Frequently Asked Questions About Macrobiotics...
and The Hip Chick's Answers:
What is Macrobiotics?
macrobiotic comes from "macro" which means large, big or great, and
"bios" which means "life". So to practice macrobiotics is to practice
the art of a great life. Sometimes this means that your life is totally
groovy, but it also means that the person eating macrobiotic foods
begins to perceive things from a wider and wider perspective; we see
the ups and downs of life and ride them like good surfers. When you
perceive a bigger picture, you can let go of the small stuff.
What do you eat?
practicing macrobiotics mix and match from the following foods: whole
grains, beans and bean products (like tofu), organic vegetables (local
and in season), soups, sea vegetables (a/k/a seaweed!), desserts
(sweetened with rice syrup, barley malt, fruit and sometimes maple
syrup), a little fish, a little fruit, pickles (to aid digestion),
condiments (to provide minerals), nuts, seeds and non aromatic teas.
However, every person has different needs depending on their age,
gender, lifestyle and ambitions. Plus, the real spirit of macrobiotics
is about freedom; one eats healthy food most of the time so that one
can eat more extreme foods some of the time. So people in good health
can go out and "play", having a glass of wine, or a piece of chocolate
cake, or . . . whatever, when they feel it's appropriate to the
occasion. They then return to their regular macro foods in order to
maintain their health and eventually "play" again.
What are Yin and Yang?
philosophy comes down to explaining everything through the lens of yin
and yang. Yang force creates contracting and inward movement while yin
force creates expansion and outward movement. From these fundamental
forces we get everything: light and dark, speed and slowness, hot and
cold, hard and soft, etc. All dualities can be seen through this lens.
In macrobiotic thinking, it is believed that if we eat foods that are
whole, local and in season, that our bodies get the perfect yin ness
and yang ness needed for the natural environment in which we live. When
we harmonize with nature, we experience strength, flexibility, freedom
and happiness. Tropical foods are great for people living in the
tropics; they provide the perfect yin ness and yang ness to balance the
extreme heat. Likewise, blueberries are a great fruit for people in New
England. When we start to eat really really yin foods like bananas,
pineapples, yogurt and sugar (smoothie, anyone?) day after day in New
York City, we lose touch with the natural world and eventually become
weakened by all the excess yin force.
Why do people use the macrobiotic diet to recover from cancer and other serious illness?
thinking, all illness begins with becoming out-of-sync with the natural
environment. And the primary way that we do that is by putting food
inside of us that has nothing to do with nature. Yes, there are other
factors—lifestyle, emotional stressors and living next a to a
nuclear power plant—and they all need to be addressed, but food
is always either working for or against your health and freedom. Many
people have found that when they return to whole, macrobiotic foods and
respect the laws of yin and yang, their bodies rediscover a natural
balance that supports their healing.
Isn't it too much work?
I'm not going to
lie to you, cooking macrobiotic food takes time. That's why in The Hip
Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics, I encourage people to start by simply
cooking and eating whole grains on a daily basis. Most whole grains
take about an hour to cook, but if that's all you're cooking, you can
just put the pot on and then leave it while you get ready for work. In
my experience, after people begin to eat whole grains daily, the one
hour a day of cooking necessary to stay macrobiotic creates
itself—suddenly you need less sleep, you don't want to watch as
much TV, your body feels light, happy and begins to demand that you
cook for yourself. So by the time you get to cooking an hour a day, you
will want to cook an hour a day—it will be creative, pleasurable
and empowering. But don't worry about that right now. Just make some
brown rice and chew it well. You don't have to do anything perfectly.
Will I lose weight?
By sticking to
the basics (whole grains, vegetables, beans, etc.—see above) most
people with excess on their bodies lose it. And usually pretty fast.
However, if you're downing jars of almond butter slathered on bread all
the time, it will be harder to lose the weight. Trust that your body
knows where it's happy. By eating whole foods (especially grains) on a
daily basis, chewing them well, your body will find that place on its
own, without your obsessing about it. It will also trip upon health,
emotional balance and inner peace. Cool.
Where do I get the food?
health-food stores have a section that houses its weird macro
stuff—like sea vegetables, condiments and kuzu (a natural
thickener). Just ask anyone at the store. Organic vegetables can be
found just about anywhere these days (thank You Goddess). Ditto grains
and beans. If you have trouble finding a macrobiotic food, check the
resources section of this website or of The Hip Chick's Guide to
Macrobiotics to get help.
Is it expensive?
Some items are
pricey. Sea vegetables, for instance, are expensive, but you don't use
them really quickly and they are well worth it in terms of your health.
Umeboshi plums and miso are also not cheap, but they are also like
SUPERPOWER foods, and any expensive macro food is balanced by the
incredibly low prices of grains and beans—your staples. If you're
trading red meat and dairy for grains and beans, your overall food bill
should go down.
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