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What is the Macrobiotic Diet?

By: Jenn Moss

The Macrobiotic Diet pulls from the concepts of Buddhist spirituality, using the notions of yin and yang, coupled with foods to produce a way of eating. It is claimed that certain foods fall closer to the side of yin (associated with earth, dark, and cold) and others fall closer to yang (associated with heaven, heat, and light). You may be thinking that this sounds a little bit out there. Isn’t food, just well, food? The Macrobiotic Diet claims to differ, saying that it is essential to balance both the yin and yang to live a healthy and fulfilled life.

 A Brief Bit of History

This way of eating was conceptualized and popularized in the 1930s by George Ohsawa, and then later passed on with his disciple, Michio Kushi, who opened an institute to further the teachings of The Macrobiotic Diet. He passed away in 2015 but is known as one of the great pioneers in the natural food movement.

What Can I Eat on this Diet?

Now that we know a little bit more about the history and intent about the diet, let’s talk about the most important thing — the food. What may deter some away from this diet is the strict rules on what you can and cannot eat. The Macrobiotic Diet focuses heavily on reducing the consumption of animal products such as meat and dairy, and therefore implementing locally sourced grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, all in moderation. It is said that two to three times a week, you can eat locally sourced white fish, seeds, nuts, and seasonal fruits.

What Can I Drink?

Because of the restriction on dairy products, and the need to have yin and yang balanced out, finding the right drinks may be difficult. However, some drinks options do apply. For example, roasted barley tea, amaske, bancha tea, roasted rice tea, spring, or well water is compliant. Also, you can have things such as seed or nut milk, as well as fermented beer on occasion.

Is it Sustainable?

While this diet does implement a great focus on eating vegetables, and grains, it may be hard for people to obtain in the long run. This diet has helped many people lose weight in the short-term, but for the long term, it may be hard because of the extreme rules surrounding the food. Also, these rules deplete many healthy food choices that should be implemented into daily eating.