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Japanese Macrobiotic Diet: Guide To Perfectly Balanced Meals

Japanese macrobiotic diet

Here’s a guide to Japanese macrobiotic diet so you can make perfectly balanced meals at home!

Keto, paleo, intermittent fasting in combination with Zumba, yoga, HIIT. If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to give you long-lasting results, try the Japanese macrobiotic diet. 

This is not just a diet, it’s a way of life. I love trying out different diets and getting to the root of them. So you can imagine just how intrigued I was with the Japanese macrobiotic diet. 

I started it and in just a few days I could see changes in how deeply and easily I fell asleep, how my mood improved and how I was feeling so much lighter and healthier. 

I’m going to break down the Japanese macrobiotic diet for you in this article, so read on:

Japanese Macrobiotic Diet: Everything You Need to Know

Yin and Yang in Food

Many Eastern philosophers believed that food is not just for the stomach or to just keep you alive. Like all elements, food also can be divided into “yin” and “yang” and must be consumed accordingly. 

Yin food is supposed to be light, refreshing and energetic whereas yang food helps you relax and makes you tired. Too much yang food can bring down your energy levels and this is precisely why there has to be a good balance of the foods. 

For example, all animal-based foods are considered yang. Imagine eating a meal heavy with animal protein. You know the next thing you want to do is crawl into bed and fall into a deep slumber! 

Examples of yin foods are all the leafy greens, fruits and grains. Even sugars fall under the yin category. Too much yin can also be harmful as the body cannot be high on energy all the time. 

Food has energy and when you consume the right kinds of food in the right balance, it will benefit your mind, body and soul. 

George Ohsawa was a Japanese philosopher who introduced the macrobiotic diet with the intention of getting people to lead a holistic life. 

It included meditation and exercise as well but food played the most important role. 

It goes without saying that regulating our diet and following a healthy lifestyle with good exercise and meditation can certainly reduce ailments and even help us recover from long term illnesses. The macrobiotic diet is one such holistic diet that helps achieve this. 

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What is a Macrobiotic Diet?

Like most healthy diets, the macrobiotic diet also involves procuring and consuming only organically grown seasonal produce. One of the most important thing about choosing the vegetables and fruits is that it should be locally grown. 

Let’s talk a bit about the idea behind eating only seasonal and locally grown produce. The Japanese believe that nature knows what our bodies require and gives us just that.

For example, peak summers are a time for water based fruit and vegetables. These grow in plenty and nothing quenches our thirst and keeps us hydrated like these. 

Once the weather cools down and the fall leaves are everywhere, root vegetables grow in plenty. These vegetables give us enough starch and warmth to keep our bodies toasty. 

The same applies to locally grown produce as well. Consume what 

The Japanese macrobiotic diet consists of:

  • Consuming 40-60% whole grains. This can include whole wheat, bran, buckwheat, barley, oats and brown rice
  • 20-30% of your food intake should include fruits and vegetables, making sure to choose from what’s in season
  • Include 10-25% plant protein such as beans and bean products. Here you can eat tempeh, tofu and miso. It’s quite common to see people eating seaweeds.

Over time, people have started including small quantities of certain other foods too like nuts, dried fruit, seeds, fermented vegetables and pickles. I have also seen some followers of this diet eat fish at times, though not regularly. 

Related: Are Japanese Rice Crackers Healthy?

Rules to be followed while on the Japanese Macrobiotic Diet

This Japanese diet comes with a set of rules that need to be followed for cooking the food and how to consume it:

  • Only eat when you’re hungry. The Japanese follow this strictly, and I guess this is the secret behind their slim physiques
  • Only drink when you’re thirsty. This is something that contradicts all the excessive “drink 3,4,5 litres of water a day” advice from around the world. Your body knows when water is required and it’s enough if you drink water when it indicates it’s thirsty
  • Filter or purify the water you use to drink or cook
  • Chew your food until it turns into a liquid inside your mouth. Are you one of those people who quickly gulp down their food? Time to slow down, chew your food until it turns soft, mushy and liquidy, and then swallow it
  • Do not use microwave ovens and electric stoves to cook your food. Food is to be cooked on a flame for it to be cooked the right way
  • Cook your food only in cookware of natural materials like wood, glass and china
  • Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, flavoured drinks and drinks with added sugar

Seems like a lot of rules and some of them take a bit of effort and time to get used to. But once you practice these, they become part of your life. There are some people who follow these rules very strictly and there are some who are more flexible depending on their living conditions, where they work and what is available to them. 

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Benefits and Disadvantages of the Japanese Macrobiotic Diet

So what results do you get from the macrobiotic diet and is it better than all the other diets out there? I would consider the macrobiotic diet to be a wonderful lifestyle adaptation if done right with the right proportions. 

Depending on what your goal is, you can adjust the quantities of the food and the exercise to achieve results. Being mainly plant based, the food is light on the stomach, easy to digest and eases many problems caused due to animal proteins. 

The diet has been known to bring down cholesterol levels and help regulate diabetes. It is also easier on the heart and brings down the chances of lifestyle based heart diseases. 

Another huge benefit from regularly following the Japanese macrobiotic diet is that it has been known to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer. 

This is also a diet that energises you well and makes you lighter on your feet. 

This diet is rich in carbs, which is something you should keep in mind. 

Those who are initially making the shift from their regular lifestyle and eating habits to a macrobiotic diet can potentially end up consuming way too many carbs, which is not good for the system. 

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A lot of newbies also realise that they end up putting on weight instead of losing it once they shift to the macrobiotic diet. This is only because they haven’t balanced different food groups correctly.  

Since the macrobiotic diet cuts out animal based foods, there might be a lack of certain nutrients. 

This may not have an effect immediately, but over time, a lack of vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, iron, etc which can be derived only from animal meat can show up in deficiencies. 

This might be more evident especially in young children, the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses. For this reason, no kind of restrictive diet is advised for children below 18 years of age. 

For the adults who want to follow this diet, there are ways to tackle this, so consult your nutritionist or your doctor before you start the diet. 

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How to Incorporate a Macrobiotic Diet in your Life

These days almost every ingredient can be found in your closest farmers market or organic supermarket. 

Go by the thumb rule that the Japanese macrobiotic diet is all about eating whole foods. Include fish, nuts, seeds and dried fruit occasionally, but with it, make sure you eat lots of “yin” foods as well to balance it out.

 A good place to start is by stocking up on brown rice and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, some starchy root veggies, and green beans. 

Tofu, tempeh and miso paste are all great additions to your pantry. Having these staples on hand will make your meal preps easy, quick and make the food taste absolutely delicious. 

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These even help satisfy meat cravings, especially for hardcore non-vegetarians making the shift. They are packed with nutrients, yet very light on the digestive system.

For beginners who might get bored and crave variety, try variants of your favourite noodles and kinds of pasta using whole wheat flour, chickpea flour or other grain flours like oat flour. 

The Japanese macrobiotic diet and lifestyle is something that can be successfully and satisfyingly followed for a healthy body and mind. 

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It is quite difficult when you start but the benefits are plenty, so don’t give up! Many seasoned followers suggest getting help from blogs, books and taking the advice of those who have been following this diet for years. 

There are also several classes you can take to learn about the diet and how to adapt to the lifestyle.

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