Eating Day and Night

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just finished reading a blog about many people needing to eat at night. I wanted to express my thoughts to help create more of an understanding to help people overcome this growing problem. There is a natural order between day and night. Under normal circumstances we eat and are physically active during the day. At night we settle down and while we sleep we use the food we ate during the day to clean, maintain and repair our bodies. After rising in the morning, we eliminate the physical and energetic excess gathered during the night through our morning routine of stretching, washing, urination and bowel movement, etc. Then, we are fully ready for the day.

We can have the best activity during the day while the sun is up and the deepest and most refreshing sleep during the night when the stars are out. Our digestive system is not on-call 24 hours a day as we would like. It is only fully ready to receive nourishment at certain times. These times have come to be know as meal times, breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we eat at regular meal times our digestion is quick and efficient. For example, if you start eating your dinner at 5 pm you digest your meal very quickly. The same meal takes a little longer to digest if eaten at 6 or 7 pm. If we start dinner at 8 or 9 pm it takes even longer to digest. When we eat in between meals as in brunch, it has the opposite effect and actually stagnates our digestion. The purpose of brunch is to be able to lounge around all day and accomplish very little. When we get up early and have a simple breakfast we are ready to be active and accomplish something. It is not very easy to lounge around.

This concept may make more sense when we look at it from the sleep perspective. If you sleep for six hours from midnight until 6 am, you can accomplish a lot even if you may want a little more sleep. However, if you sleep six hours from 3 am to 9 am you do not get the same restful and replenishing sleep. You wake up feeling groggy and do not feel motivated to accomplish much. The time you sleep determines the quality of your sleep in the same way the time you start you meals determines how well you digest and feel satisfied from your food.

Our blood sugar follows the sun’s movement. After noon, our blood sugar starts to gradually fall so that we can settle down in the evening and go to sleep before midnight. After midnight our blood sugar stars to gradually rise so that we can get up quickly and easily in the early morning. Eating our meals at the proper times helps to regulate and stabilize our blood sugar. Lunch is the controlling factor. It is important to start eating you lunch no later than 1 pm to stabilize your blood sugar.

When we eat grain, bean and vegetable based meals at the recommended times, we do not want to eat before bed or at night when we should be sleeping. When we eat two or three satisfying meals at the proper times we do not desire to eat after dinner because this late night eating makes us feel worse and not better. When we eat chaotically or eat unhealthy foods at the wrong times our blood sugar looses it’s natural balance. If our blood sugar is too low or too high, we cannot fall asleep easily. If our blood sugar is too low when we are sleeping, we need to wake up and eat to raise our blood sugar enough to sleep.

These ideas are tried and true and are based on my approach to macrobiotics. One of the most common comments I hear from my clients is how well they have been sleeping and how easily they get up in the morning after implementing my recommendations.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics

Ending Breast Cancer

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just finished reading a blog that was very hard for me to read for so many reasons. It is beyond my belief how many woman suffer from breast cancer with no end in sight. The fact that this situation, despite all of the time and money spent and lives lost, has not improved in 25 years, defies all reason and common sense. My frustration is hard to contain that so few laypeople and medical people alike are willing to look at recent recent research and discoveries that align with our common sense and can reverse this debilitating crisis.

T. Collin Campbell in his groundbreaking book, The China Study, presents his research and discoveries in a clear, readable and concise manner. His research documents every word I say in my book, The Great Life Diet. My book is the practical handbook for applying and implementing Dr. Campbell’s research in your daily life.

According to Dr. Campbell, the consumption of animal and dairy protein are the main cause of our epidemic of degenerative diseases including cancer. His research is compelling. When the combination of animal and dairy protein reaches 10 per cent or more of our diet, cancer genes are turned on. When we decrease the consumption of these foods below 10 percent, these same markers are turned off. Casein, or dairy protein present in cheese, milk and their products is the most harmful. In other words, diet can cause or reverse cancer, all types of cancer, not just breast cancer. The main cause of our epidemic of degenerative diseases is on our dinner plates and most of us just simply choose to ignore this fact. The dietary causes of breast cancer are also within our ability to control.

Health is natural. It is not the result of science or medicine. Health is the natural result of a healthy diet, activity and attitude. A healthy diet is plant based together with good eating habits. Healthy activity means a variety enjoyable and challenging activities. It includes all life related activities, such as walking or carrying things, especially outdoor activities. A healthy attitude is open, curious and full of gratitude.

