the enzymes closer to the surface of the vegetables like a Macrobiotic cook does when blanching the vegetables? Do they realize we want to blanche the veggie just long enough for the color to brighten even if it’s only 10-20 seconds. And the water must stop boiling when the veg is added or we know our flame is too high. To gently spread and cool the vegetables in a pyrex dish to stop the cooking. Without dipping it into cold water and rinsing away the vitamins.
And what about the Salt? Only the Macrobiotic Diet considers the quality of the Salt? Si Salt, sea salt, from the Kushi Institute is the lightest, finest salt in the world, with all 67 trace minerals still within the salt, and yet fine as can be. Sure there is sodium and chloride like in the commercial salts in your local grocery, but they’ve had the other trace minerals removed ~ a whole other story. And guess what’s added to commercial salt? Sucrose. Read the labels next time you’re in the store ~ this stunned me too. And our pinch of Si Salt Sea Salt is teeny, and we have no salt shakers on our table. Why? Because as you’ll learn in your Macrobiotic Cooking Class, salt cooks into the food in 10 minutes ~ yep, that’s what it takes.
And now, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s diet which is very much in today’s news. Based more on carbs and calories. A good start, like Dr. Dean Ornish who’s program Fred and I first started right after Fred’s heart surgery in 1992. Eliminate all meat and eat vegetables and fruit. But there’s no differentiation between which vegetables are more alkaline and which more acidic, like the nightshade vegetables and other tropical vegetables and fruit, which are on the Occasional or Avoid List in the Macrobiotic Diet.
The Macrobiotic Diet also considers the health condition of the individual and in Private Consultation, the Macrobiotic Counselor will recommend which foods to avoid, which foods to wait and introduce later, and which dishes and cooking styles to select. Dr. Esselstyn also does not pay attention to the difference between cooking with gas, electric, microwaving or grilling – quite elementary in Macrobiotic Cooking. Gas stove cooking is far superior in changing health condition, being the closest to cooking over an open fire, which man-kind has always done. When we think about it, electric stoves are a relatively new invention, as is the microwave which is not even allowed in most European countries.
And as his son Rip Esselstyn’s Engine Diet DVD shows, there is no concern about eating standing up or chewing the food well. Essential elements in the Macrobiotic Lifestyle. Sitting down to regular meals everyday*. Which is a three-part commentary, and the basics of Macrobiotic eating. Sitting down at a meal, and only eating. Not reading, not opening the mail, not googling, face booking or checking emails! and not talking on the phone or texting. Just eating.
And chewing. Chewing each bite to liquid before swallowing to capture the digestive enzymes for each bite’s journey through our digestive systems. Isn’t that neat? I love that. So actually 30 chews per bite is minimal for the digestive enzymes to secrete below our tongue, and the chews from the previous bite don’t count. This isn’t like collecting airline miles on your credit card. Each bite stands all by itself. I have a client who reminds me, and himself, we have 21 meals each week, and he wants them to count for his health. Chewing is essential.
Regular meals is the second part of the statement. That means Breakfast between 5-7 am, before 8 at the latest. Lunch between 11-1, Dinner 5-7 pm, and finishing eating 3 hours before bedtime. Sleep is for rest and renewal to awaken fresh each morning, not the time for digestion. We are a country of insomnia because of the irregular eating and late-nite eating persisting.
The Everyday is the final part of this Macrobiotic guideline. Yes, keeping regular meals Everyday aligns all our functions regularly: sleep, waking up, bowels, menstrual cycles, alertness and more.
Dean Ornish, Dr. Esselstyn and his son Rip have greatly contributed to people making healthy lifestyle and diet changes. The change from meat to vegetables, grain and beans makes a huge difference in heart health and cancer diagnosis as their clients prove.
Macrobiotics to some may seem more complex because there are more guidelines and more new and different ingredients previously unknown. To some it may seem like a whole new language, and a whole new experience in the kitchen. I was excited about Macrobiotics from the get-go! And fascinated with my new food, and the health benefits of these new ingredients. That my husband could take dried shiitake mushrooms instead of baby aspirin the rest of his life was absolutely miraculous to me. And the Umeboshi plum could be made into a drink before a dental appointment and avoiding the antibiotics required for a heart patient, astounding.
And how Macrobiotic teachers had researched the history of food, what indigenous people had eaten throughout the centuries, what our ancestors ate and why. All of this incredible information about our food. In addition, considering where the food actually originate – in the Temperate Zone where we live, or in the Tropics. This differentiation is a deciding factor on where each food fit: recommending it for Regular, Occasional Use, or Avoid most of the time. And that being said, when might a food actually be recommended to change a condition even though it lives on the Avoid list! That’s the flexibility and to me the beauty and strength of Macrobiotics. And maybe the mystery of it all.
Some people say it’s too hard. Hard? Hard was never a word we used when Fred was healing from heart surgery twenty years ago. No. What would have been hard would be not knowing the best foods for my dear beloved husband. Not knowing how to prepare the foods, not knowing the electric stove needed to be changed for a gas stove, not knowing about the chewing, sitting down to regular meals, avoiding late night eating.
All these changes and refinements gave us insight to healing and a sense of control in our health. Did that mean we never went to a party, and ate after 8 pm at a wedding? Of course not. That’s part of life, social eating, that 5% of eating whatever you want – ewyw. But that’s not everyday. Everyday is sitting down to regular meals prepared so lovingly with our Macrobiotic quality ingredients on our gas stove. Chewing well, sitting 5-20 minutes after the meal, digesting well, and using our daily walk, body rub and other Macrobiotic lifestyle suggestions to further enhance our health. That’s freedom. That’s getting to do what you want in life. And enjoying Macrobiotic gourmet meals all along the way.
So if you’ve made your first change with Dr. Esselstyn, Rip, Dr. Dean Ornish, Congratulations! You’ve taken your first step toward changing your health. When you get ready for a bit more, treat yourself and read Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. An easy and beautifully written explanation of the Macrobiotic Diet, Alicia sees Warren Kramer, our same Senior Macrobiotic Counselor when he’s in Los Angeles, and she tells everyone on her website, The Kind Life, be sure you see Warren Kramer when he comes to your city!
After reading Alicia’s book, people say, ohmygosh, this makes so much sense. Now take your health to the next level. Join us for Macrobiotic Cooking Classes! You are always Welcome! as they say at Motel 6, We’ll leave the lights on for You!
*Read more about the structure of a Macrobiotic Diet in Denny Waxman’s The Great Life Diet.