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Getting Started – What You Will Need January 31, 2009

THE basic starter kit for someone wanting to begin eating macrobiotically is not different from what you would need in any kitchen – the usual round of pots and pans, and cooking utensils. The main difference, though, is that for macrobiotics, we ask that the utensils be ‘clean’ ie, that they are not treated chemically, as are, for example, teflon coated pots and pans.

Apart from the cooking utensils, you will also need some foods which are not part of the average Asian diet.

Here is a list of things you will needs to get started:

Utensils:

Stainless steel or cast iron pots and a skillet

Claypots

Pressure cooker

Steamer – for cooking and for re-heating food.

Chef’s knife and a paring knife

Bancha twig tea is the aqua vitae of the macrobiotic world!

Bancha twig tea is the aqua vitae of the macrobiotic world!

Foundation foods:

Kombu & Wakame

Other sea vegetables – arame, hijiki, agar agar (or kanten)

Sea salt (as dirty-looking as possible, for these contain the highest content of natural minerals)

Shoyu or tamari

Bancha twig tea

Medium or long-grain brown rice

And that’s it. You will probably add to this as you begin to cook different foods. And if you are already an avid cook, then you would probably already have most of the tools you need.

One last thing. Macrobiotics is about TRUTH – being true to your body and yourself. Don’t feed yourself food which is not ‘true’ – ie overfertilised, over-hormonised, over-chemicalised food. While our bodies were built to last, the assumption is that we would co-operate and feed them with fuel that they know and understand.

Chemicals which are not naturally occuring in the ground, but which have been added to it to increase crop yield, are not something our bodies ever thought they would have to deal with. And so, they may react in ways unanticipated – for example, through uncontrolled, abnormal cellular growth.

I recommend trying to eat organically as much as possible. And if not, try to get the best quality possible (ie, grown with good, reliable farming practices). It might cost a little more – but ultimately, it is still alot cheaper than any medical bills you might have to pay for chronic illnesses which arise out of poor eating habits.

I will say now that I avoid all foods from China, as much as possible. But the farming practices there are not reliable. And given the number of food scares coming out of China over the past years, TRUTH is something that is not yet established in its farming industry.

Having said that, I also acknowledge that it is cheaper, generally, to buy from China. So, if you must buy your food from China, I encourage you to soak all your vegetables (from China and elsewhere) for 20 minutes before use to leech out any chemicals. If you wish, you can add a few drops of apple cider vinegar to the soaking water to strengthen the leeching process. But beware, not too much or you might end up with a pickle!

 

The Macrobiotic Diagnosis

Filed under: Macro-chat,What is Macrobiotics? — purecommunicationspr @ 4:45 pm
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When I speak to people of macrobiotics and its ability to help support the body as it heals itself, I find they zoom right to the last chapter and say: so, what should I eat to heal my diabetes/cholesterol problem/cancer/asthma…and so on.

The fact is that macrobiotics is not just an easy fix for health issues. It takes more than popping a few ume plums, and calling me in the morning. The typical macrobiotic diagnostic process is an fairly extensive one, where I seek to understand my clients in their various contexts – work, family, friendships, lovers, enemies. Their loves, their hates. Their dreams and their nightmares. Their highest aspirations. Their deepest fears. The extensive questionnaire which takes at least 2 hours to complete looks at:

1. The emotional state, current and potential

2. The personality, – his ideals, views of life, his character

3. The constitution – both physical and mental

4.  History of ailments suffered, past and present

5. Recommendations – what changes must be made (diet, lifestyle, outlook) to bring the person back to health

6. What highest aspirations (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) can be aimed for to achieve happiness

7. Encouragement – what support is required for the person to develop his or her endless possibility to achieve happiness

So you see, it is never just a matter of the physical with macrobiotics. It is a holistic view of health that the macrobiotic counsellor strives for, for the benefit of the client. And because it is such an involved process, I feel that it is important to cultivate in the client a sense of excitement and interest about the journey they are about to embark on when they begin macrobiotics. So I work with the whole person, not just with their pancreas, or their liver, or their spleen. Everything the person is and everything they want to be is in the frame and must be considered for a proper diagnosis.

This is why, when macrobiotics is applied well, words such as ‘hope’ and ’empowerement’ and ‘healing’ come to be associated with the practice.And also why when I talk to my patients, I sometimes simply ask: how do you feel? The field is open for a response – unhappy, depressed, fantastic, full of energy. All of these are the symptoms that have to be considered. And sometimes, I don’t recommend food. I simply ask people to wake up earlier, and take a walk just as the sun is rising, breathing deeply and slowly of the fresh morning air, as they move through the early morning silence. Sometimes just eating the food is not enough and one needs to access other healing aids, such as simple nature.

As I practice macrobiotics, I am continually being made to feel awe at the wonder of the human body and its ability to find  what it needs to heal itself. The body is hard wired to heal itself and if we just gave it half a chance, it could do just that. The trick is to be able to understand what your body needs, and why.