From the macrobiotic viewpoint, cancer is caused by a chronic imbalance in our diet and activity. Our attitudes and even our view of life affect our daily choices. It is the combination of these factors that can change our direction towards health or sickness. I have used this multifaceted approach of diet, activity and attitude, with my clients over many years with great success.

I think it is time to take a new and open approach to our ever increasing number of health problems. It is time to do the things on a daily basis whether our choice is to include modern medicine or not. A healthier diet and activity together with an open, flexible and appreciative mind will support all areas of our health and life.

No Comments | Tags: Cancer, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics

Body, Mind and Spirit

Posted on by Denny Waxman

It seems common sense to me that food nourishes us on many levels including our mind, and that a healthy body and mind are the prerequisites for developing a strong and effective educational system. There has been a lot in the media recently about how Americans are comparing unfavorably with many other nations in both health and education. There has been a steady decline over the years in these areas. The decline seems to reflect our poor diets and lack of natural outdoor activity. We hear about and can even see the alarming rates of overweight, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. I find our decline painful to watch in so many ways.

Food is energy or spirit. When we eat physical food it breaks down to liquid and then energy. Most of the food we eat goes to nourish our energy on physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual levels, rather than maintenance and repair of our bodies. If this does not make sense to you, try meditating after eating a meal of brown rice, miso soup and sautéed vegetables. Then try the same meditation the next day after eating fried chicken or pizza and a soda. Doesn’t it seem that there would be a difference in these two meditations. Would you even want to or be able to meditate after the fried chicken or pizza meals?

I was a terrible student growing up. I had no interest in school other than recess. I was also a total junk food eater with a steadily declining diet. It was only after I discovered macrobiotics and started to eat a primarily grain, bean and vegetable based diet that I wanted to sit down and read books. As time went on I wanted to know about and study everything! I became a wonderful, self-motivated student on my own. When my body was open to real nourishment, so was my mind. My children are all interested in education, the children of my friends and clients are as well. The common point is healthy foods create a healthy body and mind. Health craves health on every level, diet, activity and education.

The combination of a healthy diet and healthy activity helps us to develop a strong nervous system and a powerful memory that enables us to understand and figure things out. Healthy food gives us this kind of mental clarity. This sounds like a bold statement, however, it is based on my observation of myself, friends and clients over many years. A plant based diet helps us create connections. It naturally encourages us to connect with each other, nature, the environment and most importantly our life dreams.

It is time to realize the connections between body, mind, spirit, society, nature and environment and that the solutions my be right in front of us, on our dinner plates.

No Comments | Tags: Cancer, Diabetes, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics, Uncategorized

Seaweed For Your Health and Enjoyment

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Vegetables are largely forgotten in our modern diet. I always find it interesting that when I come to the check-out counter with my basket of organic vegetables, I usually have to tell the cashier what the vegetables are. I assume that people working in health food stores are more enlightened than the average person when it comes to fruits and vegetables. I often wonder how many vegetables the average person on the street could identify let alone how many they have eaten in the previous year. Eating a variety of vegetables on a daily basis is strange or foreign to many people.

I do not find it surprising that seaweed or sea vegetables seem even stranger and more foreign than vegetables produced on the land. Seaweed in usually associated with macrobiotics and Japanese or Asian diets. It is one of the foods that makes macrobiotics seem Japan-centric. Seaweed has a long history as both a food and agricultural fertilizer. It has been used for many thousands of years in all island countries and coastal regions of the world. Like salt, various groups of people have also pilgrimaged for seaweed. Both nutrients originally come from the sea and are important for maintaining a healthy, mildly alkaline condition in our blood.

Seaweed is one of the foods that everyone grows to love. When I tell that to people they often look at me in disbelief. I have seen so many of my clients and students that could not stand the taste or smell of seaweed in the beginning, later tell me how much they craved and looked forward to eating it. My experience is that taste is biological even more than it is cultural. As our health improves our taste changes. Healthy people enjoy and are satisfied by healthy foods.

