Al Gore Goes Vegan-It’s Not Stopping Meat, It’s How You Stop It

Posted on by Denny Waxman
Earth as Viewed from Apollo 17

Earth as Viewed from Apollo 17

Food choices, diets and our relationship to the production of food are becoming more and more prevalent in national discussions. People are becoming more openly aware of food personally, socially and environmentally.  A recent article in The Washington Post about Al Gore’s choice to become vegan came out a couple of weeks ago. Eliminating meat is the most environmentally healthy decision an individual can make. I’d like to congratulate Al Gore on making this decision and reinforcing his dedication and practice as an environmentalist. I hope that as a result, people will better understand the urgency necessary to make a dietary choice in relation to personal and environmental health.  At the same time, however, I believe there is a right way to move forward in the direction towards sustainability regarding diet and lifestyle.

With recent insights and evidence mounting in support of a whole-food plant-based diet as demonstrated by T. Colin Campbell, I believe it is important to go beyond looking at what we eat as a single, mechanically separated facet of our lives, and begin to consider food as an integral part of our entire lifestyle and approach to life. Learning how to make informed, dietary choices and developing healthy habits that will last over the course of a lifetime is a real kind of sustainability that is attainable by every individual who makes the choice to lessen or stop meat.

As our modern environments are largely unhealthy, it is up to individuals to take the initiative to create environments where health thrives. Health craves health and as we develop habits that foster healthier and healthier choices, the environment will reflect that. Our relationship with our environment and health are reflections of each other that in turn affect each other exponentially.

The most basic and real sustainability that we have control over is in our food choices. In order for food choices to be sustainable for our health and well-being, they must be delicious and satisfying. Although this may require from us the time and dedication to learn to cook, prepare and eat, as our knowledge of the food grows, so does our satisfaction over time.  Furthermore, we also have the ability to learn how to make better food choices in restaurants or in any other circumstance. And over time, these skills and habits we form with our food become easy in the long run, when we look at the scale of a lifetime.  Our food choices should center around what nourishes us and in turn, brings out our best. Most often, these foods happen to be those that are indigenous to our unique climates and ecosystems. Although eating “local” is important, eating foods native to our climatic zones fosters the connection we have to the environments where we live. For example, eating local foods in season helps make us more aware of the changes of the seasons themselves, for starters.

There is more to changing one’s diet than lessening/stopping meat; it is how you go about it. As the topics of the sources of our food and seed, our agricultural practices, our environments and our dietary/health patterns become more prominent in our cultural awareness, it would not be surprising to me if more and more people decide to lessen or stop their consumption of meat.  As much as I support this choice, I would also like those to be aware of the enormous potential to drastically change the course and quality of one’s life this kind of choice has. The potential to become in control of one’s direction towards health, towards a lifestyle that fosters sustainable and local communities and nourishes both the body and the mind.

 

No Comments | Tags: Articles and Research

An Unobstructed, Natural Flow of Emotion

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A few weeks ago, I posted about a guiding image of health I refer to when considering a healthy body and mind and I touched lightly on emotions. In this post, I’d like to talk a bit more about how emotions are inseparable from our health.

A Sunset Sail in Key West

A Sunset Sail in Key West

 

Emotions specifically depend on liquids. Without liquid, we would have no emotion. Culturally, we can imagine it as: when are we more emotional? When do we visit bodies of water, and for what reasons? How does our language express the observation of emotions in others? What kinds of liquids do we use and for which purposes for expressing which emotions? Though these are all interesting questions to ask; I’ll follow up with some answers, as quickly as I can.

People tend to be more emotional during the full moon. People will contemplate beside a lake, follow the path of a stream to explore, bring a loved one or a friend to the bank of a river to watch it flow, or to intake the power of the ocean. When we talk about emotions, we can refer to an overly sentimental person as sappy, or wishy-washy and in the other extreme barren or dry. It is interesting that we drink beer at sporting events, wine for intimate evenings, tea or water to relax or calm down. Liquid carries these drinks into our bodies and the character of each one brings about different emotional states.

Water itself permeates every aspect of life, and the human body and the planet itself is composed mostly of water. Water is associated with the unconscious and is included in all types of ritual- be it something as simple as a celebration at a sporting event or a spiritual ceremony.  There are ponds and lakes–places where water gathers. And there are streams, rivers and oceans, which are places where water moves. This brings me back to the vision, or image, of health and the mountain stream’s emotional complement: healthy flow.