This is the other part of the counselling process – to help people understand enough of macrobiotic theory to be able to adapt elements of macrobiotics to suit their needs as they heal, and their bodies become stronger. To empower and equip them to work with their own bodies for the rest of their lives for better health – and stronger living, on every level.

 

What Macrobiotics Means to Me July 22, 2008

Filed under: What is Macrobiotics? — purecommunicationspr @ 2:37 pm

Macrobiotic Precepts – My Pillars of Practice

1. Intregration

Nature has her ways

Nature has her ways

When our emotional, spiritual and physical elements are out of kilter, it is manifested on the physical plane.

When we are out of balance on any of these levels, our physicality does not feel right somehow and this could manifest itself in a number of ways – aches, pains, fatigue. Or we might exhibit behaviours directed at making us feel better, such as eating more sweet deserts, or more fatty foods – comfort foods.

In the wider scheme of things, the macrobiotic diet and practice of a macrobiotic lifestyle integrates us with our environment, our society. We live in accordance to laws and needs of the larger world and find ourselves a valued, contributing member of our world. Respect for other living beings, human and animal, as well as the environment and the natural order is part of this.

Translation to macrobiotic practice:

• Minimising or avoiding meat consumption
• Avoiding genetically modified food, including vegetables cultivated with chemicals and steroids
• Eating traditionally, as our ancestors did, putting whole foods at the centre of our diet, with occasional consumption of fish and minimal consumption of chicken, poultry, beef, lamb and other red meat
• Cooking with natural gas or wood stoves, rather than electrical appliances
• Wearing natural fibres as opposed to artificial fibres

2. Yin and Yang

When we are more yin or more yang, our physical health is not optimal.

When our physical body is not in balance it makes it very difficult for us to remain centred and balanced in our thoughts and emotions. A strong yang condition e.g. too much meat, makes us very susceptible to anger, aggression, intolerance, impatience etc. A very yin condition makes us susceptible to being weak-willed, gullible, spineless, absent-minded and impractical.

When we are out of balance, we are unable to live optimally, or to live a large life. A lack of balance limits us.

Translation to macrobiotic practice:

• Eating foods at the centre of the yin/yang continuum, and avoiding extreme foods such as meat
• Balancing yin or yang foods according to health condition
• Balancing yin or yang foods according to climate

3. Gratitude

When we give thanks for our physical, emotional and spiritual condition (whether positive or negative), we recognize it, and begin to heal ourselves.

Besides diet, macrobiotics includes a whole way of living, including physical exercise, the diagnosis and natural healing of unbalanced physical conditions, a good balance in ecology and the environment, art, recreation and spirituality. For instance, one of its most important principles is appreciation or gratitude, which brings freedom and happiness.

Many rich people have been unhappy, depressed and even committed suicide. Macrobiotics encourages appreciating absolutely everything, including pain and disease. Why? Because experiences are our real teachers and they help us to see our weaknesses, so that we can take corrective action to get back into harmony with nature. Once we are in harmony with our environment, we are on a path towards natural healing.

Gratitude opens you to positive, healing energy; complaining in thoughts or words blocks and drains the flow of energy.

Translation to macrobiotic practice:

• Start each day with a prayer of gratitude for abundance in our lives
• Review each day our blessings
• Seek the way of peace when confronted with behaviour choices

Tranquility is a by-product of macrobiotics

Tranquility is a by-product of macrobiotics

5. Mindfulness

Being mindful and in the present means being in touch with our bodies, and learning to ‘hear’ what it needs.

Macrobiotics is living, eating, and taking care of yourself mindfully. We make our food choices consciously and thoughtfully. It is this deliberateness in planning and preparing our meals that keeps our awareness of balance in the forefront. Through a range of physical activity, including massage and exercise, we pay attention to breathing and body condition thus contributing to mindfulness.

Translation to macrobiotic practice

• Eat our food with mindfulness, concentrating on taste and chewing, as well as our body’s reaction to the food consumed.
• Prepare food with mindfulness, where slicing and chopping attains a rhythmic cadence

5. Empowerment

Macrobiotics is about giving individuals the power of choice, power over their health and well being.

The macrobiotic practice is a difficult one and sometimes, antisocial. But those who pursue it and commit to it find benefits beyond expectation. They eat more healthily, according to generally accepted health guidelines which emphasise more servings of vegetables and whole grains every. The success of the diet results in an empowered individual who is conscious of her strength, both of character, mind and heart. It underlines the power of the individual to choose a lifestyle that supports healthy mind, heart and bodies.

It takes the opposite approach to one where responsibility for health rests solely with doctors, rather than ourselves.

Translation to macrobiotic practice:

• Adjusting diet according to whether or not the body’s condition is yin or yang
• Employing macrobiotic home remedies
• Going to the root cause of illness and deploying a holistic healing approach rather than a purely confrontational approach which treats the symptoms