The raw food diet has a different perspective from the macrobiotic diet when it comes to eating food raw or cooked. While raw foodies suggest that we should always eat food raw, macrobiotic people suggest we should mostly cook food since eating raw food can be too yin.
Which should we listen to?
Well, that is what I am going to talk about in this series, so stick around.
My name is Sachiaki Takamiya and I am the author of IKIGAI DIET: The Secret of Japanese Diet to Health and Longevity. I have also written books called IKIGAI BUSINESS: The Secret of Japanese Omi Merchants to Find a Profitable, Meaningful, and Socially friendly Business, and Zen and a Way of Sustainable Prosperity: A Teaching of Omi Merchants Who Thrived In 18th Century Japan. I help people lead a lifestyle to stay healthy, conduct a business that you can enjoy and benefits society at the same time, and be successful at your mission so that you can grow spiritually, as well.
Recently I have been eating a lot of fruit partly because I became interested in raw food, but also fruit happened to gather around our house. My mother in law brought the watermelon and pear, the figs and melon were sold at the local vegetable section of the supermarket everyday for reasonable prices, 14 figs for 398 yen, which is unbelivable considering the price of fruit in Japan. That shows the fact that these fruits are in season now.
I tried making a salad with more vegetables, too. Before I made a salad with cucumbers, tomatoes red onions and lettuce, you know the regular salad, but these days, I have been making a salad with raw carrots, raw green peppers, avocados and figs on top of the regular ingredients.
Meantime, I have been watching a lot of Youtube videos on raw food.
But other than that, I don’t have any experience with the raw food diet. I didn’t know about it until two weeks ago, and in the last 56 years I have not been on a raw food diet: I hardly ate fruit as I told you before, and I did eat salads here and there especially in the summer time, but mostly I ate heated food, whether they are boiled, fried, cooked, steamed, or pressure-cooked.
What is a macrobiotic diet?
Again, here is an explanation from the wikipedia.
The macrobiotic diet is associated with Zen Buddhism and is based on the idea of balancing yin and yang. The diet proposes 10 plans which are progressed through to reach a supposedly ideal yin/yang ratio of 5:1. The diet was popularized by George Ohsawa in the 1930s and subsequently elaborated by his disciple Michio Kushi. Medical historian Barbara Clow writes that, in common with many other types of alternative medicine, macrobiotics takes a view of illness and of therapy which conflicts with mainstream medicine.
Macrobiotics emphasizes locally grown whole grain cereals, pulses (legumes), vegetables, seaweed, fermented soy products and fruit, combined into meals according to the ancient Chinese principle of balance known as yin and yang. Whole grains and whole-grain products such as brown rice and buckwheat pasta (soba), a variety of cooked and raw vegetables, beans and bean products, mild natural seasonings, fish, nuts and seeds, mild (non-stimulating) beverages such as bancha twig tea and fruit are recommended.
Some Macrobiotic proponents, including George Ohsawa, stress the fact that yin and yang are relative qualities that can only be determined in a comparison. All food is considered to have both properties, with one dominating. Foods with yang qualities are considered compact, dense, heavy, hot, whereas those with yin qualities are considered expansive, light, cold, and diffuse. However, these terms are relative; “yangness” or “yinness” is only discussed in relation to other foods.
Brown rice and other whole grains such as barley, millet, oats, quinoa, spelt, rye, and teff are considered by macrobiotics to be the foods in which yin and yang are closest to being in balance. Therefore, lists of macrobiotic foods that determine a food as yin or yang generally compare them to whole grains.
Nightshade vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant; also spinach, beets and avocados are not recommended or are used sparingly in macrobiotic cooking, as they are considered extremely yin. Some macrobiotic practitioners also discourage the use of nightshades because of the alkaloid solanine, thought to affect calcium balance. Some proponents of a macrobiotic diet believe that nightshade vegetables can cause inflammation in the body and osteoporosis.
As I told you before, I used to follow the macrobiotic diet, so I have some experience with this diet.
From my understanding, too, there are a lot of things that the macrobiotic diet and the raw food diet don’t go well together.
I said that macrobiotic people regarded raw food to be too yin. This is more so for tropical fruit. They don’t want to eat them from the point of view of Shindofuji, which means eating food locally and in season. If you live in the temperate zone like most European countries, North America, and East Asian countries, you can’t grow fruit like bananas and pineapples. Therefore they are not locally available.
If your raw food salad includes tomatoes, green papers and avocados, they are not recommended as they are considered extremely yin.
Brown rice and the balance of food you eat
Macrobiotic people regard brown rice to be the most balanced food, so if your raw food diet doesn’t include brown rice because you have to cook it to eat, they think that would be the most outrageous idea. If your raw food diet consists of 70% fruit and vegetables and no grains, it will be very different from macrobiotics, since it recommends that you should eat,
Well-chewed whole cereal grains, especially brown rice: 40–60%
Beans and legumes: 5–10%
Miso soup: 5%
Sea vegetables: 5%
Traditionally or naturally processed foods: 5–10%
In macrobiotics, chewing is one of the most important principles, and it recommends that you should chew about 100 times. If you drink a lot of smoothies, you probably don’t chew so much, which means you don’t produce enough saliva to help you conserve digestive enzymes.
These are some of the reasons why the macrobiotic diet doesn’t agree with raw food. However, I don’t necessarily agree with macrobiotics since Ikigai diet is also different from the macrobiotic diet. So what do I think of the raw food diet then?
That will be the discussion for the next time.
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