Seaweed has numerous health and nutritional benefits. It is an importance source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iodine, calcium, magnesium and iron. Seaweed is a filter in the sea and also helps to filter and detoxify our blood. It regulates fat metabolism and can help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Sea vegetables have also shown to block or reduce tumor formation. Seaweed is also important for hormonal and reproductive health. They also have the ability to encapsulate heavy metals, render them inert and eliminate them from our body. Seaweed has also shown to replace radioactive elements in our body including radioactive iodine in our thyroid and strontium 90 in our bones. Like salt, too much seaweed is not beneficial. It is best to use sea vegetables in small quantities, on a regular basis.

The following is a list of seaweeds you may like to include in your diet.

Toasted Nori is ideal for nori rolls and crumpled in soups, fried rice and noodles. It is refreshing, good for our blood and helps children grow. Your dogs and cats will love it too! Try adding 2 to 3 sheets a week into your diet.

Wakame is great in miso soups and salads or can be sautéed with vegetables. Use a 1 to 2 inch piece a few or several times a week. Soak until it expands before using it in your dishes. Miso soup with Wakame seaweed and leafy greens is a wonderful source of calcium. It is also important for reproductive, digestive and circulatory systems.

Arame makes a tasty side dish and is usually cooked with onions, carrots to bring out its sweet and rich taste. It can be used 2 to 3 times a week. Arame is thought to block tumor formation and aid in digestive health.

Kombu can be cooked with beans to make them more tender and digestible. It adds a wonderful flavor to soups and vegetable dishes. it is important to use Kombu in small pieces, around the size of a postage stamp or two.

Dulse is good in salads and sandwiches. It adds a salty, zesty taste and is a good source of iron.

Experiment and enjoy. You can find recipes in macrobiotic cook books, online or in seminars at the Strengthening Health Institute.

1 Comment | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotic Counseling, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotics, Recipes

Thoughts on Japanese Foods

Posted on by Denny Waxman

As part of the macrobiotic way of life, we have enjoyed a rich cultural, philosophical and spiritual heritage from Japan. This heritage has guided many aspects of our life from our approach to cooking and eating to our overall view of life. Some aspects of this way of life, from futons to tofu and miso soup, have become mainstream. Many of the ingredients we use such as miso, shoyu and umeboshi enable a moderate to good cook to produce outstanding meals.

We also have the challenge of developing a local practice of macrobiotics by reconnecting with our local foods and traditions. I think that many people within macrobiotics have been moving towards a more local practice over the years. At the same time, local food processing and seaweed harvesting have been increasing and great strides have been made in quality and taste. This is a natural progression that is necessary for us to grow and develop our capabilities more fully. It is also necessary if we want to align with the basic premise of macrobiotics that we are one with our environment.

In my experience, some of the foods produced in Japan still have a greater healing ability than the ones we produce here. I am confident that over time that will change. Many years ago, a long-time Japanese friend told me that America has already conquered Japan in terms of tofu. He thought that American made tofu was the best. What he said rang true for me. However, we can adjust the quality of tofu day by day. Miso, shoyu and umeboshi are a different story. It takes months or years to adjust them. The time it will take to perfect these products is much longer than for tofu. After all, these foods have been perfected over hundreds or even thousands of years in the Orient.

I find the contrast between the delicacy in taste and nourishing and strengthening qualities of many of the foods from Japan amazing. It is ironic that these same foods also give us the greatest protection from radiation and other environmental pollutants. These foods, including brown rice, Azuki beans, miso, umeboshi, seaweed and kukicha tea are truly unique and amazing in terms of taste, nourishment and health benefits.

I have always understood macrobiotics as a process of redefining and reinterpreting traditional practices to see if they are appropriate and beneficial for the future. This approach gives us the ability to take what is best from the past and develop it further for the present and future. It has been my long-time dream to preserve traditional food processing from both east and west. It would be wonderful to have some of these people in Japan, who have become masters of their craft, guide us in the production of these traditional foods on our own soil. I think that this collaboration and cooperation could lead to even more unique foods over time.

Because of a lack of accurate reporting from the media on both sides of the ocean, we do not really know the degree of pollution in our foods, land or water. I think it would be a big mistake to over-react and avoid foods coming from Japan completely. It is possible that we could be going from bad to worse by doing that. I have come to rely on certain people for high quality and safe foods in the same way that people rely on me to guide their health and that of their families. I am also trying to share this information openly so that we can all make informed choices.

