The Macrobiotic Diet is Japanese in origin and combines Zen Buddhism philosophies with Asian and Western doctrines. It is a lifestyle, rather than an eating recommendation, promoting the use of natural and organic products. Macrobiotic practices are not scientifically proven as beneficial although there is some suggestion that this diet may aid in the prevention of cancer.
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The history of macrobiotics
The principle behind macrobiotics first surfaced in the 1930s from George Ohsawa, a philosopher. Three decades later, Ohsawa arrived in the United States and his teachings began to gain widespread attention. He mentored Michio Kushi, who ultimately became associated with the more popular Americanized version of the lifestyle and diet practices. Diet is just part of the overall macrobiotic approach. It is the food, however, that seems to bind the philosophy of living, attitude, and spiritualism for many practitioners. Early versions of the diet consisted of several stages in which food choices became progressively restrictive. The tenth stage required lifelong subsistence on water and brown rice, which was supposedly the ideal balance between yin and yang. This extremely poor nutritional recommendation is no longer promoted and is arguably detrimental to an individual’s health. Practitioners believe that food is elevated to a higher level than mere consumption. Therefore, it must be prepared in specific ways, using proper equipment, typically without relying on electricity. In order to create spiritual as well as physical energy, a diet must be prepared and eaten in peaceful surroundings, and each bite must be chewed thoroughly.
The Macrobiotic Diet: all about balance
The macrobiotic diet is highly focused on vegetarianism and cereals in particular. However, whole grains, vegetables, and some proteins are incorporated to provide balance. Generally, every meal should include a sensory approach: sour, sharp, salty, bitter, and sweet. It is believed that an extreme concentration on any singular food is severely detrimental to vitality and emotions. Seasonal variations present themselves as well: Cold foods should offset warmer temperatures while hot foods such as soups should be incorporated into the diet during colder months. Avoiding processed foods is critical. The list of excluded foods includes fatty meats, sugars, most dairy, coffee, caffeinated tea, poultry, potatoes, peppers, zucchini, and some fish. Indigenous, organically-grown fruits are allowed. Because vitamin and mineral supplements are prohibited, it is often difficult to achieve a truly nutritional regimen. When selecting foods for a macrobiotic diet, the following important elements should be considered: the region in which the food is grown; how the food was seeded, grown, and harvested; its true potassium levels; how it will affect body organs. It is then up to the practitioner to create combinations of foods that will achieve the proper balance. Anyone choosing to follow a macrobiotic diet should seek advice on proper meal planning with regard to lifestyle, age, and level of activity.
The Macrobiotic Diet is quite unique and there certainly aren't many obvious alternatives. If Zen diet philosophies aren't your cup of tea perhaps consider the Vegetarian Diet or the custom diet program at eDiets.
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