The Macrobiotic Diet
The Macrobiotic Diet
The macrobiotic diet and the MILF diet are essentially the same thing, without the slightly controversial (sexist) title.
So putting that can of worms firmly out of our minds we thought we’d take a look at the original macrobiotic diet not least because it’s favored by Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts and Madonna! Seeing as these celebs are all over forty and still look fifteen the macrobiotic diet has got to be doing something right.
The diet is supposedly less of a diet and more of a total dietary overhaul replacing lean meats, fatty foods and a lot of dairy products with a predominantly vegetarian, grain-based diet.
Originally thought up by Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa back in the twenties as part of a dietary philosophy that lives in harmony with diet, this is as a basis, much more than cutting out certain foods, it’s a way of thinking.
As well as this, according to Cancer Research UK the macrobiotic diet is followed by a lot of cancer patients as a complementary therapy and while it's not officially recommended, Dr Chidi Ngwaba, a leading Lifestyle Medicine Doctor says that the macrobiotic diet does have a lot of health benefits.
He says: “By eating whole grains, vegetables and fruits, the body gets exactly the right fuel and nutrients that it needs in the right proportions. Plus, as this diet is naturally low in fat it's also excellent for weight loss.”
So because there’s so much being said we took a look into what the macrobiotic diet actually involves, what you’d typically be eating and asked the experts their opinions on whether it really works – find out below!
How it works:
Typically the macrobiotic diet is simply a regime promoting a healthy, natural way of eating which in turn allows a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
This means anything that would not be seen as natural such as dairy products, convenience processed foods and lean meats are out of the question.
Instead foods like whole grains, vegetables, soy beans, soups and lentils are consumed in the majority. This totally eradicates the carbohydrates that come with pasta or the fats that come with meats meaning that you will lose weight pretty fast. Fish and nuts are also allowed in the diet on occasion, as well as desserts (which follow the natural guidelines).
If you’re wondering whether coffee is allowed, well no it’s not and neither is tea (excluding herbal, naturally), potatoes, chocolate, alcohol, very hot spices and poultry are also forbidden! Sad but true.
With the macrobiotic diet the way that you prepare your food should be ‘natural’ too. Essentially this means steaming, a lot. This diet is all about a zen-like balance between you and your food and for some it can be pretty extreme if taken seriously.
In the original 1920s diet created by Ohsawa, one of the phases was to only eat brown rice and water. As Rachel Hipkiss, Healthspan Director of Science and Nutrition says, this is not a great idea.
“Like all diets that exclude any major food it can be dangerous unless followed very carefully. Some enthusiasts restrict their macrobiotic diet to just rice and water, but this can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies,“ she says.
So like with many diets, it is best to follow the rules in moderation and keep your head on your shoulders.
“To eat a healthy macrobiotic diet requires careful planning and time to ensure that a balanced diet is achieved and that all micronutrients are included. Supplementation with calcium and a broad spectrum multivitamin and mineral would be advisable,” she continues.
As whole grains make up about 50-60% of each meal you’ll be eating a lot of brown rice, rye, buckwheat, quinoa, corn and lentils.
You’ll then make up about 25-30% of your daily food intake with vegetables which should be prepared by steaming or boiling or preferably eating them raw.
As well as this you’re allowed one to two bowls of soup a day. So we suggest maybe having a quick miso soup for breakfast and as a light snack.
On top of that you can bulk up the remaining 10% with beans like soy beans, natto or filliing tofu!
All foods like fish, low-fat meats excluding poultry, nuts and fruits can be used infrequently throughout the week.
Not only will you lose shedloads of weight from cutting out all of the things that contain fat and sugar but you will also have a new found respect for the healthier parts of your diet.
As you’re eating a lot of vegetables you’ll be eating a lot of things that are good for you including foods that are high in fiber, low in fat and full of protein.
What you are eating will have an added bonus of helping the environment and local businesses by funding organic produce - you will also know that the food you eat will be of good quality!
However, as you can see from the options available daily, your food intake is limited and unless you’re pretty gifted in the kitchen you can expect to get pretty frustrated or bored easily.
Unless you’re pretty clued up with what your body needs in terms of nutrients and fuel then we can see that you might actually miss out on some key ingredients that make up a balanced diet.
Because of the lack of protein, iron and calories you will probably feel quite listless too as your body is getting a lot less energy.
Plus with all the locally sourced, organic food you'll be eating, your weight might be going down but your bank balance sure won't be!
If you're considering going on this diet we suggest you contact your doctor or seek out a specialist macrobiotic nutritionist or practitioner to help you through it safely.
Find the right diet for you from our huge selection of diet plans in our comprehensive Diet A-Z.
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