October 14, 2009

Macrobiotic Week! Part II

Greetings from this second installment of my self-proclaimed Macrobiotic Week! You can find Part I here, in which I explored the guidelines and philosophy surrounding the macrobiotic diet. It’s fascinating! Tonight I’d like to touch on the potential benefits of macrobiotic.

Before I go on, I do want to make it clear that I am not “following” a macrobiotic diet, per se. Consider this exploration another one of my experiments—it’s all a part of the Radventure! Besides, any long-time friends/readers know me well enough to know that I avoid set diets, –isms and labels like el plague-o. I’m just noshing on what floats my epicurious boat, as usual!

To that end, Souen floats my boat quite nicely, thank you. In fact, it’s the only proclaimed macrobiotic restaurant that I know of…anywhere! What’s more, they serve organic fare at extremely reasonable prices. Can’t ask for more than that. Or this:

souen 2

The “pick 3” lunch special is less than $10 and gives you a choice of their menu staples. On this outing, I chose steamed vegetables with a tahini dressing (there’s that tahini again!), hiziki seaweed and a maki roll that I’m sure was called “Dragon” or something similar.

souen 1

My dining companion was an old friend from college, and apparently, the fish sandwich gets two lanky thumbs up!

souen 3

So, about those “benefits.” A 10-second Google search on “macrobiotic diet benefits” will yield link upon link suggesting a wealth of anecdotal evidence that the macrobiotic diet can reduce the risk of cancer or other serious diseases. In fact, I have yet to read a search result that does not associate the macrobiotic diet with “curing” cancer. I’m using a lot of quotation marks here because there is not enough evidence to support a claim one way or the other.

You (or your parents) may recall that the macrobiotic diet went through a period of greater popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s. This period followed the development of the diet itself as well as various books and accounts of people having cured themselves of cancer or whathaveyou by following a macrobiotic diet.

Personally, I think it’s possible. For a person who previously followed the Standard American Diet (SAD), upgrading the eats to the cleanliness of macrobiotic is going to make a big difference. But the point is not that they’re now eating things like seaweed and miso and becoming healthier because of the foods on the macrobiotic diet—they’re becoming healthier because of what’s NOT in their diet. I heard Gil Jacobs speak on cleansing again tonight (and Gena, too!), and for me, this particular point hits home.

It seems to me that any results of eating macrobiotic could actually be considered the effect, not the cause, of improved health. If one decides to follow the principles of macrobiotic, s/he has already made a decision to get well. The cause of the improved health is the fact that s/he is no longer consuming refined grains/sugar, meat, or anything else discouraged by the macrobiotic diet. That person is now existing at a cleaner, higher level of health by taking the first step of abstaining from that which made them ill (or just toxic) in the fist place.

So that is my brief-ish answer to what I perceive to be the primary benefit of eating (and living) macrobiotic. If I’d had the patience, I might have discovered arguments both for and against the diet, whether it's improved-this or deficient-that. As far as myself and this blog are concerned, those kind of factoids miss the point. Quite simply, if macrobiotic foods appeal to you and would be an improvement upon your current diet, it might be worth considering, especially if there is an illness involved.

Soapbox aside, let’s ogle some eats, yes?

Tiny eggplants, yes?

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Tiny kabocha squash, yes?



Tiny eggplant and kabocha yin-ing and yang-ing in delicious harmony all the way to my belly?


Si. Oui. Hai. Dui. Ja. Aloha? Etc.

Roasties have my heart forever and ever: simple kabocha squash, eggplant and carrots tossed in coconut oil, sea salt and pepper and roasted at 450* for 25 minutes or so.

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Other rockstars on this plate include mashed black beans, kale salad and arame.


I bet you’ll never guess what was in the dressing! Hint: it wasn’t tahini!


I lied. It was tahini. :) Ta-HEAB-ie, to be more specific. Heather shared this dressing recipe on her blog during her tahini week and it was just the right kick in the pants that I needed to get to the store and pick up the darn stuff. And what a delicious dressing it is! No blender required, just a few moments of whisking. It would have jazzed up a much plainer plate of veggies than what I had in the pictures above, believe me!

But how did this meal stack up against the guidelines of macrobiotic? Well, looking at the Five Elements from yesterday’s post, I’ve got it all covered! Whereas I lacked metal in the Asian Fusion Oatmeal concoction, the above meal contained baked food, which is a cooking method represented by that very element. Two points for Diana! My body’s systems feel so very well supported and balanced. :)

That’s all I have for Macrobiotic Week today, but check in tomorrow for Part III—I’ll be sharing my quickest, easiest homemade macrobiotic meal yet!

So what do you think of the macrobiotic diet’s benefits? Might it have a placebo effect where disease is concerned? Or is it the cure for cancer?


VeggieGirl said...

I think that the Macrobiotic can work for some, but not for others - everything is different for everyONE :)

The Candid RD said...

If I had cancer, I would go on a macribiotic diet, for sure. I really think the benefits are real. I do agree that most of the health comes from what you may NOT be eating, rather than what you are eating, and I'd probably still do Chemo or something, maybe...but I HAVE heard stories (of people I know) from those with cancer who used a macrobiotic diet and it actually worked to cure their cancer!

Those eggplants are tiny! So cute.

I'm following you on Twitter :)

Heather said...

I agree with VeggieGirl - it can work for some, for sure. I agree with a lot of the ideas and benefits of macro, but I know that it doesn't work for me because my body does not want me to eat 60% grains or something like that. I think in general, a healthier and more plant-based diet can help battle disease because it builds your immune system up. Have you checked out Meg Wolff's site? She credits a macrobiotic diet for saving her life from cancer.

Gena said...

I love, love, love the macrobiotics. And agree that it's the ideal diet for many. Lauren of Ginger is the New Pink has been doing a lot more, and I also really love Meg Wolff's site.

Beautiful food, D!

Erica said...

ahhhhhh those tiny egg plants are soooo cute! I want them.

Have squash for bfast! Josh said it tasted like pancakes with the syrup

Bekah said...

Hi Diana! Just came across your blog- I really like your outlook on eating, in fact- I might even start calling myself a flexitarian. What a simple, but true idea. :)
Your eats look so yum- borrowing ideas as I type. I look forward to more posts!

Diana said...

Bekah -

Thanks, and welcome! Glad you enjoy the eats round here. :)

Jenny said...

you never seize to hook me up with mad foodie info -- I never knew what a macrobiotic diet entailed until now. Thank you for making me a little bit smarter, and a lot hungrier :)