There are natural and healthy emotions.  Like a mountain stream in equilibrium, we associate streams with tranquility, curiosity, joy. This is our natural emotional state. Our natural emotions, when consistent, encourage a healthy flow in our body and mind together.  In an unnatural state, there is disruption. I am saying that emotions are not positive or negative, but that the state of our emotions is either natural and healthy, or disrupted.  In disrupted, unhealthy states, our liquid is either stagnant or surging.  Stagnancy, or lack of movement, can be expressed as desensitization, depression or numbness. And surges, which seem like “boiling over”, can be expressed as aggression or hysteria.

Emotions also depend upon temperature. Emotion expresses itself when liquid comes to the surface of the body and evaporates. This partially explains how people living in or visiting hotter climates express emotions more readily than in colder climates where we may need to be “warmed up” first. The use of more fire in cooking raises our temperature. Outdoor cooking, such as barbecue, brings out a lot of emotion. Other ways of raising our temperature is in the use spices, stimulants, and alcohol. The opposite, cold, interferes with our ability to express emotions smoothly. Cold affects our bodies through ice, out-of-climate foods and chemicals (especially artificial sweeteners). Extremes of both hot and cold have disruptive effects on our emotions and in turn, our physical and mental health.

It follows then that the state of our emotional health has the capacity to affect the course of our overall health, either in a more natural and healthy flow or into more disrupted and unhealthy flow. Because health craves health, a flowing and joyous emotional state helps us flow with healthy habits. This season is a perfect time while in the company of family or friends to return to our natural state of tranquility, curiosity, and joy.

 

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Philosophy, Mental Health

Healthy Holiday Survival Guide

Posted on by Denny Waxman
A Feast Prepared and Photographed By Susan Waxman

A Feast Prepared and Photographed By Susan Waxman

The holiday season is one in which we express our appreciation with our friends and loved ones, with a time to experience real joy and togetherness. It’s easy to get caught up in the commercialization of these holidays. This year, I hope we can be more aware of what these times are supposed to impart, which is joy, togetherness and appreciation.

With some forethought and common sense, it is possible to continue with our healthy habits and practices as well as embrace the spirit of joy that the season brings to us. In this way, we can avoid feelings of depression or feeling restricted during or after the season.

Health is a direction, not a fixed state. That is to say there is not an “on” or “off” state of our health and well-being, but we can always choose to move in the direction of health. Some days and periods will be better than others on the path. Even if we take some detours, if we keep our goals with us, we will reach them. So, it is not healthy to feel overly restricted during the holidays as we enjoy them with our friends and families. During the season, keep in mind your long-term health goals, which will help to decide what you can afford. The controlling factors of our health are our eating habits, our dietary choices, and our activity and lifestyle practices. Keeping in mind the following during the season will help with maintaining healthy habits.

1) Remember to eat at the table without distractions. This is a good time to reconnect with those we may not have seen. Even if you are having turkey and cranberry sauce, sitting down and eating, rather than at a television or while standing up will deter you from overeating
2) Try to limit your eating to mealtimes.
3) Wherever possible, include grains and vegetables to maintain the format of a complete and balanced meal.
4) Include foods that naturally aid digestion such as vegetable soups, radishes, sauerkraut and naturally made vinegars.
5) It’s also a good time to go outside walking together.
6) Keep up with your daily body rub.

 

Below are two natural detox remedies you can implement throughout the festivities to maintain digestion.

-Bancha Twig Tea or Kukicha Tea is a naturally alkalizing beverage that activates digestion and circulation. Drinking a cup of Kukicha is a great way to end a meal. “Shoyu bancha” is much more effective remedy that can be used on occasion and is prepared by putting a quarter teaspoon of shoyu into the cup before pouring the tea in. Stir and drink.

-Doing a foot bath is also a relaxing way to detox and warming for cold nights. Fill a basin with comfortably hot water from the tap and mix in a handful of table salt. Soak for 5-10 minutes.

Our practices of self-care and self-love will help us extend those feelings to those around us. Here’s to a joyous season of celebration!

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet

Bill Clinton’s Invitation to Macrobiotics

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A recent article in AARP The Magazine: “Bill Clinton Explains Why He Became A Vegan” caught my attention. The article explains President Clinton’s mostly vegan diet, and gives readers a glimpse of what he may eat on any given day. I have been in practice as a macrobiotic educator, seminar leader and counselor since the early ’70s, enabling people to rebuild their health when dealing with issues of weight loss, life threatening diseases, heart attacks and other maladies. I do this using food and lifestyle as the basis for health. Macrobiotics is an orderly approach to life where we learn how to make healthy, balanced choices in diet and lifestyle. I enjoy working with people who want to be empowered through their health by realizing the difference food can make in accomplishing this goal. I often see people when everything else they tried has failed and witness them regain and maintain wellness without the use of a vitamin or supplements. This is possible through learning what balances the body, and what it takes to establish the kind of homeostasis that builds health. Several of my cases were documented on the show The Incurables and in published books and articles.

