It’s becoming apparent that macrobiotics is the healthiest approach to diet and lifestyle. I’ve spent the past 43 years developing and refining the best possible ways to achieve the maximum benefits from this way of eating and living. A student of mine once said that no one can dispute that the practice of yoga is more than just a physical practice around movement and stretching. Yoga is based around a core of spiritual beliefs that guide the practice. The same can be said about macrobiotics. The development and cultivation of a deep sense of appreciation for food and all of life guides and completes the practice. In a practical sense, we emphasize an orderly and structured approach to eating and living.
The most important aspect of these practices grows from a desire to be healthy. The approach that we take helps people rediscover their natural appetite that leads to lasting health. We stress eating habits as much as food choices so we can experience deeper satisfaction from our meals and greater enjoyment of our food. I’ve compiled this list of things to keep in mind to move you in the direction of health. Use this guide as a primer for planning anything from meals, to menus, to outlining goals for transforming your lifestyle practices.
—good eating habits lead to healthier food choices and greater satisfaction
—orderliness and regularity with our eating habits leads to an increase in openness and variety
—balance perpetuates itself
—our sense of balance comes from aligning with nature’s orderly cycles
—indigenous and local foods create the strongest connection to the environment
—format meals around grains, beans, vegetables, and local, seasonal fruits at home or away
—have vegetable soup with one meal every day
—emphasize life-related activities (such as walking outside, cleaning, or taking the stairs)
—surround yourself with green plants in rooms where you spend time
—create a strong and nurturing support network
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The portrait of health has been painted over and over again. People say that in order to look like the portrait that’s painted, you need to follow sets of procedures in order to be healthy and happy. You are probably familiar with those procedures: Eat well in this way, exercise in this way.
Achieving health shouldn’t seem full of obstacles. As we draw near to the holidays, here are five gentle, joyous reminders of health and encouragement for spreading the spirit of joy and health into and through the New Year.
Spiritual Health Guides Mental, Emotional and Physical Health.
Spiritual health, the cultivation of endless appreciation for all of life, leads to mental, emotional, and physical health. When we are positive, open and curious for everything around us, our vitality shines. Health starts with a spiritual revolution that leads to changes in our daily habits and attitudes. Physical training alone does not lead to mental, emotional, or spiritual development and refinement. So the process does not work in reverse.
Self-love and Self-care are of prime importance. The more you do and care for yourself, the more it spreads to others.
Care in our dietary choices and daily habits helps build a healthy community where we live. As we take care of ourselves, there is no separation from taking care of others at the same time. It can largely be said that our current mindset is one of self-interest that overlooks the needs of others in order to get what we want. This also has broader, global implications for the health of the planet, the just treatment of all others, and our relationship to our communities. If we are caring for ourselves with spiritual health in our minds and hearts, the opposite begins to happen; we form healthier communities, we strengthen bonds, we nurture the environment and people in ways we may not even see.
Health is natural.
When nature is left alone to flourish and grow in its regular state, we see the abundance, diversity and beauty that results. This is a reflection of our natural state as well. Think of a healthy baby which is “unspoiled” or in a natural human state. We can’t help but be drawn to these children and share with them this joy as we remember and invoke our own natural states.
Consequently, it’s obvious to notice that health is more natural than sickness. It takes about 10% to 15% of the time to return to health as it did to become sick. Even if we have spent a lifetime abusing our body and getting sick, our health starts to return quickly from dietary and lifestyle adjustments.
Health is a direction not a fixed state.
Health is not a static condition. It develops though our daily habits. Sickness is the same. The combination of a good diet and eating habits, activity and lifestyle practices over time move us towards health. We all have the ability to improve our health on all levels day by day through these lifestyle choices. And since it is a direction, no matter where we are towards health or sickness, we always have the opportunity to move towards health, no matter the circumstances.
To create these changes, two things must happen.
