Devil's Advocate--Macrobiotics ~ Mountain Mama

Monday, June 07, 2010

Devil's Advocate--Macrobiotics

Before I eliminated meat from my diet, I did a whole lot of research to make sure I wasn't doing something really stupid to my health just to prove a point.

I'm now exploring vegan which has led me to several variations on the theme.

I started with macrobiotics. I'll admit, I was researching the idea of losing weight with a macrobiotic diet because I know a few people who have done that very thing. What I found was a diet centered on whole grains and vegetables with beans and non-tropical fruits rounding out the meal--sounds okay so far.

Fundamentally it's yin vs yang. The closer your food is to the center of the yin/yang scale, the more balanced you'll be. Foods that fall to the extremes (sugar, dairy, eggs, tobacco, alcohol and drugs) tend to rock the boat a little too much.

As does, for some inexplicible reason,* spinach and chard, my two favorite greens.

Upon learning this little factoid I curled up into a fetal position on the couch, effectively making my own yin/yang symbol. Except I had a pint of Coffee Heath Bar and a spoon. At that moment Ben was Yin and Jerry was Yang and I was cursing a diet that felt spinach was a no-no. Maybe ice cream and spinach cancel each other out.

More to the point, is there any sound research out there that says eat whole grains because they are only slightly yin...or is it yang? How do you scientifically determine a food's yangness?

To me, the core foods of the macrobiotic diet seem sound but the reasoning is a little too Eastern for me. Not that Eastern is bad, it's just that I'm a product of European ancestry. I practice yoga because I like trying to do contortions (whew! Glad that's off my chest) and I will eat whole grains because they taste...right.

But it's not enough to convince me to be vegan.

*I know. It's the oxalic acid. Whatever.


  1. The only thing I truly understand about macrobiotics is that you essentially become a slave to food. Because you are limiting your food to a select few, you really have to make sure you are getting vital nutrients.

    I know your biology background and your penchant for order, but the few people I knew who were vegans were very ill in short time. I'm not saying it can't be done, but humans by nature have both plant chewing teeth as well as meat tearing teeth—we thrive on fish and fish oils as well as nut oils. Nutrition is a slippery slope, eh?

  2. Regina8:04 PM

    ohhhh boy...yes, I'm struggling with these same kinds of questions...and today I caved to pizza. One week fully raw was all I could the concept and am trying to get back to basics...but felt so in the heck are you supposed to eat a raw BEET??? and I'm sorry...cheese, for me, is non-negotiable ;) All in moderation right?

  3. I don't know a thing about macrobiotics, but it does seem like any diet that eliminates something as healthy as spinach can't really be that balanced. And what on earth is wrong with tropical fruits? Even if it is higher in sugar than other fruit, it's still fruit, and it's still good for you in moderation.

    Is it possible to go vegan without doing the macrobiotic thing? I mean, really, how do you decide which foods are "extreme"? Different cultures eat a giant variety of different things, and most cultures uncontaminated by processed, refined foods enjoy excellent health (at least as far as it's diet-related), whether they're living on whale blubber (Inuits), coconut oil (Polynesians), or beef and blood (some African tribes). Ancestry and evolution have given us all different dietary sensitivities, and I am wary of any diet claiming that it is how "all people should eat."

    Geez, if you can't eat beef, spinach, or eggs, how in the name of heaven do you not become anemic?


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