 

The article on President Clinton brings into focus the transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet many people undergo in order to solve a health problem or improve overall wellness. However, I notice in some instances that the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan diet does not necessarily improve health and in some cases, worsens health. People are generally on the right road with this choice, but they simply need a bit more insight about food and lifestyle. Some people give up and go back to ill health and old habits when just a few small changes would have helped them to reach their goal. I witness time and again how the combination of eating habits and complete, balanced meals creates lasting health. It is my goal in this article to bring to light what makes a balanced and healthy plant-based meal and lifestyle.

 

Many now believe that a good diet is essential to health, but know little about what constitutes a good diet. In order to build and maintain health on a plant-based diet, balance is essential. A balanced diet in the practice of macrobiotics is one that is composed of complete meals. A complete meal in my approach to macrobiotic practice consists of a grain and a separate, seasonal, regional vegetable dish. For example, rice and separately steamed kale is a complete meal, whereas a vegetable cooked with rice (although a wonderful combination) is still a grain dish.

 

Let me explain further. There are three main categories of plant-based foods: grains (some cultures eat grains and beans together), vegetables, and soups. Anything prepared with a grain constitutes a grain dish. Anything cooked in soup constitutes a soup. This means, for example, that lentils, barley and vegetables can be cooked in soup, but it is still a soup. The diversity between the food categories promotes a dynamic interaction of the foods we prepare, which enhances the nutrition of each dish. It is like having a conversation; when different people join a conversation, it becomes richer and more dynamic. It is the same way with a meal. Because grains, beans and soups are powerful, they encompass the foods that accompany them; vegetables do not possess this same power.

 

We are led to think that we need to get complete chains of amino acids to be well nourished. Modern nutrition insinuates that these complete amino acid chains are primarily in animal and dairy foods, which is simply not true. A varied plant-based diet also provides complete proteins.

 

A grain is the seed and the fruit of a plant literally merged into one. Different types of vegetables complement the grain. The interaction between vegetables and grains provides the most complete balance of all nutrients, not limited to proteins. Beans are a further nutritional complement to grains and vegetables, which combine well with a lunch or a dinner and help us to feel more satisfied.

 

When dining out or away from home, Italian, Indian, and Middle Eastern restaurants usually serve meals and dishes that follow the format suggested. Italian food features soups as well as pasta and vegetable dishes. Middle Eastern food often features rice with lentils, or couscous, and vegetable dishes. Falafel with pickles and lettuce on a pita is a complete meal! Consider Mexican meals also without the meat or dairy; another good choice is a vegetarian burrito without the cheese. Whether at home or away, following this format is the most important, especially if we can integrate a bean dish or a soup as well. It is better to lower the standard on food quality than to compromise the format of complete and balanced meals. White rice and broccoli conform to the format of a complete meal. These formats for a meal are by far the healthiest and are the ways the world’s civilizations have been eating for thousands of years. My wife and I went out recently and had the following meal without a soup:

 -Grilled polenta with sautéed broccoli rabe

-Cannellini beans in a light tomato broth

-I had pappardelle pasta with porcini mushrooms

-And my wife had capellini pasta with broccoli rabe and a few fresh tomatoes

         This meal had a nice arrangement of grains, vegetables and bean dishes. The soup would have likely been too much! Polenta and pasta both grains, the broccoli rabe, the vegetable and the beans made the meal even more satisfying. We accompanied the meal with a nice red wine.

 

No doubt many are watching our former President as he embraces a new way of eating to enhance his heart health and longevity. I, for one, want to see him succeed! To our beloved former President Clinton and to all of those observing and embracing his diet, I would like to suggest the following additions and changes.   Because we live in a fast paced world, people often look for a quick and easy breakfast. The answer to this need is often a smoothie.  President Clinton(and many others) often starts the day with a smoothie. I do not recommend smoothies for a variety of reasons.

 

Smoothies weaken our health because our blood absorbs the sugars so quickly that they can upset our balance of blood sugar. By adding a protein supplement to a smoothie, we run a further risk of upsetting our nutritional balance since all foods in a balanced diet already contain the proper proportion of proteins.