We need more healthy friends. These changes become useful and habitual the more we share and practice them. Surrounding yourself around more people enjoying a healthy lifestyle is key. Change will only come when you use your voice and express yourself about what you are doing, experiencing and enjoying.
Remember that health craves health in every sense. This holiday, share your health with as many people as you can. Celebrate!
I just finished reading this blog on metabolism and it brought a number of things to mind for me. I have heard many people’s stories about exercising on a regular basis and loosing little to no weight. I have also heard stories about personal trainers who could not loose the bulge in their mid-section. There seems to be a contradiction here or maybe something is missing. In most cases, exercise alone is not enough to regulate our weight or trim our waist lines. If this is due to our sluggish metabolism then how can we remedy the situation and maintain a healthy weight?
Having a problem with our weight is a symptom of an imbalance in our diet and activity. Carrying excess weight is not the problem, it is the symptom of an overall imbalance. We have created this imbalance because of a lack of understanding about the relationship between diet, eating habits and activity in our life. This is why attempts to loose weight do not work in most cases. Weight loss techniques or methods are temporary at best for most people.
A healthy metabolism, our ability to digest foods, absorb their nutrition and eliminate the excess efficiently, is the key to maintaing a healthy weight. Diet is the missing link. Our metabolism is regulated by the two factors, the time we start our meals and what we eat. In addition to a healthy diet and eating habits, exercise helps as long as it does not make us overeat or crave more rich foods and sweets. The wrong exercise or pushing to hard can backfire and actually make us gain weight. I like to encourage a variety in daily activities before implementing a structured exercise program.
Through my macrobiotic counseling practice, I have helped many hundreds of people loose weigh and keep it off with these simple health practices. Finding a healthy, satisfying way of eating is the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. I would like to make a few suggestions that can help you solve your weight problems once and for all.
Plan your meals around cooked whole grains and vegetable dishes.
Eat a serving of steamed greens daily.
Sit down to eat your meals or snacks without working, TV or reading.
Start eating your breakfast by 9 am at the latest.
Stop eating 3 hours before going to bed.
Walk outside for at least 30 minutes a day.
I am reading “Diet For The Atomic Age” by Sara Shannon. It is not a pleasant read in some ways, though it is very important and timely. It is interesting that it was published in 1987 and has an even more important message today. Sara lists a number of foods and categories of foods that are protective against low-level radiation. We are all exposed to low-level radiation every day through leaking or damaged nuclear plants, bomb testing in the past, airport body scanners, medical diagnosis and treatments. The effects of low level radiation are cumulative and are a concern to everyone, especially pregnant women, the young and those with weakened immune systems.
This list of foods that Sara Shannon recommends are very familiar to me; whole grains, vegetables especially cruciferous, beans, miso, tofu and tempeh, sea vegetables, seeds and nuts. These all happen to be staples of the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle that macrobiotic practitioners have been eating for many years. Many of the foods that are associated with macrobiotic practice are also the most protective against radiation. For example, short or medium grain brown rice, Azuki beans, green and black lentils, well aged barley or Hatcho soybean miso, umeboshi plums, sauerkraut and Kukicha, Bancha Twig Tea, to name a few.
Macrobiotic teachers and practitioners have been recommending an organic, local and seasonal plant based diet for more than fifty years. We also recognize the importance of respecting and preserving traditions and our environment. As I mentioned in my previous blog, our daily dietary and lifestyle choices influence society, the environment and climate. Whether you are into Slow Foods, local, traditional, organic, mindfulness practice, yoga or none of the above you will still derive enormous value from adopting these foods into your diet.
My experience as a macrobiotic counselor and teacher over many years has shown me that there is something for everyone in macrobiotic practice. If you want to lessen or possibly avoid medical treatments, you will benefit from these foods and lifestyle practices. If you want to make your medical treatments more effective, you will benefit from adding these foods into your diet. If you want to protect yourself from some of the harmful side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy you will also benefit from these same foods. If you want to heal more quickly and experience less pain from broken bones or surgeries, you will benefit. If you are a gourmet and want the most delicious and satisfying foods your taste buds will benefit. If you want to loose weight, look and feel better these foods will also help.
