Author- Ruth Dsouza
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a diet and perhaps that is why we have so many of them being advocated. Ideally, what you must look for in a diet is the well-being it assures you. A diet that ensures you to eat healthy, while not really giving up on the pleasures that good food can bring you. Perhaps, it’s time you gave the concept of Macrobiotics some thought.
Shonali Sabherwal, India’s first Macrobiotic Counsellor and chef, believes that Macrobiotics is more of a lifestyle than a diet. “The term diet brings up the imagery of being rigid and restrictive. However, the core principle of Macrobiotics is to give you the freedom to eat smartly,” she says.
The Macrobiotic lifestyle
The focus of the Macrobiotic diet is on grains. Generous amounts of grain along with lots of local and seasonal vegetables, forms the core of every meal in this diet. Does seem simple enough to follow, right? Well, an important tenet of Macrobiotics is that it completely eliminates dairy and its products from your life. Yes, contrary to popular belief, milk can work negatively on you. “Because after a point in life, our bodies are unable to break down milk,” explains Shonali.
The aim of the diet is to cleanse the blood and to remove clogs from years of unhealthy eating habits. A great diet can help not only with your health and well-being, but also makes you a well-rounded person. Your personality is bound to improve. Your diet must include fermented foods, starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and grains:
- Whole grains give you a sustained 8 hours of good sugar and helps you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Refined sugars can never do that.
- The proximity of plants to the earth and its energy will give you a sense of groundedness.
- Fermented foods like tofu will give you the digestive enzymes you need and help balance your pH levels.
- Legumes break down amino acids into dopamine, making you energetic.
The important thing about Macrobiotic food is that it can get very interesting. “It is a flexible diet,” says Shonali. Many diets propagate completely cutting out on carbs or proteins. Some advocate skipping meals, while others talk of liquid diets alone. Most of these approaches are not holistic and often do more damage than good. If you are in good general health, then Macrobiotics can make a world of difference to how you feel. All you need is to put in place a system of checks and balances. Even if you are ill, a stricter Macrobiotic diet can still help.
Admittedly, Macrobiotics is not easy, but the system definitely seems smarter. “Perhaps, a way to help people identify with the diet is to see that it has its principles in the Ayurvedic dictates of diet and the Sattvic style of food, but may be not as strict.” explains Shonali.
Macrobiotics is about eating right, to open out your energies and have them pulsate through you in the right manner. Dairy and sugar is taken away from you, as are flours. However, these are replaced with products that will assist your digestive process, just as always, except without the negative aspects.
Macrobiotics helps you deal with several lifestyle issues like hair fall, anxiety, the need for weight loss and more. “It even helps deal with cancer,” says Shonali, who also said that a complete remission is possible in two years of following the diet. Though the international medical community is yet to validate this, she does have some cases on hand to prove her point.
Macrobiotics, Shonali asserts, is about creating a template for yourself and working within it to help your body function ideally. And the other great part about it is that this is a diet for the non-vegetarians as well. The emphasis is more on fish, than on white meats like chicken.
Begin small with the system and work your way up. Here is a recipe of chickpea salad to start with.
Chickpea Salad Serves 4
- 1 onion diced
- 1 each of red, yellow and green bell pepper diced (remove skin of red pepper)
- 2 cups of cooked chickpeas
- 2 bundles buk choy, cut long and steamed
- Olives (optional)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- Grated zest of one lime and juice
- Sea salt to taste
- Get the ingredients together in a salad bowl
- Heat oil and add garlic. Remove from heat and whisk in balsamic vinegar, zest, lime juice and sea salt
- Toss into salad. Chill before serving.
Source: The Love Diet by Shonali Sabherwal (Random House India)