Macrobiotics: Diet and Lifestyle for Long-term Health
A frequent misunderstanding about macrobiotics is that it
is a diet sick people use – cancer patients especially – in
order to heal. While it is true that a macrobiotic
approach has helped a great many people get well,
macrobiotics is much more than a mere diet, and it is for
everyone. Whether you’re recovering from illness or simply
interested in having greater vitality, macrobiotics is a
wholistic, natural system for good health and long life.
“Let food by thy medicine, and medicine thy food,” is a
saying from the ancient Greek philosopher Hippocrates, who
also coined the term “macrobiotics.” In Greek, “makro”
means long or large, and “bio” means life. A macrobiotic
approach to good health begins with food and cooking,
extending to include lifestyle and exercise. Daily walks,
a grateful state of mind, and meditation for centering
oneself are among the practices of the system. Its purpose
is to create a state of health that supports rather than
prevents a full and vibrant life.
Since Hippocrates coined the term, we know that the
principles of macrobiotics have been around a long time.
They’re the same concepts that you’ll find in any modern
day nutrition or fitness class: high fiber, low fat, plenty
of vegetables and grains, limited meat. Going beyond these
basics, macrobiotics also includes healing foods such as
sea vegetables and ginger root.
To bring balance to one’s physical and emotional condition
through utilizing food is the macrobiotic focus. Foods
that have nutritional and energetic balance – yin and yang –
are used: legumes, beans, whole grains, and vegetables
dominate. Red meat, dairy, refined sugar, and coffee are
examples of foods without balance and they are eliminated.
For flavor, variety, and seasonal virtue, some oils, nuts,
and fruits are used in small amounts. The variety adds
interest and also increases the nutrient range. The end
result is food both wholesome and delicious.
It is critically important that the food tastes good
because food is sensual, and if it doesn’t appeal to our
senses, we won’t eat it in the long run. It might take a
bit of time to develop the taste for macrobiotic cuisine
because it is light and elegant in its simplicity. Here is
an example of typically combined macrobiotic ingredients
for an easy and tasty meal.
*Nutty Rice with Vegetables*
Cook 2 cups short or long grain brown rice in sea-salted
water (2 and 1/2 cups water with 2 pinches sea salt). Cover
the pot tightly for 30-40 minutes on very low heat.
Parboil these vegetables separately for two minutes or
less: 1/4 cup diced carrot, and 1/4 cup diced red onion,
and 2 cups florets of broccoli. Allow to cool.
In a dry frying pan toast 1/2 cup walnuts over medium heat
for five minutes. Puree the toasted walnuts with one
teaspoon barley miso dissolved in some water.
Mix together the vegetables, rice, and puree. Then add the
grated peel of a lemon. Serve this dish warm or cool,
rather than hot or cold. Enjoy!
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