Great Frustrations

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In my macrobiotic counseling practice, I often say to my clients, “if people say it is good, I say it is bad.” It is my automatic response to hearing someone praise the health virtues of a certain food. I know this sounds completely arrogant or at the very least contrary. To me it is an expression of a deep frustration. It is a frustration that has been growing within me for many years.

So many of my clients come to me saying that they have been eating a healthy diet, yet they are here to see me for a life-threatening problem. I find a huge contradiction there. My experience is that a healthy diet leads to lasting health. My approach to health is simple; good food, good activity, and a good attitude. Food is the starting place that has the most power over our health.

Recently I read an article in the Atlantic about teens wanting to lose weight and not knowing how. The conclusion of their research was that the actions of obese teens do not reflect their desire to lose weight. Now, this is where my frustration grows again. I find it hard to believe that most obese teens do not want to lose weight. Rather, I think that they have a frustration that prevents them from losing weight. Their frustration is that what they are told does not work. As a result, they get frustrated and give up trying to lose weight.

Why is it that common beliefs about weight loss do not work?

First of all, the calorie theory does not work. Eating fewer calories and working out more do not lead to sustained weight loss. The secret to sustained weight loss is simple: if you have a healthy, balanced way of eating and natural activity, you will feel satisfied. When we are satisfied with our diet and activity we never need to think about our weight. Healthy weight is the natural outcome of a balance in diet and activity. Weigh loss systems are doomed to failure if they are based on restriction. Inevitably, frustration and restriction lead to excess weight. This is not an idle theory. I have helped many hundreds of people lose weight effortlessly with these basic principles.

The modern diet causes a deep biological frustration that cannot be satisfied. It does not satisfy our basic nutritional needs. Exercise and eating less do not solve the problem. This can be seen all around us. If we teach children the basics of a healthy way of eating through the enjoyment of unprocessed whole foods and daily activity they will automatically achieve a sense of satisfaction which leads to healthy weight. The simple steps outlined in my book, The Great Life Diet, lead to sustained weight loss naturally without feeling deprived. You will learn how to be satisfied with your diet and activity and lose weight naturally. It is a great way to start the new year.

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

Getting the Most Out of Your Sleep

Posted on by Denny Waxman

When I was reading the New York Times the other day I came across this question and I have a slightly different opinion than the printed response. We eat and drink during the day for activity. At night we utilize the foods we consumed during the day to maintain and rebuild our bodies. While we are sleeping our bodies are cleaning, maintaining and repairing themselves and gathering physical and energetic excess to be eliminated in the morning when we rise. Most people have their morning routine which usually consists of going to the bathroom, washing, brushing our teeth, doing a body rub and stretching. All of these practices help eliminate the excess we gathered during the night.

Our organs, brain and nervous system also recharge at night during sleep. Our need for sleep is determined by how efficiently our bodies can clean, repair, recharge and eliminate. The length of our sleep also determines how refreshed we feel from our sleep. We get the deepest and most refreshing sleep between midnight and 4 am. Going to sleep before midnight is important so that we can be in a deep sleep during these hours. It is hard to feel refreshed the next day when we go to sleep after midnight.

A healthy person generally needs between five and eight hours of sleep per night. Stimulants like coffee or alcohol as well as eating before sleep can increase our need for sleep. Through adjusting our daily habits, diet and activity we can get the deepest, most refreshing sleep in the shortest amount of time.

No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Mental Health

Regulating Thyroid Issues Naturally

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A recent article in the New York Times discusses a link between psychiatric troubles and imbalances in thyroid hormones. Quite often subtle imbalances in thyroid hormones can create depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems.

From a macrobiotic or energetic point of view, the thyroid is the balancing point between the pituitary and adrenal glands or, you could say, mind and body. The pituitary gland at the base of the brain is the major endocrine gland that regulates all others. The adrenal glands, just above the kidneys, help regulate vitality, metabolism, and help us deal with stress. The thyroid shows an overall balance between mind and body. Problems in the throat region can also be related to difficulty in expressing ourselves or in accepting situations.