 

Smoothies are not the best way to start the day because they weaken rather than strengthen digestion. Good digestion is crucial for good health, well-being, and energy. The fiber in whole foods such as grains, beans, and vegetables activates digestion through the process of chewing and moving through our digestive system. Liquefying the fiber in a food can have the opposite effect because it dulls the digestive process. The fiber in food promotes regularity, absorbs toxins, and helps cultivate beneficial bacteria. Additionally, I observe in my counseling that iced beverages can shock our kidneys and digestive system. I do not recommend cold drinks for this reason. Drinks are best at room temperature or warmer.

 

Remember, healthy, balanced meals are based around a whole grain and vegetable. An excellent breakfast: miso soup followed by oatmeal and steamed greens. Miso soup aids digestion, and furthermore strengthens and nourishes the body. Miso soup is one of the two most unique probiotics on the planet(the other being naturally fermented sauerkraut). Naturally fermented miso soup, prepared with wakame seaweed and vegetables, eaten often or daily, regulates and maintains healthy digestion. Substituting miso soup for a smoothie is better for a vegetarian diet in the long term. Miso soup followed by a grain and vegetable dish is not only delicious and satisfying, but it is the best way to receive the most nutrition possible. The soup can be made in a batch to last for a few days. It can then be heated and taken in a thermos to accommodate an on-the-go lifestyle.

 

You may not know that quinoa, although a wonderful food is a wild grass and not a grain– like that of rice or barley.  Although high in protein, quinoa does not provide the same nutritional balance within the body as do grains. So, eating and incorporating quinoa into a diet is healthy, but quinoa is no substitute for a vital whole grain. That is, it could be the base of a dish with other vegetables, but it does not complete the meal.

 

Apart from primarily focusing on what to eat, considering how and when we eat is equally important. Many clients report that one of the most profound and immediate effects–even from those without vegetarian diets– is that of having regular and consistent meal times. Our digestive system is not “on call” as our lifestyles may like it to be, but eating when the digestive system is most active helps us to be more satisfied.

 

Honoring the relationship between the body and mind by having meals at the same time everyday regulates digestion, hormones and stabilizes blood sugar. Starting breakfasts no later than 9 a.m., starting lunches no later than 1 p.m. and starting dinners no later than 7:30 p.m. works best and even accommodates a diverse or varied schedule. If we have a couple of hours after our last meal before we sleep, sleeping becomes easier too. Developing these habits promotes long-term health for the vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike. I have clients that have lost weight and improved their health simply by adhering to regular meal times and taking the time to eat slowly and chew until the food is liquid in their mouth and then swallowed.  This liquefying also helps to maintain or improve health.

 

For a vegetarian or vegan diet that promotes health, it is not simply a matter of eating vegetables and cutting out dairy and meat. It involves developing health-supporting habits. We get much more benefit from the habits we practice than the habits or behaviors we abstain from. In the short term, we benefit from avoiding animal and dairy foods, but the habits we form are what promote long-term health. My concern is that President Clinton’s current diet will not nourish his health and vitality in the long run, nor allow him to operate at full potential. I am concerned that he is using up his reserve nutrition to keep going and is not replenishing himself with meals that are complete and balanced nutritionally. I encourage President Clinton to start having grain and vegetable based meals while also trying to include a bean dish and a soup on a daily basis as well. Savory soups condition our digestive system and help to absorb the maximum nutrition from our foods. I believe smoothies compromise digestion and interfere with overall absorption of nutrients.

 

The combination and interaction of grains, beans, vegetables and soups not only satisfy more, but also nourish us much more deeply on all levels. Even just one meal a day with this combination will yield health-enhancing results in a short period of time–in a matter of days or weeks.

 

If you are choosing to become vegan or vegetarian in an effort to have optimal health, I want this blog to serve as an encouragement to you and provide the information to take you to the next step for optimal health. You have given up meat and dairy and I support this choice. I now invite you to embrace the right combination of plant-based foods to give you a healthy life with sustained energy, vitality and balance.  Take my challenge and try eating for one or two weeks based on the menus below. I promise you will feel wonderful, operate at full capacity and fulfill your destiny to eat healthy.

