I have been practicing macrobiotics for 22 years now
being the key word. My own experience has shown me that macrobiotic living is
a sensuous dance we do with nature, in an attempt to find that ever-illusive state
Many of us, me included, came to the practice
of macrobiotics as a result of a life-threatening
illness. Within that philosophy, the way we
chose to eat and live to regain health was quite
monastic and restrictive, in an attempt to cleanse
the body and recreate our vitality.
This extreme dietary approach can work quite
well, especially if practiced for a short period
of time, 2-3 months. The body has a chance to
cleanse and rejuvenate; our blood quality changes;
our organs begin to function normally again;
we can become the people that Mother Nature
intended us to be. And
if we choose it,
we can heal our bodies and recover from illness.
I have noticed
in my years in the macrobiotic community, however, that there are certain quirks
that have simply gained acceptance and are considered to be a part of the 'culture.'
I have always questioned them. What are they? Binge eating and wild cravings.
Now certainly, at the start of your practice, your body is somewhat shocked
(depending on how dramatically you alter your food choices) and cravings can be
expected as the body readjusts to new food. The body likes routine and habit and
upsetting that apple cart, even in a positive way, can create cravings for the
foods you have chosen to eliminate from your diet. With a little creativity, you
can cook to tame such cravings as your body heals.
Once you have adjusted,
however, binge eating and cravings should really play a much smaller role in your
days. Sure, we all have those times when we overdo a bit, but, on the whole, eating
well will leave you sated and contented most of the time, with cravings and binge
eating playing a role at the occasional party rather than in your daily life.
So how did binge eating and cravings become
such alarge and accepted part of the macrobiotic
it is a lack of understanding
of the food we choose to eat. Macrobiotic eating
is a beautifully balanced symphony of unprocessed,
seasonal foods, prepared in a manner appropriate
to your condition and lifestyle
If the food we eat is chosen from the wide array
of choices Mother Nature provides and prepared
deliciously, cravings and binge eating play
a minor role in your life, rather than serve
as the guiding factors in the choices you make.
It all begins with a change in thinking.
If you fall into the trap of trying to substitute
a healthier food for one that is less appropriate
for your condition, you set yourself up for
a life of binges and cravings, in my opinion.
In order to successfully transition to whole
foods and balanced eating, we need to see food
in a new light.
So what causes cravings anyway?
Our bodies, like Mother Nature herself, will
have balance and cravings are our bodies' way
of telling us that they are missing something,
wanting something, to make them feel balanced.
The more extreme our food choices, the more
extreme the cravings will be. As we change,
if we are eating a wide and varied diet with
proper amounts of carbohydrates, fats, proteins
and trace minerals, cravings will come and go
with little fanfare.
Many people come from a history of meat consumption
and miss that density of texture when they are
transitioning to a plant-based way of eating.
Bread becomes the substitute for that dense,
satisfying piece of something to 'sink your
teeth into.' And while whole grain breads are
deeply satisfying and delicious and not detrimental
to health, if you are trying to change your
body, bread, if over-eaten, can keep you stuck
where you are in your condition as can soy cheeses
and soy yogurts and other processed 'healthy'
versions of animal foods.
Instead, try some fried tempeh or tofu or very
spicy beans with salsa to tame these cravings,
with bread on occasion.
enjoy a diet laden with salty snacks and simple refined sugars. Cravings for these
foods can send you wild, but the good news is they are easily tamed. Sensible
use of good quality salts and grain sweeteners can keep these strong cravings
at bay while your body adjusts.
And that is just at the beginning of your
As the years pass, we can fall into the rut
of cooking the same dishes over and over, with
little variety and excitement. Or we fall into
the category of trying to maintain too monastic
a diet for too long. Cravings can tell us a
lot in these cases. Are salty chips, shoyu and
sea veggies becoming food groups instead of
little additions to your daily fare? Take a
look at your daily diet
you may be consuming
too much grain, too little salt and too much
soft food. Your palate craves some crunch for
stimulation and your blood craves minerals.
Are you rummaging through the kitchen for
a jar of nut butter at midnight and then eating
it by the spoonful? Take a look at your
fat and protein intake, based on your condition
and lifestyle. Simply sautéing with more
frequency or eating more beans, nuts and tofu
can satisfy your body's primal need for fat
and keep you well-nourished while eating less.
Remember that the large majority of our nutrients
are fat-soluble, meaning that they need fat
as the vehicle to transport them to your cells
Are sweets your
downfall? A tough one
but be honest with yourself
did you ever really
give up simple sugar; get it out of your system. If so, then take a look at your
salt intake, how much you pressure cook and long cook dishes. Sugar and sweet
taste help us to feel relaxed. If your diet is heavy, salty and restrictive, you
will have apple pies chasing you down the street in your dreams. Simply lightening
up your diet, adding some raw foods and including some good quality sweet taste
should do the trick.
And then there's tofu. At first, many of us
think it's a bad joke. We hate the texture; it has no flavor and it's boring.
But after some years of long cooking, contracted, salty foods, too much grain
and not enough light cooking, tofu seems like manna from heaven, especially for
men. With its cool and relaxing nature, it can feel like the perfect way to relax
tension. Take care with tofu, boys. You don't want to cool down and relax too
In short, macrobiotic living is a simply beautiful choice, if practiced
in a way that serves you in your life
not in some counselor's notes or a
philosophy book. Life is not theory; it's practice. So eat
how you feel and adjust accordingly. After all, the only expert on you and what
you need is
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Prescription for Radiant Health and Beauty
Christina Pirello is the inspiring Emmy
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Christina is the author of three best-selling
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At age 26, Christina was diagnosed with terminal
leukemia, and deciding to forgo conventional
medical therapies she turned to macrobiotics
and cured herself. Today Christina teaches whole
foods cooking classes and conducts lifestyle
seminars and lectures nationwide on the power
of food in our lives, in a variety of settings
- from natural food stores to corporate boardrooms
to Network TV.
No lives are left unchanged when she leaves