A Nation of Snackers

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In the final stages of completing the manuscript for my new book “The Complete Macrobiotic Diet,” the importance of meal times and eating without doing other things is on my mind and as timely as ever.

 

I am totally amazed at the poor state of our collective diet. Recently, the American Institute for Cancer Research published some statistics about our snacking habits and Today talked about our favorite types of snacks as of 2012. Snacking is replacing meals and nearly half of our population enjoys eating alone because they can get other things done at the same time.

 

It’s even worse that snacks change our taste for healthy foods. Craving snacks is an indication that we are not satisfied with our meals. And through not eating meals at all, snack cravings will naturally increase. Naturally healthy foods are moist and flexible, which is nearly the complete opposite of the dry, salty snacks that are the most popular. The dry, salty, snacks also create cravings for unhealthy liquids. It seems to me that this increased snacking is a symptom of a greater frustration in other areas of life, be it socially, emotionally, or job related.

 

If you’re going to snack, go to a health foods store, find a snack that has ingredients that you can understand. The second step is to then introduce foods that are naturally moist and refreshing and have a mild, natural sweetness. Replacing snacks with healthier choices is a much better approach than trying to stop them.

 

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

2 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet

Mom was always right

Posted on by Denny Waxman
The Atlantic recently published an article about broccoli sprout tea:
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have similar effects on mitigating air pollution.
Chemo-prevention is much better than chemo-therapy.

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Uncategorized

A Common Sense reaction to “Fed Up”

Posted on by Denny Waxman

You may want to check out Colin Campbell’s review of the film “Fed Up”.

 

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I would like to add some thoughts about singling out sugar as the cause of our health problems. Historically, the Industrial Revolution was the beginning of large-scale nutritional imbalance through the disruption of eating patterns and increased, large-scale food refining. Animal food, dairy and sugar consumption have increased since that time, together with the rise in degenerative illness.

Trying to stop something is rarely successful; the weight-loss industry demonstrates this. The only approach that can produce long-lasting heath is a varied and satisfying whole food plant-based diet combined with good eating habits and lifestyle practices.

1 Comment | Tags: Uncategorized

Obesity in the U.S.

Posted on by Denny Waxman

The U.S. Leads the way again! Unfortunately, it is individual obesity rate.

 

City Lab Obesity Report

 

How many people do you know practicing macrobiotics or other plant-based diets have issues with being overweight or obese?

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

A Dose of Seaweed

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Miso Soup and Seaweed

Miso Soup and Seaweed

 

Seaweed is coming into the limelight as a superfood because of its abundance of unique nutrients and health benefits. Using seaweed in cooking provides the best protection available against environmental toxins and radioactivity. The iodine in brown seaweed helps maintain the thyroid as well as protect against radioactive iodine. Seaweed protects against and helps pull radiation and heavy metals (such as: mercury, cadmium, barium, lead, arsenic, radioactive strontium-90, to name a few) from the body by binding with them and rendering them inert. Toasted nori has natural anti-biotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-septic properties.

Preparing seaweeds in appropriate ways allows us to derive the maximum benefit of their properties. Seaweed is similar to salt in that it is important for our health, vitality and immunity, but too much negates these benefits. It’s also important to buy high-quality seaweeds from natural food stores and companies.

 

I recommend preparing these various seaweeds in the following ways:

Nori (between a few and several sheets/wk)- in a roll, as a snack, as a garnish*

Wakame (1 or 2 inch pieces/serving often or daily)- in miso soups, in vegetable soups, or sauteed with vegetables

Kombu (standard postage stamp piece – 2 inch strips)- best cooked with beans (2 inch strips) or in a grain dish (stamp-sized)

Arame and Hijiki- best cooked with onions and carrots as a side dish.

 

 

*also great for cats and dogs!

5 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet

The Importance of Sunlight in the Morning

Posted on by Denny Waxman

There was a slideshow from weather.com called “7 Signs You Need More Sunlight– and Don’t Know It.” The morning sun helps many emotional and physical discomforts.

 

We have the greatest ability to release unneeded excess in the early morning hours close to sunrise. It happens as soon as our feet literally hit the ground. The sun rises with a burst of energy that evaporates the dew. This evaporation refreshes everything. The rising sun affects us similarly. This explains why it is more difficult to get started on a rainy or cloudy day. However, whether we can see the sun or not, we still have the best ability to clean and refresh ourselves early in the morning. If we go out and become directly exposed to the early morning sun, we are even more fully charged with its energy.