 

Compiled and designed by Susan Waxman, this sample menu is for those who enjoy cooking and demonstrates the variety of grains, vegetables and flavors possible in one week. There is further direction on how to use leftover dishes in future meals, whether incorporated or as a separate dish. If you follow a gluten free diet, there are minimal substitutions necessary to tailor the menu. The versatility within this week can also be modified to fit the pace of your lifestyle and modifications for vinegars or vegetables where appropriate. I’ve provided links to some of the foods that may be unfamiliar. Check out more recipes on Susan’s blog called “Taste with Integrity”. Have fun, enjoy, and let me hear about your experience of the challenge!

photo-2

Day 1

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 * Soft millet cooked with sweet vegetables - onions and cauliflower                                                                                                                                      

 * Quick steamed leafy greens (collards or kale) with fresh squeezed lemon juice

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

* Brown rice cooked with pearled barley

* Miso soup with naturally fermented miso  (wakame sea vegetable, dried shitake mushrooms, daikon radish, napa cabbage; finely chopped scallion garnish)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Sautéed and simmered sweet root vegetables using toasted sesame oil (carrot, onions; seasoned with shoyu(natural soy sauce),fresh grated ginger  juice)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Blanched vegetable salad (bok choy, broccoli, and red radishserved with brown rice/cider vinegar condiment)

 

Mid-afternoon snack -Fresh carrot, apple and celery juice

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 * Farro with sautéed vegetables and white beans (red onions, baby kale and navy beans)                                                                                            

Steamed sweet potato

* Fresh arugula salad with tofu cheese

* Poached pear in a balsamic barley malt reduction

 Day 2

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 * Soft cooked rice and barley using the leftover rice

* Blanched vegetable salad (napa cabbage, broccoli and carrots)

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

* Leftover farro with sautéed vegetables and white beans

* Miso soup made with naturally fermented miso (wakame sea vegetable, onions, turnips and turnip greens; scallion garnish)                      

* Leftover steamed sweet potatoes

Quick-sautéed leafy greens (baby bok choy, and collards greens)

 

 Mid afternoon snack – Warm apple cider with fresh lemon

 

 Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Pan-fried millet croquettes using the left over millet and corn meal flour with vegan tartar sauce (tahini based with horseradish and fresh herbs)

* French lentils cooked with onions and leeks and fresh herbs

* Quick-steamed kale with fresh lemon

* Sauerkraut or kimchi

*Fresh fruit kanten(agar)

 Day 3

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

*Steel-cut oats with maple syrup

*Blanched vegetable salad(collards, green cabbage, and carrots)

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 *Brown rice cooked with sweet brown rice with a condiment of lightly toasted chopped walnuts                                                                                

*Miso soup made with naturally fermented miso(wakame sea vegetable,  dried hen-of-the-woods mushroom, onion and watercress)                  

*Leftover French lentils*Quick Steamed mustard greens with mustard dressing

 

Mid Afternoon snack -Fresh Carrot apple and orange juice

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

*Udon style noodles with sautéed vegetables and creamy tofu sauce(onions, baby kale, feather like carrot matchsticks and tofu cream cheese)     

*Special Vegetable Dish – Nishime Style(long-steamed vegetables) cooking(onions, green cabbage, hard winter kabocha or buttercup squash, and parsnip)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

*Fresh salad(Hearts of Romaine lettuce, cucumbers and pickled red onion)Served with a light vinaigrette dressing

*Amasake lemon pudding

Day 4

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

*Leftover steel-cut oats with a condiment of ume-shiso sprinkles

*Quick-steamed napa cabbage

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 * Vegetable sushi roll using your leftover brown rice and sweet rice (fried tempeh, sauerkraut, blanched carrots and cucumber, or keep it simple using cucumber, fresh shiso leaves and umeboshi paste) Susan’s special sauce made with roasted tahini, umeboshi paste and mustard; wasabi is optional                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

* Leftover Nice

* Quick-sautéed leafy greens using extra virgin olive oil (baby bok choy and bok choy)

 

Mid – afternoon  Pick me up – Warmed apple cider with fresh lemon

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Couscous with sautéed vegetables (red onion, carrot and green peas)                                                                                                                                

* Chickpea stew (onion, burdock root, sweet potato and spices)                                                                                                                                            

Fresh arugula and Belgium endive salad

* Red grape fruit kanten

Day 5

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 * Steamed sourdough bread with apple butter or your favorite fruit spread

* Blanched vegetable salad (cabbage, kale and red radish)

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

* Leftover couscous

* Leftover chick pea stew

* Quick steamed collard greens with fresh lemon

* Quick pickles made with umeboshi vinegar

 

Mid-afternoon snack – fresh carrot and leafy greens juice

 

 Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 * Brown rice cooked with quinoa – toasted sesame seeds

* Leftover cream of cauliflower soup with fresh herb garnish

* Sautéed broccoli using olive oil

* Fresh iceberg lettuce and hearts of romaine salad (cucumber, radicchio and  tofu cheese)                                                                                                 

Leftover red grape canteen

 Day 6

Breakfast

* Soft corn grits (make extra, pour into a pyrex dish and let sit to use the next day)

