What is Macrobiotics?
The concept of macrobiotics relates to a specific type of diet that focuses on whole food, a balance of mind and body, and using the environment for nourishment.
Macrobiotic Definition & History
Originating in the early 1920’s, the macrobiotic diet was developed by Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa. With the intention of forming a diet practice that leads to a long, healthy life, Oshawa macrobiotics is intended to allow the follower to live in harmony with nature. The general concept of the macrobiotic diet is to eat local, in-season food, centring around vegetarian Japanese cuisine. It is a holistic look at human and global health from a broad perspective, focusing on a balanced diet rich in nutrients devoid of harmful toxins and non-organic ingredients.
The macrobiotic diet was started by Oshawa following his observation of the general population’s experiences of failing health as a result of a carnivorous diet. With many studies contributing to the overall belief that high consumption of red meat, genetically modified foods, and other non-organic meals result in poor health, the macrobiotic diet was created to combat these lasting negative effects.
Today, the macrobiotic Japanese diet is a popular choice for varied groups of people looking to reap the speculated health benefits - mainly, living a longer life - as a result. Many celebrities follow the diet as a means to maintain their health longer in life through consuming healthy, whole foods. Additionally, many people who suffer from cancer turn to a macrobiotic diet as a complementary therapy, using the health-forward diet to alleviate the harmful effects of cancer.
What is a Macrobiotic Diet?
The general model of the macrobiotic diet is, at its core, easy to follow. Overall, it is a healthy diet based on strong Japanese culture that requires balance.
The diet consists mainly of brown rice, wakame seaweed, and miso soup. These three main food groups of the diet are often complemented with a series of side dishes, including seasonal vegetables such as kinpira. It is best for these vegetables to be locally grown and organic, making up a quarter of each meal. If you’re looking to branch out beyond the seaweed and miso soup, soups that include vegetables, beans, lentils, and other healthy, nutrient-dense ingredients can be substituted.
The primary focus of the diet, though, lies with the consumption of brown rice for at least half of the meals themselves. The diet calls to avoid consumption of meat, eggs, dairy, and other animal products.
Following the Ideas of Macrobiotic Dieting
Beyond food groups, the macrobiotic diet calls for a certain level of intuitive eating and control. Only eating when hungry, and listening to your body to understand when it is full, you are following your mind and body’s intuition as it relates to hunger and satisfaction.
Considered a pillar, the “Yin and Yang” traditional oriental view of the world is highly influential of the macrobiotic diet. Yin and yang represent opposite forces that attract one another and support each other, providing where the other lacks. In terms of the diet, the yin and yang represent one’s balance in what they eat, ensuring they apply this balance to the distribution of meals.
Due to the nutritional benefits of the portions of meals within the macrobiotic diet, it is a common heald practice to “eat the whole thing” in regards to each of the portions of any meal. This includes any skin, roots, seeds, and other parts of vegetables and sides one may normally discard. The idea of using what you have to its fullest and reaping all the nutritional benefits they offer.
The idea of consuming each portion of the meal in full relates back to the final pillar of macrobiotic dieting - the concept of Shindo Fuji, meaning “the body and mind are inseparable”. This focuses on the connection between the mind and body in regards to intuitive eating, and becoming acquainted with the environment and what it has to offer us. Eating each part of a vegetable, fruit, or other macrobiotic food demonstrates our utility of what the world has to offer.
This concept of a deep connection with ourselves and the surrounding environment is thought to contribute to an overall healthier way of living.
Macrobiotic meals consist of the three main pieces of the macrobiotic diet: whole grains, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and soups.
All macrobiotic recipes focus on the use of whole foods to make up the three portions of a macrobiotic meal. Vegan meals, including miso soup, various vegetables, brown rice, and other nutrient-dense foods fit the macrobiotic perfectly.
Some popular Japanese macrobiotic diet recipes include miso soup, barley soup, prepared seasonal vegetables like edamame, okra, and goya, and many others.
There are many modern recipes today that incorporate these macrobiotics that use ingredients outside the definitive constraints of the diet. Incorporating these ingredients into your everyday meals is a great way to follow the diet without changing your lifestyle.