Philadelphia Dawn Covered with Fog and Dew

 

It’s also important to understand the overall rhythm of the day and night. We eat during the day and are active. At night we utilize the food we ate during the day to maintain and repair ourselves. We recharge our brain, nervous system and organs during the night. The activity during the day charges us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Furthermore, during the night with deep sleep, the inactivity allows us to be nourished by the celestial energies that are blocked by the sun during the day. Before we wake, we gather the physical and energetic excess to release upon rising. Upon rising, we reset our biological clocks and activate our metabolism for the day.

 

This relationship is a bit like breathing. When we breathe in more deeply, we breathe out more deeply. We connect more with our ourselves through this breathing, and receive more air and oxygen. The day for us is breathing in and gathering, and the night like breathing out and releasing. When we start the day earlier, we are able to “breathe” the day more deeply and in turn, become more nourished.

 

4 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Macrobiotics, Mental Health

Ben Franklin, Creativity and Macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

What good shall I do today?

Order and structure fosters health, vitality, and creativity. We can see from the recent Huffington Post article that various types of creative geniuses across cultures had specific routines for mealtimes, sleep, and work. Could it be that the structure of their lives was the key to their creativity?

Ben Franklin’s routine stood out the most for me because his meal and sleeping times closely parallels the schedule that I encourage in my book and seminars. The article does not go into the details of their diets, but Ben Franklin talks about his dietary habits in his autobiography. He became a vegetarian at the age of 16 and returned to his vegetarian practice throughout his life. He believed that grains promoted health and vitality. I also learned today that he was the first American to introduce tofu (tau-fu) to the Colonies by sending soybeans to John Bartram in Philadelphia in 1770.

Ben Franklin's Daily Schedule

Ben Franklin’s Daily Schedule

 

Creativity comes from nature. There is nothing more amazingly and wildly creative than nature itself. Our real creativity comes from aligning ourselves with nature, both with our food and daily schedule. Our approach to macrobiotic practice which encourages having a daily schedule may seem restrictive, but all of these creative people had one thing in common: a regular, daily schedule. We can see from Ben Franklin’s example that macrobiotic practice helps us get in touch with the creative spirit of nature.

 

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Setting One Record Straight

Posted on by Denny Waxman

glass-of-water

An elderly client of mine who is having some issues recently received this e-mail from a well-meaning friend. I would like to comment on this misleading and potentially harmful advice. Below is a snippet from the e-mail:

“HEART ATTACKS AND WATER!

How many folks do you know who say they don’t want to drink anything before going to bed because they’ll have to get up during the night.

Heart Attack and Water – I never knew all of this ! Interesting…….

Something else I didn’t know … I asked my Doctor why people need to urinate so much at night time. Answer from my Cardiac Doctor – Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright (legs swell). When you lie down and the lower body (legs and etc) seeks level with the kidneys, it is then that the kidneys remove the water because it is easier. This then ties in with the last statement!

I knew you need your minimum water to help flush the toxins out of your body, but this was news to me. Correct time to drink water…

Very Important. From A Cardiac Specialist!

Drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body

2 glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs

1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal – helps digestion

1 glass of water before taking a bath – helps lower blood pressure

1 glass of water before going to bed – avoids stroke or heart attack

I can also add to this… My Physician told me that water at bed time will also help prevent night time leg cramps. Your leg muscles are seeking hydration when they cramp and wake you up with a Charlie Horse.”

 

According to Oriental medicine, different systems of the body are more active and adjust at certain times of the day to return to balance. The stomach and pancreas are most active after lunchtime. Our ideal lunchtime begins between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The stomach and pancreas become more active between 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sleepiness after lunch indicates either that our digestion is weak or we’re experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

 

The kidneys and bladder are active between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. and when we are in a horizontal position. The kidneys filter toxins from our blood and regulate our water and mineral balance while we sleep. We eliminate these toxins after we rise in the morning. As we age, we tend to become more dry and lose some of our natural flexibility. The lack of flexibility in the kidneys, bladder, and prostate (in a man’s case) causes us to wake up to urinate. The modern diet full of meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, and baked goods intensifies rigidity, as do iced drinks.

 

The most important source of water is in our food.  Water in food helps flexibility. Our bodies absorb water within food more effectively through digestion. Healthy foods such as cooked grains, beans, vegetables, salads, and fruits have a naturally high water content. A variety of these foods creates a healthy balance of minerals that helps avoid cramping at night. Compare the difference in water between a chip, a dry cereal, or a cracker with that of a boiled grain. Dry foods make it difficult to absorb water effectively, much like what happens when a potted plant dries out and is then watered. Furthermore, excess water interferes with deep, refreshing sleep. We ideally use drinks and fluids for our enjoyment and to satisfy thirst.