* Water-sautéed baby kale

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

* Leftover brown rice and quinoa

* Miso soup (wakame sea vegetable, turnips, turnip greens and chopped scallions)                                                                                                         

* Arame sea-vegetables with onions, carrots, fresh tofu

* Quick-steamed collard greens with fresh lemon

 

Mid- afternoon snack – warmed and diluted amasake

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Penne pasta with sautéed broccoli rabe and sun-dried tomatoes

* White beans with sautéed escarole

* Fresh arugula salad with pickled red radish, poached pears and toasted pine nuts

 

Day 7

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

* Soft rice porridge

* Quick-steamed watercress

 

Lunch                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

* Pan fried polenta

* Leftover white beans

* Blanched vegetable salad (napa cabbage, broccoli)

* Quick umeboshi vinegar pickles

 

 Mid-afternoon pick me up – Fresh tangerines

 

Dinner                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

* Brown rice cooked with lentils and sautéed onions

* Miso soup (wakame sea vegetable, dried shitake mushrooms, daikon radish and leafy greens)

* Leftover Arame sea-vegetable dish

* Pressed salad with Tahini dressing (green cabbage, celery and cucumber and red radish)

* Baked apple stuffed with toasted walnuts and currants

To a great life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment | Tags: Articles and Research, Macrobiotics

Macrobiotics from the Heart

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I’d like to share with you this report from the Macrobiotic Teachers and Practitioners Conference recently in Lisbon.

Macro Meeting Lisbon Report

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Philosophy

The Image of Health

Posted on by Denny Waxman
noname

Family Vacation at Lake Paupac

Nature continually seeks balance. We can look to the natural world as a model for our health as we ourselves are a part of nature, inseparable from it even. An image I follow in my macrobiotic counseling practice to guide others to return to health is that of a mountain stream.

In this mountain stream, water flows uninterrupted in a perfect amount and at a perfect rate. Within this equilibrium, the water constantly cleans and renews itself. It is fresh, slightly alkaline and full of oxygen. Water comes from the clouds and atmosphere surrounding the mountain, it bubbles up from under the ground and flows down the mountain, and reaches the bottom. Each drop goes through the water (hydrological) cycle and returns to the sky again, in a beautiful, perpetual loop with the mountain. Though the water coming to the mountain may have evaporated from an ocean or a river, in the process of becoming part of the stream, impurities disappear, as they themselves “go with the flow”. They transform into different things, bond with other things, settle in the sediment, become rocks, etc. As long as there is unimpeded movement through the volume it carved for itself over a long time, the stream as a whole takes care of itself.

However, things can cause a stream to lose its pure vitality and balance.

*Lack or Excess of Water Affects Flow

1] Say there is a drought. Imagine the earth beneath the stream loses moisture, and is overdrawn due to lack of rain as water previously saturating the soil drops to a lower level. Though the original source of the water may have been pure, the water putrefies in stagnation.  The stream becomes a network of puddles that are now breeding grounds.

2] Imagine heavy snows all winter and in the spring, the snow melts and tumbles into the stream, causing flooding. The flooding erodes the banks of the stream, dredges in sediments that were previously undisturbed and inundates the natural filtration system of the stream.

*Interfering Elements Affect Flow

1] A storm comes. A tree falls. No one hears it, but it falls over the stream, slowing down the flow or perhaps blocking it all together.

2] Perhaps a boulder rolls into the stream and settles there. The water, as it’s flowing, hits the boulder and “splits” apart around the boulder. On the edges of the boulder where the water suddenly changes course to converge again on the other side, sediments and other impurities, collect along the edges of the boulder and build up.

A healthy stream is one whose flow is in balance. I enjoy this image and example from nature because the stream is very much a reflection of our own bodies. For health, there is a balance between the food we eat, our digestion of the food and the circulation of its nutrition. Food is the water, digestion and circulation are the volume of the stream and flow of the water.

*Lack or Excess of Food Affects Digestion & Circulation

1] When our food is too simple or we are not eating enough, then our bodies can stagnate and degenerate, even if the food is natural and unrefined.

2] When we eat foods that are too rich or excessive, our bodies become inundated with things we can not process as well, also leading to degenerative illness.

3] Food of poor quality affects our nourishment, digestion and circulation.

4] Our emotions also behave like water in that they can flow through us, and affect us. Anger is a surge and depression a stagnation. Healthy emotions, on the other hand, like healthy streams, clean and renew us.

*The Trees and The Boulders in our Bodies

1] Blockages in our body can come from clogged arteries, fatty deposits, calcification, chronic overeating.

