The Yin and Yang Of The Macrobiotic Diet

February 11, 2011

Diets & Nutrition

If you have been keeping tabs on all the Hollywood diets, chances are, you must have heard about the eating plan celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna are raving about: The Macrobiotic Diet.

The Macrobiotic Diet is a low-fat, high fiber eating plan that is predominantly vegetarian, with great emphasis on fiber-rich whole grains, vegetables and beans. Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa created the first macrobiotic diet based on the Japanese concept of yin and yang, which dictates that all food is considered to have both properties, with one dominating.

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Foods with yang qualities are considered compact, dense, heavy and hot; whereas food with yin qualities are described as expansive, light, cold and diffuse.

Guidelines of the Macrobiotic Diet

Diet guidelines are individualized based on factors such as climate, season, age, gender, activity and health needs.

  • Whole grains make up 50 to 60% of each meal. Whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat berries, barley, millet, rye, corn, and buckwheat.
  • Soups are allowed up to 2 bowls daily. Miso and shoyu, which are made from fermented soybeans, are commonly used.
  • Veggies make up 25 to 30% od the daily food intake, one-third of which should be raw. Otherwise, the vegetables should be steamed, boiled, baked or sauteed.
  • Beans make up 10% of the daily intake. This includes cooked beans or bean products such as tofu, tempeh and natto.
  • Animal products. A small amount of fish or seafood is allowed several times per week. Meat, poultry, eggs and dairy are discouraged from the menu.
  • Seeds and nuts are allowed in moderation, and they can be lightly roasted and salted.
  • Local fruit can be consumed several times a week, such as apples, pears, peaches and melons, but tropical fruits such as mango, pineapples and papayas are discouraged.
  • Cooking oil is typically unrefined vegetable oil, although dark sesame oil, corn oil and mustard seed oil are all allowed.

The Skinny

The goal of the macrobiotic diet is for the individual to become sensitive to the actual effects of foods on health and well-being, rather than just following dietary rules and regulations. The dietary guidelines, however, help in developing sensitivity and an intuitive sense for what sustains health and over all well-being.

For the proponents of The Marobiotic Diet, it isn’t just an eating plan, it’s a way of life. If you’re drawn to the concept of eating a natural, organic, plant-based diet and embrace a Zen-like spirituality in life and food selections, then the Macrobiotic Diet is exactly right for you.


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