Words of Wisdom
"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are."
~ Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Cookery Course at Concord Institute London‘Dear Melanie, Thanks for such a wonderful and inspiring cooking course. I learnt so many tricks, different ways of cutting, cooking styles, and how ...Read On
Questions Answered About Macrobiotics
What does Macrobiotics mean?Macrobiotics literally means great life. In the broadest sense anything that contributes to living a great life is macrobiotic. It is most commonly viewed as a grain and vegetable based diet although diet is rather limiting and ‘a way of life’ is more accurate.
Is Macrobiotics a diet?
Actually it is lifestyle and the way to create health in the biggest sense. Grains and vegetables help to develop a healthy body, mind and spirit. Health is about connecting to your inner self, to others and the earth. I think health is also about creating balance in your life. How to balance discipline and freedom. Discipline comes from the food you eat, routines, exercise, meditating, aligning with nature etc. Natural food is the key to opening the door to freedom. The freedom to be yourself, to do the things that make your heart sing and to have the vitality to live a full, exciting and adventurous life.
It is also important to understand that health is a direction, something you move towards rather than attain. Food is one form of nourishment and other forms are important too such as music, art, hobbies, exercising outdoors, laughter, creating a nourishing environment in the home and respecting nature. Even using natural cleaners and wearing natural fibers are essential to your health. Everything is connected. Chemicals and man made fibers, which are toxic to you, are also a drain on the earth’s natural resources.
Macrobiotics is really a deep reverence for nature. The principles are based on the idea that life is always in a state of movement or a flow between the contacting and expanding energies of the universe.
Good, wholesome, natural food enables you to create a strong healthy foundation but it doesn’t end there. You cannot expect food to be your insurance. It is almost like putting gas in your car. The higher the quality the better but you still need to start the car up, plan where you are going, get in, drive and find the way. I think some people become food obsessed in macrobiotics, which is normal at beginning but then you need to go further and seek out the big adventure of life.
Is Macrobiotics difficult to practice?
Any new routine can seem difficult at the beginning. I think it depends on the motivation and desire for change. I never felt it was difficult, it was very exciting. Macrobiotic studies opened up my life to new ideas and experiences. I think it depends on why you wish to practice. The lifestyle is broad in many ways and also has certain principles. Many people come to macrobiotics because of a series health problem. There is pressure created when your life is on the line and the desire to ‘do it right’. There is also a time factor, which creates even more pressure. However, if you wish to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and can make changes at your own pace, then it is much easier to follow a relaxed and open approach. You can slowly begin to incorporate new foods and lifestyle changes.
We all have strong emotional ties to food, which can evoke memories of past and feelings of comfort. Letting go of those foods can feel difficult and change isn’t easy for any of us. I always encourage people to view it as a new adventure or hobby. I think it is easier to practice macrobiotics these days because the foods are more accessible and it is more socially acceptable.
Are the dietary recommendations very strict?
There is huge variety within the diet and the combinations of ingredients and dishes are endless. If you have a series health problem, it may be necessary to eat very carefully in the beginning to re-gain your healing ability and inner strength. In that case, I think it is important to focus on what you can have, rather than dwell on what you can’t. The key to health is to learn how to create variety even if you have to eat carefully. We have a tendency to think that if something is going to work, we have to struggle and sort of suffer through. I don’t think this is always the healthiest way. I think we should relish our choices and really love what we do and that is when deep healing can begin. Eating carefully doesn’t have to be forever. Sometimes at the beginning though, it might be necessary to cleanse the body and re-gain inner strength.
Do Macrobiotic dishes take long to prepare?
Compared to fast food, yes and today we live in a fast paced society. Everyone is in a rush. Traditionally everyone cooked and compared to those times, I don’t think macrobiotic meals take any longer.
An important part of nourishing the self and others is the time, energy and love that is put into the cooking. When we cook for our family/friends, we think about them and our energy goes into the food and that is very healing. Even local restaurants put love into their food. This is a vital part of health. It is possible to make fantastic, nourishing, healthy meals quickly too. I can make a great meal in one hour and that is cooking for about 9 people!! In the beginning you need time to practice like any new hobby, sport or discipline but it becomes easier the more you cook.
Are Macrobiotic foods good for children?
Fantastic!! I don’t think I would be sane today if I had raised my children on fast food. Again, variety is the key. Children need that especially to keep active and to play sports etc. Children like to experiment too and do what their friends do, I think it is important to be flexible with children, encourage but not force. Eating should be a pleasure not a battle.
Who can eat Macrobiotics?
Anyone. It is very adaptable and you can vary the diet according to lifestyle, age, location, race, culture and traditions etc. For example, a person living in a very hot climate and working outdoors would need to eat very differently to someone working in an office in a cold climate.
How do you suggest people start to make changes?
Start slowly. Begin by using better quality ingredients, making new dishes each week and using whole grains and vegetables on a regular basis. Buy books on macrobiotics and macrobiotic cooking. Contact macrobiotic centers or sign up for cooking classes.
Are the foods easy to buy?
Becoming much easier. When I started macrobiotics it was almost impossible unless you went to a specialized natural food store. Now can get many things in supermarkets.
Can Macrobiotic foods help you lose weight?
Yes and in a healthy way, if you are careful not to eat too much oil, salt or flour products.
What are the benefits of following the Macrobiotic lifestyle?
There are numerous benefits. The biggest ones for me were increased energy and stamina. Also increased clarity of thinking, creativity developed, deeper sleep, small aches and pains disappeared, helped stabilize emotions, calming, increased ability to deal with stress, could handle more pressure and my appetite for life grew.
Puts you in the driver’s seat with regards to your own health and that of your family. Increases longevity, improves skin, helps you look younger. Helps prevent simple ailments such as headaches, PMS, allergies and recovery from fevers, flu and colds is quicker. The principles help you to understand, that you are part of something bigger, to feel a connection to your fellow men and to develop gratitude for life, a love of nature and the natural desire to help others.