My approach to macrobiotic practice is based on adding and not taking away. You can be a one meal a week, one day a week or full time macrobiotic practitioner. We will all benefit from these additions.
I find it alarming that we are gaining so much weight as a society and that this weight gain is starting at younger and younger ages. More than one-third of adults, age 20 years and over, are obese and about the same percentage are overweight. In addition, nearly 20 percent of children, aged 12 to 19 are obese. At my daughters high school graduation recently, I found it hard to accept that so many of our young people are starting off life in this way.
These massive overweight conditions are contributing to heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. According to a New York Times blog last month, nearly one in four teenagers are being diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes. I wonder how we be able to function as society in coming years.
Over the years I have helped thousands of people loose weight successfully and more importantly, keep it off. There is not doubt that the modern diet and our sedentary lifestyle are the cause of this weight and health epidemic. It is easy to observe that all cultures that adopt our dietary and lifestyle practices, gain weight the same as we do. The problem with weight loss is that there is a lack of understanding about the underlying causes of the weight gain in the first place. Weight gain is a symptom of an imbalance in diet, activity and lifestyle practices.
Weight loss programs that are based on restriction and unhealthy foods are doomed to failure. Restriction inevitably leads to excess. Eating less causes you to eat more of the wrong foods. Foods that do not satisfy our basic biological need for health do not lead to long-term weight loss either. It is not so much what we eat that makes us gain weight, it is what our body cannot eliminate. If our metabolism is healthy and active, we naturally eliminate more than we consume. We never have to think about our weight. By metabolism I mean our ability to digest and process the food, absorb the nutrition and eliminate the excess. If we eat the proper foods at the proper times, without skipping meals, our weight adjusts itself properly. Please read my book, The Great Life Diet for more specific details proper meal time and what constitutes a healthy, balanced meal.
When we eat the modern diet chaotically, we start to gain weight. The more we try to eliminate or restrict the foods that are fattening, the more we fuel our appetite for those foods. When we skip meals or eat at random times, we stagnate our metabolism and gain weight. When we do too much strenuous exercise to loose weight, we naturally want to reward ourselves with unhealthy foods. We end up gaining rather than loosing weight. Here are a few suggestions that can help you loose weight successfully and help your life in many other ways as well;
Try to eat a comfortable amount of plant based, whole and unrefined foods, including grains, beans, vegetables and soups. Sit down to eat without reading, watching TV, talking on the phone or driving your car. You will reestablish a connection with your food that will leave you feeling more satisfied with less food. This automatically leads to healthier food choices. Eat quickly steamed green once or twice a day. Walk outside for at least thirty minutes a day. Try to sit less and be active more. Find activities, sports or hobbies that satisfy you more than food. Good luck on your new adventure!
When I wrote my book, The Great Life Diet, I decided to speak from my experience and not try to document anything I said. I knew in time the documentation would appear to me. The most important documentation in recent times has been The China Study by T. Collin Campbell. His research complements the common sense and practical approach of my book. The China Study is a must read for anyone interested in better health be it personal, social or environmental.
I just finished reading this interesting study correlating that late bedtimes and late mealtimes can lead to less healthful diets and to weight gain.
Over the years I discovered that there is a direct connection between how and what we eat. Regulating our sleep and meal times regulates our metabolism; our ability to digest, absorb and eliminate the unused excess from our food. When we sleep, our body cleans and repairs itself. We also gather physical and energetic excess to be eliminated in the morning when we rise. The healthier our diet and activity, the deeper we sleep and also need less time to be refreshed. We can get the most refreshing and healthful sleep when we are in deep sleep by midnight. We also have the greatest ability to eliminate excess close to sunrise. The later we sleep into the day, the more sluggish our metabolism becomes. Most people know this from experience. When you get up late you feel more sluggish and the day does not go the same. During the day we are nourished by solid and liquid foods, at night we are nourished by more subtle vibrational energy from the celestial world. Our body does not have the ability to process the more coarse energy from the sun when we are horizontal. The sun’s energy makes us feel more physically active. This is why we feel sluggish from eating and drinking too much and from sleeping ‘in’ too late.