 

We can recover our natural sense of balance by aligning ourselves with nature’s orderly cycles. Orderly cycles such as the stream, but there are other rhythmic cycles too, such as that of the sun and moon. If we align ourselves to wake up and go to sleep with the natural rhythm of the day and night, our bodies and emotions align more naturally to the “flow”. If we align ourselves to practice having specific mealtimes, we align with the rhythm of the sun. Aligning in this way also helps up to be more aware of how the food we eat affects us physically and emotionally.

Health is natural and our bodies are always trying to clean and renew themselves  and we lessen the burden when we are aware and tend to our food, digestion and circulation. With our unique approach to macrobiotics at the Strengthening Health Institute, we teach people to apply these principles to create lasting health. We can use our diets, eating habits, mental, emotional, spiritual practices and activities as tools to seek and find the balance that nature seeks, much like the mountain stream.

 

*If you are interested in learning more about me or scheduling a consultation, please visit the home page of my website here.

No Comments | Tags: Macrobiotic Diet, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Mental Health

Getting to the “Heart of Things” in Lisbon, Portugal

Posted on by Denny Waxman

 

This past week, I traveled to Lisbon, Portugal to participate in two events.

The first three days of my trip, I participated in The GreenFest, a three day festival at the Estoril Congress Center. As you may guess, The GreenFest commits to annually showcasing and demonstrating the current progress and topics surrounding sustainability in business, technology and lifestyle. The practice of macrobiotics fosters personal, social and environmental health. One of these ways, for example, is the emphasis on eating local, indigenous foods which  naturally reduces our carbon footprint. I was happy to be a part of this discussion in Portugal. At The GreenFest, I gave two presentations:

1) What’s Your Gut Telling You?

-and-

2) Live and Prosper with ‘The Great Life Diet’

The second three days of the trip, I participated in The Macrobiotics Teachers and Practitioners Conference with others from around Europe. I met new friends as well as reconnected with some old ones.  The theme this year was “Macrobiotics from the Heart: the emotional and spiritual dimension of macrobiotic healing“.

Interestingly, I met a wonderful and creatively enterprising young woman, who graduated from The Macrobiotic Institute in Lisbon. She publishes a bilingual blog and has read “The Great Life Diet”. It is a great blog, friendly, and with many recipes and information. She informed me that in Portuguese, the title of my book translates to “A Fulfilling Life”. She’s going to run a contest on her blog asking readers what a fulfilling life means to them and the person with the most inspiring answer will receive a copy of my book in Portuguese.

The  conference was a deeply moving series of discussions of which the topic brought us all together in a very encouraging, supportive manner. I was inspired to reconnect with others and see how they have evolved on their macrobiotic path as well as observing the  convergence of our core ideas, despite the diversity of our practices(in some ways). This was revealed to me in hearing another teacher say what I have been thinking and feeling for many years: It is spiritual health that the practice of macrobiotics fosters, which gives guidance and direction to emotional and physical health.

The result and common theme of these meetings was how to make macrobiotics more open and embracing, and how to evolve macrobiotics as a model of health. We intend to have a group website for all of the participants to showcase the diverse applicability of the practice of macrobiotics as well as the overall unity and diversity of our teaching and practice. I had the opportunity to talk about the image of health that guides my practice as well as new directions for macrobiotic practice.  I look forward to sharing these ideas about macrobiotic practice in the near future.

The trip to Lisbon was inspiring and full. I hope you enjoy the photos! Until next time.

 

 

with Rik Vermuyten

with Rik Vermuyten

Simon Brown, Sandra Mesquita and Rik

Simon Brown, Sandra Mesquita and Rik

Teresa Mizon, Simon and Rik

Teresa Mizon, Simon and Rik

with Chico Varatojo

with Chico Varatojo

Presenting at GreenFest

Presenting at GreenFest

Teachers at the Green Fest

Teachers at the Green Fest

Celebrating and Relaxing after the Teaching Conference

Celebrating and Relaxing after the Teaching Conference

with Rik and Geninha Varatojo

with Rik and Geninha Varatojo

Vittorio Calogero

Vittorio Calogero

Chico and Geninha

Chico and Geninha

Celebratory Dinner

Celebratory Dinner

Traditional Portuguese rice and fish

Traditional Portuguese rice and fish

Roland Schneider and Nicole Demer

Roland Schneider and Nicole Demer

A Glimpse into the Teaching Conference

A Glimpse into the Teaching Conference

Entry sign at The Macrobiotic Institute of Portugal

Entry sign at The Macrobiotic Institute of Portugal

with Pedro Norton de Matos(organizer of GreenFest), Sara Nino, and Alfredo Bataller Pineda(CEO of Sha Wellness Center)

with Pedro Norton de Matos(organizer of GreenFest), Sara Nino, and Alfredo Bataller Pineda(CEO of Sha Wellness Clinic)

