Here is some basic information about the macrobiotic diet, a philosophy of health and lifestyle focused on balance, local and seasonal resources, and simple nutrition that I have taken from Wikipedia for a simple explanation. I have additional resources I am happy to share with anyone who is interested in learning more…
Followers of the traditional macrobiotic approach believe that food and food quality powerfully affect health, well-being, and happiness, and that a traditional locally based macrobiotic diet has more beneficial effects than others. The modern macrobiotic approach suggests choosing food that is less processed.
One goal of modern macrobiotics is to become sensitive to the actual effects of foods on health and well-being, rather than to follow dietary rules and regulations. Dietary guidelines, however, help in developing sensitivity and an intuitive sense for what sustains health and well-being.
Japanese 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). Whole grains and whole-grain products such as brown rice and buckwheat pasta (soba), a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, beans and bean products, mild natural seasonings, fish, nuts and seeds, mild (non-stimulating) beverages such as bancha twig tea and fruit are recommended.
Some Japanese macrobiotic theorists, including George Ohsawa, stress the fact that yin and yang are relative qualities that can only be determined in a comparison. All food is considered to have both properties, with one dominating. Foods with yang qualities are considered compact, dense, heavy, hot, whereas those with yin qualities are considered expansive, light, cold, and diffuse. However, these terms are relative; “yangness” or “yingness” is only discussed in relation to other foods.
Brown rice and other whole grains such as barley, millet, oats, quinoa, spelt, rye, and teff are considered by macrobiotics to be the foods in which yin and yang are closest to being in balance. Therefore, lists of macrobiotic foods that determine a food as yin or yang generally compare them to whole grains.
Nightshade vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant; also spinach, beets and avocados are not recommended or used sparingly in macrobiotic cooking, as they are considered extremely yin. Some macrobiotic practitioners also discourage the use of nightshades because of the alkaloid solanine, thought to affect calcium balance. Some proponents of a macrobiotic diet believe that nightshade vegetables can cause inflammation in the body and osteoporosis.
Some Basic Macrobiotic Ingredients
Some general guidelines for the Japanese style macrobiotic diet are the following (it is also said that a macrobiotic diet varies greatly, depending on geographical and life circumstances):
- Well chewed whole cereal grains, especially brown rice: 40–60%
- Vegetables: 25–30%
- Beans and legumes: 5–10%
- Miso soup: 5%
- Sea vegetables: 5%
- Traditionally or naturally processed foods: 5–10%
Fish and seafood, seeds and nuts, seed and nut butters, seasonings, sweeteners, fruits, and beverages may be enjoyed occasionally, 2–3 times per week. Other naturally raised animal products may be included if needed during dietary transition or according to individual needs.