Modern macrobiotics: how to stay in good health (part IV)
Dress your kitchen
Roberto Marrocchesi, who became the first Italian to graduate from the Kushi Institute for Macrobiotics Studies in Boston in 1979, tells us how choosing a balanced diet of plant-based foods and whole grains can help us stay in top shape.
Roberto, what contribution can macrobiotics make today?
“The macrobiotic diet is the best possible curative diet, because it is truly balanced on the basis of the profound criteria of classic Chinese medicine. But it needs to come out of the ghetto where it has ended up, where ignorant people have put it. Today’s supermarkets have a very short shelf containing only five macrobiotic products: malt, shoyu, algae, umeboshi and miso. As if there were such a thing as a macrobiotic food! There’s food, and that’s all. Some food is healthy, and some is not.”
How much does diet affect our health?
“A lot! Though it would be more accurate to say that conscious choice of food affects our health, not food itself. It’s not the food’s fault, it depends on the person who chooses to eat it. Food is a material vehicle, but spirituality plays a role in choosing one food rather than another. The spiritual side comes before everything else, including dietetic issues. And in fact there are people who are long-lived and healthy on the whole, even though they don’t eat right. Our dietary choices can have an impact on our physical, mental and spiritual health. Our food feeds our dreams.”
What is the ideal composition of the daily macrobiotic diet?
“Our diet over the course of the day should be made up of about 40 percent whole grains, 25-30 percent cooked or raw vegetables, roots or leaves, preferably two different types, 10 to 15 percent plant protein, from legumes, soy products and occasionally seitan. The rest should be made up of fruit, condiments, spices and beverages. In addition to this, we should eat one or two bowls of miso soup every day. It’s important to include the five flavours - bitter, tart, sweet, spicy, salty – and get used to subtle flavours, avoiding excessive use of spices and condiments, which tend to make us overly emotional. This will free us from the desire for sweets. This is of course the ideal composition, but everyone can adjust that on the basis of their own needs. If we are in harmony with our true needs and not our sensory desires, we can vary the percentages instinctively.”
What are the key principles to follow to stay in good health?
“The natural order of the universe suggests that we eat a little less than we currently do in the west, and that we choose plant-based whole foods: less meat, cured meats, dairy products and eggs and less refined products such as white flour and sugar. To stay healthy, we can study the principles of classic Chinese medicine and the traditions of other ancient peoples, who ate a few, simple foods, in a spirit of gratitude toward nature. Food has its own energy, and when we cook it, we alter it, so we need to choose the right kind of cooking for our physical, mental and spiritual health. Food can help us become what we want to be.”