What is a Macrobiotic Diet

What is a macrobiotic diet? It is a diet designed with a view to improve our health and well-being because it is believed that what we eat has a great impact on our lives. Following a macrobiotic diet means eating food that is not processed and thus conventional methods of cooking are used. Eating a simple and a well balanced diet is what a macrobiotic diet is all about. In the 1920s, George Ohsawa, the founder of modern day macrobiotics asserted that he was cured of a grave illness by modifying his diet. What macrobiotics means is ‘the great life’ and it means living in harmony with all of nature that surrounds you.

Macrobiotics is very akin to the Yin and Yang theory of the Chinese. Yin and yang work in different directions. A balance between the two is to be maintained for good health and this is the essence of a macrobiotic diet. While yin is passive, sweet and cold, yang is more aggressive, saline and hot. Perfect health means a perfect balance between the two.

Foods vary in their tastes and properties. So grains and vegetables are important in a macrobiotic diet because they are classified as neutral foods, not having very strong yin or yang. Light foods are good for maintaining a balance between yin and yang, foods that are heavy are preferably avoided in a macrobiotic diet. A macrobiotic diet consists of organically grown grains and vegetables. Foods in their natural form are the best. Unpolished rice, oats and other kinds of millets are considered to be the basis of a balanced diet. Though whole grain is the preferred choice, small quantities of products made from refined flour is allowed.

One third of the macrobiotic diet consists of fresh and organically grown vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, collards, onion, pumpkin, kale, etc. Vegetables should not be over cooked as they lose their flavor. They must be parboiled, steamed or fried lightly in unrefined corn or sesame oil. Sea vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals should also comprise a small portion of a macrobiotic diet. Beans like lentils and chickpeas should also be included. Soya in the form of tofu and soya used as a paste in soups and broths with beans and vegetables are good additions.

Seafood, dry fruits and pulses should also form a part of a good macrobiotic diet and should be consumed weekly. Malt extracted from barley and rice syrup are good examples of sweeteners as is plum or brown rice vinegar. Food flavorings used should be pure and natural like sea salt and Tamari soy sauce.

Drinking water or any other beverage in a macrobiotic diet is recommended only when one gets thirsty. Teas that are strong and have caffeine must be avoided whereas teas prepared from roasted grain and green teas are acceptable. Water used for drinking and the preparation of food must be filtered and clean.

Poultry and milk, cheese or clarified buttered must all be avoided as they have very prominent yang properties. On the other hand citrus and other fruit juices, spicy food and caffeine in any form must be avoided as they have very prominent yin properties. Processed foods must not be consumed as they have preservatives and unnatural flavors. You must remember that a macrobiotic diet is not just a diet – it is a way of life.

By: Rachel Gillespe -

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Rachel Gillespe is a staff writer at Diet Gazette and is an occasional contributor to several other websites, including Women's Digest.