Many of my clients express how much more positive, energetic and calm they feel, even after one visit. When we add balance into our diet, activity and lifestyle practices, our hormonal system including these major glands naturally rebalance themselves. The adrenals like beans and root vegetables and the thyroid likes leafy greens and the natural sweetness of vegetables such as onions, carrots and squash. Walking outside also helps all upper body problems.

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

Good Parenting Before Birth

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune five threats to a healthy pregnancy were listed:
poor nutrition in the womb, air pollution, Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many plastic bottles and the lining of soda and soup cans, depression and viruses. Out of this list we have the most control over our diets. A healthy diet also has the greatest ability to nourish and give protection to the developing fetus from environmental pollutants.

We recently completed a weekend in our year-long course at the Strengthening Health Institute where we discussed embryonic education. This has been a traditional understanding in the orient that has been passed down over the generations.

Embryonic education, which takes place before we are even born, is actually the most important education in our life. It sets our tendencies for health or sickness as well as our tastes in food, music and physical activity. This is consistent with the view of the fetal origins theory, which has been studied in recent years, where diet during pregnancy and infancy sets the future pattern for physical and mental health or illness. There are three main areas of this education: diet, activity and mental-spiritual practices. The dietary recommendations are based on grains and vegetables and include foods that are nourishing, strengthening and protective to the developing fetus. These include brown rice and other whole grains such as barley and millet, a variety of hard, fibrous vegetables, naturally pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut, beans especially azuki and lentils, miso soup and a variety of other foods.

Walking, cleaning and other daily, life-related activities are also important for the developing baby. Pregnancy is natural to life and activity and hard work are important to have a strong baby.

In a world filled with violence it is important to try and read or watch movies and TV shows that are peaceful and inspiring and to avoid shows and books that are violent, negative and overly sexually stimulating.

In my personal counseling practice I have guided many women through pregnancy. Many women who have followed these guidelines have expressed how happy they were that they discovered this understanding in time.

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

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

Sleeping Throughout the Night- Without Sleeping Pills!

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In Oriental medicine and diagnosis opposites show and regulate each other. The night or sleep is a reflection of the quality our diet and activity during the day. Our ability to experience deep and refreshing sleep is an important condition of good health.

A recent article published in the New York Times stated that an increasing number of women are turning to medications to help them sleep. This approach tends to take its toll on our health over time. There are healthier and more natural ways to have a good nights sleep than taking medications. A good diet and eating habits together with a balance of physical and mental activity leads to deep and nourishing sleep.

There are three main types of sleep problems. The first is difficulty falling asleep, especially before midnight. This is usually caused by drinking excess liquids or eating too many watery foods or sweets. The second type where you can fall asleep and then wake after midnight is the opposite. It is caused by eating too many animal foods, well cooked and hard-baked or dry foods.
Finally, there is a third type where you wake around 4 or 5 am. This is a combination of the first two types.

In “The Great Life Diet” I discuss the essentials of creating a healthy diet, eating habits and activity. These practices will help you get the deep and refreshing sleep we all desire.

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

How to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Exercise or should I say activity is important for our health. In recent years activity and structured exercise have become confused. We are meant to be active physically and mentally throughout the day. This is what we did before we spent so much time in front of computers and the TV. It was also before we had the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and cancer. Our diet and eating habits have also changed dramatically in recent years. Fast foods have taken the place of real cooked foods and home cooked meals.

We can think of activity as a pump that circulates the energy that is derived from the food we eat. A recent article published on MSNBC stated that, sitting down for long periods may be increasing your cancer risk. This makes perfect sense when you think about it. Doesn’t it make even more sense that eating a healthier diet along with increased activity and less sitting would further reduce our cancer risk.

At the Strengthening Health Institute we recommend a diet centered around whole grains and vegetables that includes a variety of soups, beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, salads, good quality sweets, desserts and fish if desired. We also recommend making your daily life active and including a 30 minute walk outside everyday.

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Exercise, Macrobiotic Philosophy

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

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