I am not endorsing any one person or company. I am trying to keep an open mind and I will continue to study and research this situation. After regular conversations with my brother Howard Waxman of Essene,we have decided to continue to use both Japanese and local products. I have also been in contact with Michael Potter of Eden Foods. Please read the wonderful NY Times article about him and review the link to the Eden website for further information about Japanese food safety.

We know from this wonderful philosophy we have inherited that all challenges are opportunities. It is my hope that people with understanding and integrity will join together to maneuver through these difficult times. I firmly believe that an open and informed dialogue is the best approach to guide us into the future.

2 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics

Holy Cow, Calcium From the Source!

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I just finished reading the NY Times blog on the dangers of taking calcium supplements. This was very predictable because so many things recommended as being healthy or necessary by the medical profession end up causing more harm than good. It turns out that taking calcium supplements can increase your risk of having a heart attack. What will also most likely come out in the future is that calcium from supplements causes brittle bones that break easily. Strong, flexible bones, come from plant sources of calcium. What I found most disappointing about the blog is that there no healthy sources of calcium were recommended. Dairy foods and mineral waters are not healthy sources of calcium.

Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the earth’s crust. Plants take minerals from the earth as their food. Cows accumulate great amounts of calcium in their milk through eating grass. Doctors and registered dietician’s tell us to drink cow’s milk and eat cheese in order to get calcium. This is second hand calcium and does not produce strong and healthy bones. Dairy foods also contribute to many of our modern health problems.

I find it interesting that people who have the highest calcium consumption from dairy products, also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. On the other hand, people who get their calcium from plant sources do not develop these problems. I have counseled many people throughout the years on how to remineralize their bones. Many of my clients have been frail, elderly women. Some of these women have had serious falls and have not broken bones. In every case, these women were shocked that they did not break bones from their falls. In situations where they did break bones, the fractures usually healed in about half the expected times. This also was completely predictable because plant sources of calcium build the strongest bones.

Now I would like to make you an expert on building strong bones. There are four main plant sources of calcium: green leafy vegetables; beans, especially white beans; toasted sesame seeds and miso soup. Eat a variety of leafy greens on a daily basis, including, kale, collards, bok choy and others. Eat a serving of beans often or daily. Use toasted sesame seeds as a condiment on your foods. Make miso soup with wakame seaweed and leafy greens and consume it often. To absorb the calcium and other minerals from these sources you need to use some vegetable oil in your cooking. A few or several times a week use sesame or olive oil in cooking your greens and beans. You can also cook greens and beans together sometimes. You do not need to go overboard on any of these these things. Good nutrition is natural. Just try to vary your diet with these healthy foods.

Natural exercise is also important. To make sure the calcium gets into your bones, walk outside on a daily basis to get fresh air and sunshine. Take the stairs when possible and get a variety of other life-related exercises. You will find that these recommendations benefit other areas of your life physically and mentally.

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

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

Three Square Meals a Day

Posted on by Denny Waxman

The family meal has played an important role in the history of all cultures. A recent article published in the Daily Mail suggests that the family meal is disappearing. Our busy lifestyles are compromising this long-standing tradition. Snacks, alcohol, and microwaveable foods are replacing cooked and shared meals.

I define a meal as a cooked grain and a separate vegetable dish. This is the minimum requirement of components to get complete, balanced nutrition and to feel satisfied. The centerpiece of any meal should be a cooked grain, such as brown rice, pasta, or polenta. Granola, muesli, popped corn or other dried grains, such as rice cakes, do not count as part of the grain component for meals. The meal is then completed by any type of prepared vegetable dish, like a stew or a salad. Brown rice and steamed kale or pasta and salad are excellent examples of complete and balanced meals.

Meals serve a valuable function in our life. Eating at regular times without skipping meals regulates all of our body’s functions including digestion, elimination, blood sugar, appetite, and moods. The time at which we begin our meal regulates our metabolism and our ability to digest, process, and eliminate the unused portions of our food. Eating at the proper times makes our metabolism healthy and active. Skipping meals stagnates our metabolism and contributes to excess weight gain and blood sugar problems. Try to make lunch your most regular meal. By starting your lunch before 1 pm you will help to stabilize your blood sugar and metabolism.