If our metabolism is healthy, we never need to think about our weight. Being overweight is a symptom of an imbalance in diet and activity. When we adjust our diet, activity and daily schedule, our natural weight and health follow without effort.
Here is a checklist for losing weigh naturally, and of course for maintaing or improving your health. Please check my book for additional details.
Sit down to eat without reading, watching TV or driving.
Sleep before midnight and rise by 7 am.
Eat you meals at regular times, without skipping meals: breakfast by 9 am, lunch by 1 pm and dinner by 7:30 pm
Stop eating three hours before bedtime.
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.
Walking helps all aspects of our body, emotions, and mind in children and adults alike. Walking aids our digestion and improves circulation. It harmonizes the left and right sides of our body including the intestines, liver and spleen, kidneys, lungs, two chambers of our heart, left and right sides of our brain, and two branches of our autonomic nervous system. Walking helps all of these organs and systems work more harmonious and efficiently. It also stimulates bone metabolism and enhances flexibility.
In Oriental medicine, the digestive system and mind are considered front and back. They are one system. The digestive system processes liquid and the brain and nervous system process vibrations. Healthy digestion leads to a healthy mind, thinking, and learning ability. All natural, life-related activity increases our ability to think and figure things out. When you combine healthy eating with healthy activity you have the best of both worlds. These simple practices are all part of my 7 Steps to a Great Life.
Walking outside makes us feel better in every way– it clears and refreshes the mind and lifts the emotions.
Paula Deen has brought the diabetes discussion to the forefront again. It is becoming less and less probable that one can live the modern lifestyle without developing diabetes or other serious health complications. Over the years our society has greatly increased its consumption of processed and unhealthy foods and beverages. The causes of diabetes are no mystery: excessive amounts of animal and dairy foods, rich and fatty desserts, refined carbohydrates, and sugary drinks along with a lack of natural activity.
When we develop diabetes, our bodies are starved for complex carbohydrates. Our body thrives on the complex sugars found in whole grains and whole grain products, beans, and vegetables. These whole foods have been replaced by the highly refined and processed modern diet.
Paula Deen has timed the announcement of her disease with her endorsement of Victoza, an injectable blood sugar control drug that is reported to cost upwards of $500 per month. Using an expensive drug and making attempts at pairing down a rich and excessive diet will not solve the problem. It may temporarily lower blood sugar but will not support health or address any of the causes of diabetes. My method of controlling diabetes (and other life-threatening diseases), 7 Steps to a Great Life, addresses the root causes of diabetes. Simply add to your diet and do not take away. Add whole grains such as brown rice, millet, oatmeal or unrefined pasta. Add vegetable soups. Add bean and vegetable dishes into your diet. Your new dietary choices will help change your appetite towards foods that naturally support your health. Making small changes to your current diet by adding healthful foods will control your diabetes. And my method is financially accessible to everyone.
To jump start your new lifestyle, start by walking outside for a combined thirty minutes a day– either do all thirty minutes at once, or break it up into two 15 minute walks or three 10 minute walks. Walk to the train or park your car further from your destination. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. Walking will help cut down your cravings for sweets and other extreme foods and will stimulate your appetite for foods that will support your heath.
Maybe it is time for Paula Deen to take a big step forward and adopt some of these dietary and lifestyle changes herself. I would be happy to be her coach.
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; add healthy foods and activities into your lifestyle, and a try to cultivate a positive and embracing 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. Frustration and restriction inevitably 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.