5 Comments | Tags: Macrobiotics

Cravings, A Search For Balance

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I’d like to offer a physiological perspective on cravings and how to work with them. Cravings are a way our body communicates with us. They are a way we seek balance and align with nature. For example, warm, dry weather makes us thirsty.

There are two main types of cravings.

1)  Intense cravings. Unsatisfied intense cravings tend to disappear. These cravings often signify that we are eliminating that type of food from our body and we intensely crave it as it leaves. The best thing to do with these cravings is to take attention away from them and place our focus elsewhere. These cravings usually disappear quickly. If it is something our body needs, these cravings will persist.

 

2)  The other type of craving is that of a persistent or recurring craving, usually caused by an actual need. These are more complicated and try handling them in the following way.

         -You like chocolate, but you decide you don’t want to eat it anymore and so you cut it out.

        -Then, you crave chocolate.

        -Take a moment to consider what it is about the chocolate that you crave.

         -Chocolate is essentially concentrated fats and sweets.

        -You may just be craving more high-quality rich and sweet food in your diet.

        -Or your diet may be too simple.

During a chocolate craving, try substituting walnuts and raisins or make a dessert with tahini or a nut-butter and natural sweeteners. They will probably satisfy the craving and are healthier choices.

 

The best way to handle consistent cravings is to break the specific craving down into its components (taste and consistency) and then make a choice with healthier options.

 

Two Dynamics of Cravings

1)  Yin Yang. Sweet cravings (yin cravings), for many, are a result of eating too much animal foods, cheese, baked or toasted and salty foods (yang foods). Reducing or eliminating heavy yang foods will diminish much of the sweet craving.

2)  Crunchy foods create cravings for more crunchy foods. Sweets create cravings for sweets, caffeine for caffeine. Imbalances perpetuate themselves and it seems difficult recognizing this pattern. Fortunately though, balances also perpetuate themselves. Moving towards balance is the most effective way to overcome cravings.

 

Some Substitutions for Common Cravings

1) Crunchy

         -Add a healthy, crunchy food, such as blanched vegetables or carrot sticks

2) Poor-Quality Sweets

         -Add more grain and vegetable, quality sweets such as corn on the cob (naturally sweet) or cooked onions, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes (which become sweet with cooking). Pureed, sweet vegetable soups are even more satisfying. Rice syrup and barley malt are more natural sweeteners.

3) Fatty Foods

         -Use high-quality, unrefined sesame and olive oil (coconut oil is better suited for a tropical climate) in cooking and salads

4) Animal Proteins

         -Tofu, tempeh or seitan and other plant-based protein, matching the consistency and taste of the particular craving. For example, tempeh often satisfies chicken and cheese cravings.

 

Pregnancy Cravings

A baby begins to make demands and choices from the very beginning. Many women know they’re pregnant just from cravings. Babies first choose from the mother’s blood. If it is not present in her blood, they seek it out in her constitution (teeth, hair, bones). If what the baby seeks is not there either, babies call for take-out, which is a pregnancy craving.

 

My entire approach is not on avoiding cravings, but to help create a healthy, natural pattern of balance.

Chocolate, anyone?

4 Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet

Confused About Protein? Don’t be!

Posted on by Denny Waxman

 

Food can be just as addictive as cigarettes.

Food can be just as addictive as cigarettes.

Article from the Telegraph UK: “High-Protein Diet ‘as bad for health as smoking’”

To paraphrase T. Colin Campbell, epigenetics controls genetics and food controls epigenetics, or how our genes are turned on or off and express themselves. According to Neal Barnard, M.D. genes are merely a suggestion. This gets to the root of many things, which also offers another powerful testament to ourselves: we are ultimately in control of the switches than can determine health or sickness. This article demonstrates a lot of the confusion created between researchers and doctors within the field of medicine.

A poor diet is more harmful than smoking; more people die of diet-related illness than do from smoking. Everyone now knows that tobacco is highly addictive and has been manufactured to become more addictive overtime, and the same thing can be said for food and food manufacturers. The sad thing is that although health craves health, it works the same way with sickness.

The problem with the article, besides the conflicting reports of analysis between researchers and doctors, was in the conclusion. After all the research about protein, the types of proteins and the types of intakes at different ages within a research population, “British experts agreed that cutting down on red meat had been proven to lower the risk of cancer but said a balanced diet was still the best option,” saying nothing about what constitutes a balanced diet!

Plant-based diets using a variety of cooking methods that include grains, beans and vegetables and other plant-based foods provides the proper balance of minerals, proteins and carbohydrates that we need to operate at optimum health and efficiency. This proper balance of protein within a plant-based diet is suitable for all ages in life, from young to old.

2 Comments | Tags: Articles and Research, Cancer