Hans Schmid

Hans Schmid

Mary Nino

Mary Nino

Macrobiotic Institute of Portugal
Macrobiotic Institute of Portugal

Banner for Green Fest

Banner for Green Fest

 

No Comments | Tags: Events, Travel

Macrobiotic Institute in Valencia, Spain

Posted on by Denny Waxman
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Appetizer and Soup at Kimpira

Last week I traveled to Valencia, Spain to spend the week teaching at the Instituto Macrobiótico de España. My colleagues and good friends Patricia Restrepo and her husband Emilio Espi are the directors of the institute, Patricia is also the director Green Yoga,  housed in the same building.  Together, they co-founded the very modern and delicious organic restaurant, Kimpira, a block away.

 

Lunch at Kimpire

Lunch at Kimpira

IMG_1297Vegetarian Paella

IMG_1298

My Students for the Week Who Became My Friends

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Dinner at Casa Montaña with Patricia, Emilio and Their Daughter, Natalia. My Favorite Place

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Fidewa under the Full Moon

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At the Institute with Emilio and Patricia

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Fidewa- Thin Noodle Paella

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Emilio Enjoying Our Fidewa

Couscous at Kimpira

Couscous at Kimpira

No Comments | Tags: Events, Travel

A Follow Up on The China Study with a Testimonial

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I’ve recently received this story from a woman, Sheron, in response to my previous entry about T. Colin Campbell and her take on The Great Life Diet. Thank you, Sheron! She writes:

 

There is nothing better than the balance of a Macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. I am committed to following Macrobiotics for the rest of my life even if I have to spend every minute of it in the kitchen. And, the most helpful book to come along in a long time is your The Great Life Diet. […] So, I do agree with you that The China Study has the supportive nutritional facts, and you have the way to put it all together. You seem to have a way of expressing the facts of a balanced diet and lifestyle in an uncomplicated way. Of all the teachers I studied with, and those whose books I have read, your understanding and presentation of Macrobiotics is the one that I can easily understand and apply.”

 

I am glad hearing six years after its publication that The Great Life Diet  still applies to people’s lives today, despite how quickly popular opinion seems to change regarding eating. My intention in writing the book was to offer timeless, practical and accessible advice to those seeking diet and lifestyle guidance in a way that most other diet and lifestyle books cannot offer. It is now a time when the principles set forth in The Great Life Diet can come into more scientific consideration.

I’m just going to share some simple things with you in certain circumstances to help you get started on issues related to health and diet.

 

For those of you who are not going to change your diet, but have interest in improving overall health, consider:

1. Taking Time For Meals. Pause the activities of the day when you sit down to food.

2. Take Meals At the Same Time Everyday, Especially Lunch(which should begin no later than 1p.m.)

3.Get At Least a ½ Hour Of Activity Everyday(something as simple as walking suffices)

 

And for those of you just beginning the transition to a macrobiotic diet, here are two things that help to do immediately:

1.    Plan Meals Around a Grain and a Vegetable

2.    Start Eating Soup

 

I would like to thank Sheron again for offering such a heartfelt and honest response to my query regarding The China Study and its potential to provide the impetus to empirically explore the wisdom I have been sharing.

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Recommendations for PMS

Posted on by Denny Waxman

PMS is part of a cycle of hormones–expansions and contractions. Being aware of where you are in your cycle, what you’re eating and how you’re feeling as a result can guide you with managing PMS.

 During ovulation, hormones are causing contractions to release an egg.

The other half of the cycle, hormones are building and preparing for the shedding of the uterine lining. When there is an imbalance during the building process, it is largely related to eating foods which interfere with the hormones being produced and secreted.

 

Animal and dairy products interfere as do baked, toasted and salty foods. Non-animal dense protein such as seitan does as well. Over indulgence in sugar, alcohol and chocolate at this time interferes too, despite possible heavy cravings. Cravings(to be discussed in a future post) are sometimes the expression of the cause of our discomfort.

 

Try this regiment in your cycle and see if any of the symptoms associated with PMS are quelled. If results are not immediate, it may take two or three cycles to notice the effects as the body adjusts.

4-5 days before the onset of shedding, eliminate the above foods and focus on foods that are light and refreshing such as:

                        -boiled grains and pasta

-salads, steamed or lightly cooked greens and vegetables

  -light proteins such as beans

-fruits and mild sweets(malted barley, brown rice)

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet