Going Macrobiotic

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I read, The Challenge of Going Vegan with great interest and agree with many of the points of the blog. Change is always difficult, especially with something so basic as food. I am not completely vegan since I do eat fish from time to time. In 1969, I started to eat brown rice and move towards a macrobiotic diet. My diet has been based on grains, beans, vegetables and a large variety of plant-based foods since that time. I have never looked back at my old way of eating.

Before my macrobiotic practice, I was a confirmed junk food eater: hamburgers, hot dogs, cheesesteaks, pizza, toasted bagels, coke, pastries and Breyer’s vanilla fudge ice cream. I went from a picky eater as a child to a junk-food eater as a teen ager. I shunned most things that were considered real and healthy foods. When I started to eat brown rice on a regular basis I started to crave other foods that I had never eaten before in my life. Other healthy foods started to become appealing. It was a revelation for me. I experienced an intense excitement about discovering and adding new foods to my diet. With each new dish I added, cravings for past foods began to fade away. This process became self-perpetuating. Over the years, I developed my approach to health based on emphasizing adding over taking foods away.

When most people think about diets, losing weight or improving their health, they think about restricting themselves. They think about what they shouldn’t be doing and which enjoyable things they will be giving up. My long time observation and experience is that restriction leads to excess and that this approach is doomed to failure. Food is our strongest desire in life and our cravings inevitably win over time. When a client tells me that they are following my recommendations, but they do not enjoy the food, I know they are headed for trouble. I then spend some time finding out what they do enjoy and how to build on that.

Try to think about adding foods in three categories: grains, vegetables and soups. These are the basics of a healthy way of eating. Add foods that you are familiar with first. For grains try adding brown rice, couscous, oatmeal or polenta into your diet. Complement these grain dishes with steamed greens, sauteed vegetables or a raw salad. Next think about adding vegetable or bean soups made without meat or chicken stock. Try to observe how these new additions affect your appetites and cravings. Focus on finding new, healthy foods that you find exciting and satisfying. Go to restaurants that offer a variety of vegan dishes to get some new ideas.

Natural food and natural activity also complement each other. Go for a walk outside and see how this affects your appetite and taste for healthy foods. Try a yoga class or other more natural activities and watch your craving for foods that are spoiling your health fade away.

Over the years, I began to think that taste is more biological than learned, and is based on our health. When we eat healthier foods, we begin to improve our health and consequently other healthy foods become appealing and satisfying. This only works if we have an open mind and think about adding and eliminating. The process also works in reverse, the more junk-foods we eat, the better they taste. I tell my clients and students that taste for food is a barometer of health. The better your health, the more satisfying healthy foods become. If we lose our taste for healthy foods, something is off in our diet or activity that is causing an imbalance. Correcting this imbalance restores our taste for healthy foods. Think of these changes as a new adventure. Good luck on your new journey.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Exercise, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Recipes, Weight

Bananas

Posted on by Denny Waxman

George Ohsawa is the founder of modern day macrobiotics. One of his guiding principles is that we are one with our environment. Based on this principle, the Strengthening Health Institute recommends that you choose foods that have originated in the same or similar climate in which you live. It is better to choose foods grown to the east and west of you than it is to choose foods grown to the north or south of you. This is because the geographic areas to the east and to the west of us have more or less the same climate as our geographic location. If we travel north or south, we are much more likely to encounter drastic climate changes. We should also choose locally-grown foods when possible. This is not an unbending rule; it is just better to consume out-of-climate food with some discretion.

I find it interesting that bananas, a tropical fruit, are the most popular fruit in America. Bananas are the one fruit that I tell people to avoid. When I think of a banana, I think of an elephant, eating tropical vegetation and fruit, such as a banana. They have have huge bodies, and thick skin from this tropical diet. The ability of lush, tropical vegetation to nourish such large animals shows me how excessive a banana actually is.

Bananas grow in bunches. Each bunch is one fruit and the banana is actually one of the sections. An orange has sections but they are under one skin. This also shows the extreme expansiveness of a banana.

Years ago I had a discussion with another macrobiotic counselor about which was more harmful, a banana or sugar. We completely disagreed. I thought the banana and he thought that sugar was more harmful. It is a difficult question to answer. Many health-conscious people think that sugar is bad for your health and try to minimize it. At the same time, many health-conscious people think that bananas are healthy and eat them freely. We often abuse foods that we think are healthy. On equal terms I would have to say that sugar is worse. However, practically speaking, bananas are probably worse because we feel free to eat them regularly.

