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Macrobiotic diet - not strict, not a diet

The macrobiotic diet is widely seen as a "strict" or restrictive diet.

No. No. No. It is not even a fixed diet to begin with, but merely a set of dietary guidelines.

As for it being "strict", my friends and I started eating a much wider variety of foods after we learned about macrobiotic philosophy and the macrobiotic diet.

Sure, there are certain foods that we are advised to minimise or avoid - like meat, milk, sugar and processed foods containing food chemicals. Because these are commonly eaten foods, it seems at first that there is "nothing" left to eat.

But we are introduced to much much more and our food choices widen considerably. For example, instead of just eating rice, we eat other grains like barley, millet, wheat, etc.

Even when it comes to rice, we are introduced to lots more varieties of rice - long, medium and short grain, brown rice, red rice, black rice, glutinous or sweet / sticky rice, etc. How can a diet be "strict" when there are so many foods to eat?

In any case, those foods on the "avoid" list are for people who wish to recover from serious diseases like cancer. If you are a healthy person, you need not follow the macrobiotic diet too strictly.

What you will discover, however, is that when you get used to eating good quality, healthy and natural foods, you will not enjoy the common "junk" foods anyway.

Eating healthily then becomes a positive lifestyle choice - something you want to do, not something you have to force yourself to do.

Macrobiotic dietary guidelines

The macrobiotic diet might be presented as follows:

One of the most important things to understand about this so-called "macrobiotic diet" is that it is NOT a fixed diet plan. Instead, it is a set of guidelines - which we are to adapt depending on our health condition, environment and other factors.

For example, some people should eat more grains, others should eat more vegetables. Some should eat more green, leafy vegetables, some should eat more "round" vegetables that grow near the ground, or root vegetables that grow straight downwards.

Some should eat more well-cooked foods, others should eat more lightly-cooked and raw foods. Some need a stronger salty taste, some need a lighter taste.

And so on... Within these very general guidelines, there are endless variations to suit different people faced with different circumstances.

This is the chief reason why the marobiotic diet is healthy. Macrobiotics does not recommend that everyone eats the same things but that we should adapt our diets to what suits us.

In contrast, practically all other diet plans recommend that all people eat the same foods. Or, at best, they recommend that different groups of people eat different types of food - eg we are to eat according to our blood types, or, in the Ayurvedic tradition, according to whether our body type is Pitta, Kappa or Vata.

These diet plans do not consider, for example, that a person with Blood Type A living in the tropics might have to eat differently from another Blood Type A person living in a cold, temperate climate.

Or that a person might have to change his diet if his condition or environment changes. According to macrobiotic diet guidelines, the foods that are good for you today may not be good for you next week, next month or next year. We need to keep adapting.

Adapting the macrobiotic diet

Unfortunately, the need for constant adaption also makes the diet somewhat difficult.

Beginners would do well to seek the advice of a macrobiotic counsellor. At the same time, they need to deeply study the principles of yin and yang so that they know how to adjust their diets accordingly. Once a person has been eating well for some years, however, that person will also develop good intuition. Eating healthily then becomes more of an automatic response rather than having to study, think and plan.

Broad principles

The good news, however, is that even if you do not get your "macrobiotic diet" 100 percent right, you can expect some major improvements in your health simply by following the broad principles of macrobiotic eating. The principles may be summarised as follows:

Theory and practice

Following a macrobiotic diet, then, requires a good understanding of macrobiotic theory and philosophy as well as daily practice. Click here to read more about marcobiotics and the macrobiotic diet.

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