I think of meals as the glue of society. Meals bring stability to the family and build communication and a sense of belonging. Even though my mother passed away many years ago, I still have fond and powerful memories of our family meals, especially at holidays. Now my own children look forward to these family gatherings, even after they have grown and moved on to develop their own lives. I even observe my three year-old grandson already walking in the door, anxiously awaiting a family meal. Meals also connect us with the past. They preserve our traditions and unite us as a family. Meals brings a richness into our lives that cannot be replaced. The rewards of emotional and spiritual nourishment and enrichment are well spent.

No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotics

Health is Natural

Posted on by Denny Waxman

When I first started to explore macrobiotics, I discovered George Ohsawa’s “7 Conditions of Health.” These conditions of health were a revelation to me. George Ohsawa divided health into three main areas: physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual. He assigned the most importance to spiritual health and the least importance to physical health. From the macrobiotic view, health is primarily a spiritual rather than physical or mental quality and capacity. Ohsawa taught that spiritual health and endless appreciation for all of life guide mental and physical health. According to Ohsawa, health is something that we can learn to grow and improve throughout our life. Contrary to what we are taught in modern life, health is not something that we inevitably lose over the years. Sickness is not the necessary eventuality that we must prepare for all of our life.

In thinking about health, it became apparent to me that health is more natural than sickness. In most cases, we spend years spoiling our health and losing touch with our needs in various areas of life. We usually lose our health little by little. We often do not even notice the gradual decline of our health until it becomes significant and interferes with our life. On the other hand, we can make amazingly fast progress once we decide to start improving our health. I am always amazed at how much improvement my clients experience in one or two weeks after starting to implement my counseling recommendations. I am also amazed at how much progress people make in five days of attending our Intensive seminars the Strengthening Health Institute. You can actually see people transform day by day when they are exposed to good food, good activity, and a good environment.

The quality of our food has steadily declined since the end of World War II. Food science has taken over and transformed food into a long list of chemicals and preservatives. While it is hard to understand what these chemicals are made of, it is not hard to understand that they are detrimental to our health and well-being. During this same period of time, we have gotten increasingly less outdoor physical activity. Walking outdoors on a regular basis has virtually disappeared from modern life.

I am continually amazed by the marvels of the human body, with its quick responses to positive changes in diet, activity, and lifestyle. Even making small changes yields positive results in a short period of time. When it comes down to it, good diet, good activity, and a good attitude all lead to long-lasting good health. Really, all you need to do is get to the right starting line and then let nature run its course.

No Comments | Tags: 7 Steps, Adjusting Your Diet, Macrobiotics

Thoughts on Eating Breakfast

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I had a dilemma. I wanted to start eating breakfast but I was addicted to coffee shops as well as coffee. I looked forward to starting the day outside my home to read and work on ideas before starting my day officially. It was starting to become apparent that I would have to give up my coffee shop addiction to start eating breakfast at home. In my previous blog I wrote about my relationship to coffee.

Recently I re-read Ben Franklin’s autobiography and was impressed on many levels. It is clear that Ben Franklin was a creative and practical genius in just about all areas of life. It was also clear from reading his autobiography that he was actually practicing macrobiotics. He had an orderly lifestyle and eating habits. He was a vegetarian from the age of 16 and he ate grains. He constantly worked on self-development and self-improvement. He had the spirit and practice of a real macrobiotic person.

One of Ben Franklin’s sayings that caught my attention was his sage advice to eat breakfast and lunch, but to eat little to no dinner. This caught my attention because, for many years, I had little to no breakfast, other than coffee. I adopted this practice because my teacher, Michio Kushi, didn’t eat breakfast. Upon reading Franklin’s saying, I realized that eating breakfast has a grounding effect on us and balances creativity. I knew then that I needed to break my coffee shop habit and start eating breakfast.

For many years I have recommended that people have regular meals at specific times. You can find the details in my book, The Great Life Diet. I have observed that eating and rising at earlier times makes us more practical and physically active. Blue collar workers eat earlier than white collar workers. Time has shown that an earlier schedule makes workers more productive. Now it has also become apparent that which meals we eat also have a profound effect on us.

I started my macrobiotic journey with a balance of practicality and creativity. It seems that my practicality has declined in favor of creativity over the years. Now that I have passed my 60th birthday it it time for the pendulum to swing back towards practicality. I am hoping that you will be able to observe my progress from my newly found breakfast habit.

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