I noticed many years ago that the majority of my clients who had serious or even life-threatening illnesses thought that they were already eating healthy foods. They were actually eating many foods that I thought were causing their health problems. Bananas were one of the most commonly-consumed foods among the “healthy” food my clients were eating. I began to suspect that bananas were contributing to certain types of health and allergic problems, and may have even made some types of cancer worse. I acknowledge that there is nothing scientific about these statements; they are simply my observations over a period of years. It seems that the combination of dairy foods and bananas together cause the most problems. When my clients follow my recommendations and replace these foods with healthier choices their health improves.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Diet

Brown Rice Friend or Foe?

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I find it interesting that I posted a blog on the wonders of brown rice on February 15 and this Yahoo News story about the dangers of brown rice was published on February 16, 2012. I guess brown rice is in the air and it is my hope that this exposure will lead to many more people cooking and consuming brown rice on a regular basis.

I am not a medical professional or a medical researcher. I am a macrobiotic professional with more than forty years of experience guiding many thousands of my clients on diet and lifestyle to recover and maintain their health. I have observed the power and benefits of the regular consumption of brown rice on the young and old over these forty years. My own children and their children follow these same dietary and lifestyle practices. You can easily observe that each generation following these practices is stronger, brighter, and more vibrant than the one before. This response is based on my personal experience along with my long-time observation and experience with people practicing macrobiotics, and not as a medical professional.

The benefits of proper macrobiotic practice are varied and all-embracing. They include recovery from cancer, allergies, diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis and weight issues. Many of my clients have also followed my recommendations to successfully overcome infertility, to have healthy pregnancies, and to raise healthy children. Macrobiotic practice can also lead to a more positive attitude towards life in general, better moods, and a renewed or enhanced satisfaction and enjoyment from food.

One of the most common points of macrobiotic practice is the regular or daily consumption of brown rice along with a variety of other grains, grain products, beans and vegetables. Brown rice syrup and other natural sweeteners are also recommended to satisfy sweet cravings. We do not recommend the regular consumption of cereal bars, energy shots or the use of infant formula. On the other hand, we do recommend a mostly plant-based diet based on whole, unrefined, and naturally processed foods. We also encourage people to eat local and seasonal foods when possible.

Most macrobiotic women choose to nurse their children because of the long list of physical, emotional and mental benefits to mother and child. When weaning their babies from breast milk most women tend to move on to homemade grain milk, made from a combination of grains, beans, sesame seeds, and sometimes vegetables. These homemade grain milks are often sweetened to the mild sweetness of breast milk with rice syrup or barley malt. They are used temporarily until the child moves on to more adult consistency foods.

There is a lot of controversy about whether phytic acid is beneficial or harmful in a grain based diet. Phytic acid is found in whole grains, beans, and seeds, including brown rice. Some people think that phytic acid interferes with mineral absorption. I doubt that is true when it is eaten as part of a varied diet together with other mineral sources. I have observed that so many of my clients have increased their bone density from the regular consumption of whole grains, beans, and leafy green vegetables. It may be possible that phytic acid actually gives protection against environmental toxins including heavy metals such as arsenic. It also seems that phytic acid has anti-cancer properties and aids in the regulation of cholesterol and blood sugar.

In order to be careful about arsenic exposure it is best to minimize the consumption of cereal bars, energy shots or the use of infant formula. It is also best to minimize the use of brown rice syrup until we have more information. I will post another blog when I have more information to share. We also recommend using filtered water for both drinking and cooking. The filters we recommend are carbon block water filters that filter out lead, arsenic and other common water contaminates.

I invite everyone and their families to share their personal experiences with the long-time, regular consumption of brown rice together with other whole grains, beans, seeds, and vegetables. Please also share pictures of your children who are born and raised on a varied plant based diet. Let common sense and personal experience prevail to let more and more people know the benefits of this way of eating and living.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Cancer, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy

What’s So Great About Brown Rice Anyway?

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I started to eat brown rice in 1967 after years of indulgence in an almost exclusively junk food diet. Interestingly enough, one of the few foods that I liked in my junk food incarnation was kasha and bow ties, a typical Russian dish, which my mother made on a regular basis. Kasha or buckwheat is commonly eaten in Eastern European countries where my mother is from. There was something about it that I found both delicious and deeply satisfying. It wasn’t until I encountered brown rice in 1967 that I found another food that had a similar degree of satisfaction. I started to eat brown rice because of a challenge from a friend.

Doing that brown rice challenge led me to begin my macrobiotic practice over the course of the next two years. One of the first things I noticed after I started to eat brown rice on a regular basis was that many of the foods that I had avoided in previous years started to become delicious. For years I had refused to eat vegetables other than lettuce and tomato on a sandwich. All of sudden I became attracted to eating vegetables. The only thing I could attribute this change to was my regular consumption of brown rice. One by one, my diet began to widen with healthy foods. I also found that my cravings for junk foods were declining. Brown rice transformed me from a junk food eater to a healthy foodie, almost overnight.

As I became more familiar with brown rice, I discovered that it had some other very interesting qualities. Brown rice is the only cooked grain you can eat everyday and always find it delicious. I discovered this in the early 1970‘s when the crop of brown rice would not last the entire year and we were forced to try eating other grains. Try eating oatmeal or millet everyday for weeks or months and see if it is still appetizing.

Brown rice has two other attributes that I find even more amazing. Whatever you cook with brown rice cooks in the same period of time as the rice, even if it takes much longer to cook without the rice. Chickpeas, which can take hours to cook on their own will cook in one hour when pressure cooked with brown rice. It is the same with other foods with long cooking times.

Brown rice also combines well with and enhances the taste of all other foods. Brown rice combines well with all other grains, all beans, all seeds and nuts, all vegetables, all fruits, all different types of meat, poultry fish, shell fish, all dairy foods, and finally all different types of sweets.

Because brown rice has these unique capabilities, I think it is safe to assume that eating brown rice on a regular basis will also give us unique abilities. My experience is that brown rice helps us in all areas of our life, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Eating brown rice helps us to align with or understand the thoughts and ideas of others, even if they are divergent from our own. I have seen the power of brown rice in helping people to recover their physical health and also to re-direct their lives in many ways. These are bold statements and probably seem hard to believe. So now, I pass the brown rice challenge on to you. Try eating brown rice on a daily basis for two to three weeks. If you experience positive results (and I am confident that you will), please pass this brown rice challenge on to others.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Mental Health

A Response to Dr. John McDougall’s Article “Why Did Steve Jobs Die?”

Posted on by Denny Waxman

John McDougall’s latest newsletter is titled, Why Did Steve Jobs Die? I read this issue with great interest the moment I received it to see Dr. McDougall’s insight into a question that has many people wondering. Would Steve Jobs’ life have been extended if he had surgery for pancreatic cancer 9 months earlier? John McDougall answers this question with an emphatic no. He further goes on to say that his vegan lifestyle, which has been questioned, actually extended his life by slowing the development of his cancer. Dr. McDougall further suggests that chemical exposure and bad luck caused his cancer. This may well be the case but I think there are additional factors to consider.

Throughout my years of macrobiotic counseling I have observed that our digestive system, especially the pancreas and intestines, thrive on order. The pancreas has two functions: one aids digestive and the other regulates blood sugar. Our blood sugar level follows the rising and setting of the sun. In the morning blood sugar rises so that we can wake and be active. At night it lowers so that we can settle down and sleep, Orderly meal times, along with regular sleep and waking times, help to regulate the healthy functioning of our digestive system and pancreas. On the other hand, extremes in diet and lifestyle stress the pancreas, compromising digestion and making blood sugar erratic. Steve Jobs is famous for extremes in his diet, lifestyle and temperament.

The content of meals is also important to healthy digestion. Our body runs on glucose, a simple sugar. The ideal source of glucose is the complex sugars found in whole grains, beans and vegetables that break down slowly through the digestive process. Fructose, found in fruit and many common sweeteners, is another simple sugar that stresses the pancreas. A UCLA study published in the Washington Post states that pancreatic cancer cells proliferate on fructose and not on glucose. Could it be that Steve Job’s episodes of fruitarianism together with his extreme lifestyle promoted his cancer?

My book, The Great Life Diet, is a practical guidebook to creating healthy, balanced meals and lifestyle practices. It is one of my great regrets that I did not have the opportunity to guide Steve Job’s in these simple and life-altering health practices.

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Events, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy

Eight Glasses of Water a Day?

Posted on by Denny Waxman

An article in Scientific American has raised the question as to whether drinking eight glasses of water a day is fact or fiction. I would like to offer some insights into this. Originally George Ohsawa recommended limiting liquid consumption. This recommendation was changed years ago by Michio Kushi to drinking a comfortable amount to satisfy your thirst.

In the modern American diet almost everything is dry. Meat, chicken, cheese, pizza, bagels and chips are all dry. Coffee, alcohol and caffeinated drinks are dehydrating. When you have a plant that is too dry, water runs right through, even though the water is what it needs most. It takes time until the plant can accept and utilize the water. It is a similar situation with the modern diet. When we consume so many dry foods, liquids tend to run through us. We have more of a need to drink continually as see all the time these days.

In traditional diets as well as the macrobiotic way of eating most foods are wet. Cooked grains, beans, vegetables, soups, salads, fruits, etc. all have a high water content. The most important liquid we consume is through our food, especially when well chewed. This liquid does not just pass through us. When we drink some water or mild tea we easily become well hydrated.

In order to stay well-hydrated, try to consume a variety of cooked foods that are naturally moist and refreshing in addition to drinking a comfortable amount of liquid.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics

Did He or Didn’t He? Steve Jobs and Macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Walter Isaacson claimed that Steve Jobs tried to heal himself through alternative healing practices, including “various ways of doing it macrobiotically.” As a macrobiotic teacher and counselor for 40 years, I was disturbed by the light in which macrobiotics was presented in this segment. Furthermore, it does not seem that Steve Jobs’ diet or lifestyle were reflective of a macrobiotic practice.
Introduced to the United States by George Ohsawa and Michio Kushi, and advanced by people like myself, macrobiotics has its roots in traditional Oriental medicine. It is an ever-evolving orderly approach to diet and lifestyle, which does not preclude the use of Western medicine. Macrobiotics is not opposed to surgery or other medical treatments when necessary. Unfortunately, there are many diets that claim to have the efficacy of macrobiotics, but show a true lack of understanding of macrobiotic principles, and therefore often fail. I disagree with Isaacson’s use of the adjective “macrobiotic” in describing Steve Jobs’ diet, as there is no evidence that Steve Jobs sought macrobiotic counseling or practiced a macrobiotic lifestyle.
It is reported that Dr. Dean Ornish advised Mr. Jobs during his illness. While I applaud Dr. Ornish for his holistic approach to health, which includes a low-fat, mostly vegan diet and regular exercise, his plan is not the same as a macrobiotic approach. Macrobiotics is similar to the Ornish plan in that one eats brown rice and vegetables in both diets. However, there are many differences beyond that.

To properly heal oneself of a terminal illness through macrobiotic practice, one must take responsibility for one’s own health, learn the principles, and adapt one’s diet and lifestyle to allow healing to take place. There are no short cuts and everyone has to discover their own path to health. It is also extremely important to seek the guidance of an experienced macrobiotic counselor who will be able to understand your health condition and make proper recommendations.

Regardless of the path chosen, there are no guarantees, and so for Mr. Isaacson to imply that Mr. Jobs would still be alive had he chosen surgery earlier is pure speculation for which there is little or no basis.

Steve Jobs decided on a course of healing that ultimately failed him. Macrobiotics however, did not, as he neither studied nor practiced it.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Events, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Macrobiotics and Medicine, Press

Treats, Not Tricks

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Although the surprise snowstorm kept me from going out and celebrating Halloween this past weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to share some autumnal treats with you today. Below you will find two of my favorite treats for cold autumn days. Many thanks to my wife, Susan Waxman, for letting me share her Crispy Brown Rice Treats recipe.

Hot Apple Cider
Ingredients:
Apple cider
Lemon
Kuzu (optional)

Preparation:
Dilute the apple cider slightly if you find it too sweet.
Hear the apple cider until it is hot but not boiling.
Squeeze in lemon to taste.

Variation for a thicker, warming drink:
Dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon of kuzu in cold water.
Put in a saucepan.
Add 1 cup of cold apple cider (diluted if desired).
Stir on a medium flame until it thickens.
Squeeze in the lemon to taste.

Crispy Brown Rice Teats
This recipe makes enough for a crowd, which is perfect for bringing to a Halloween party or for introducing your trick-or-treaters to whole foods. This quick snack will keep in a tin or glass container for 1 week.

Ingredients:
½ cup Barley Malt
¾ cup Maple Syrup
1 cup organic currants or raisins
1 cup organic peanut butter
5 cups Crispy Brown Rice

Preparation:
Mix Barley Malt, Maple Syrup and Peanut Butter in a stainless steel pot.
Turn on flame and begin heating on a low flame.  Add the fruits and continue to mix.
When you begin to see bubbles around the edge of the pot, turn off the flame and add the rice crispies.  
Mix well to blend all of the ingredients.
Place on an oiled tray to cool a bit.
Roll into balls and serve.

Variations: Substitute Almond butter or tahini for the peanut butter. When using tahini add a little add a little more rice crispies in order to maintain a good consistency.
Add grain-sweetened chocolate chips in place of raisins for a richer taste.

For the ultimate chocolate lovers treat:
Melt unsweetened organic dark/vegan chocolate. 
Add 2 tablespoons of brown rice syrup
1 tablespoons of barley malt
1 – 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
If this is not sweet enough for you, just add a little extra, remember the kids need to like it too!
Mix well and allow the now, grain sweetened chocolate to cool a bit.
Drizzle or roll the crispy balls in the chocolate.
Place the chocolate coated treats in the fridge until the chocolate cools.

Makes about 60 bite size treats.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Recipes

Ben Franklin was Macrobiotic

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Ben Franklin is one of my heroes because of his practical, creative genius and his connection to Philadelphia. While rereading his autobiography recently it occurred to me that he was not only one of our founding fathers but also a father of macrobiotics. Ben Franklin is a role model for macrobiotic practice.

He became a vegetarian at 16 and tried to share this practice with his friends. He also had a grain-based diet with regular eating habits and lifestyle practices. It is very reminiscent of my 7 Steps, which I refer to as the pillars of macrobiotic practice. I think of the 7 Steps as a regular and orderly approach to diet and lifestyle. This is completely in line with Ben Franklin.

Ben Franklin was closely tied to nature through gardening and seed exchange and the range of his social activities is legendary. We now enjoy so many of the institutions and inventions he created including hospitals, libraries, fire department, etc.

It deeply saddens me that we have moved so far away from the nature and values of Ben Franklin. It is one of my goals to show that the roots of macrobiotics are shared by all of the world’s longstanding cultures. They are common to all of us. What better place to start than Ben Franklin. There is no better time to start re-establishing these connections than now.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Uncategorized

Every Cancer Has a Silver Lining

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I thought that everyone would be interested in this New York Times piece about Kris Carr and the rebuttal that Jeff Silberman wrote.

“Every Cancer Has a Silver Lining”

I was interested to read Mireille Silcoff’s article on Kris Carr in the New York Times magazine (8/14/11) as my wife had recently cured herself of breast cancer through her macrobiotic practice (medically documented) in roughly six months while being counseled by Denny Waxman, one of the foremost authorities on Macrobiotics, who has been counseling people to health for almost 40 years based upon a science that is almost 3,000 years old.

So I found it curious when Ms. Carr said that she “flirted” with Macrobiotics for a year, which by anybody’s standard is a long time to flirt (many people consummate and end relationships in that period of time), and to use the term “freakier” in the same sentence seemed both disingenuous and disrespectful. Rather than giving kudos to an ancient science and those dedicated practitioners who were happy to share this knowledge with her, she invents a “freaky” drink (almond butter, cucumber, romaine, kale, ginger and two pears?) or two as the cherry on top of a macrobiotic pie and sells the whole thing as her own invention.

Ms. Carr didn’t invent a plan from which to deal with her cancer all on her own. She enrolled in a year long program with Denny and Susan Waxman at their Strengthening Health Institute in Philadelphia. Before that she met with the Godfather of Macrobiotics, Michio Kushi, in Boston. She received macrobiotic counseling from Warren Kramer, ate macrobiotic food prepared by Kezia Snyder in New York City for 6 months (often the period of time it takes for the macrobiotic diet to rid the body of disease) and she was treated by Shiatsu practitioners Patrick Riley and David Sergel.

Ms. Carr interviewed and filmed Mr. Waxman on several occasions for her movie,”Crazy, Sexy Cancer”, but did not include any of his segments when he refused to sign a waiver which would prohibit him from any input on how his segments were edited.

While Ms. Carr is selling (very well I might add) her “sexy” cancer, she is doing so on the backs of those dedicated people who shared with her their time, skills, knowledge, wisdom and compassion and who brought her back from the abyss. She should know that gratitude and appreciation are also basic tenants of health and healing.

Namaste,

Jeff Silberman
Philadelphia PA

1 Comment | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Cancer, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Macrobiotics and Medicine