I’m Harriet, and as part of my new position as Event Coordinator Emma suggested I write today’s party planning blog. I’ve never written a blog before, but I’ve helped with Emma’s and I wrote a lot of essays in college. Emma told me just to make sure it’s in a conversational style, like I’m talking to a friend, so I just wanted to say hi and let you all know how excited I am to have so many new friends to talk to.
Right now we’re planning an engagement party and the couple requested a Macrobiotic menu. I honestly wasn’t sure exactly what that entails so I had to do a lot of research on the subject. It’s based on a concept of balance, and both more and less complicated than I originally understood. Then I thought, if I wasn’t sure what it was, I bet a lot of other people weren’t either. Which is a shame because it’s pretty fascinating once you get started. So here’s the basics on how to arrange a macrobiotic meal.
Macrobiotic, as it’s commonly practiced in the US, is of Japanese origin, and the word translates as “great life” or “big life”. One of the most popular versions was designed by a Japanese army doctor named Sagen Ishizuka. who lost a lot of family members to poor health and was diagnosed with several serious conditions himself. His theory was that if you kept your body in it’s best condition it would be able to heal and overcome any obstacle. Even with a dramatic backstory like that the idea was never to overcome death, but to live the best quality of life possible. Which I think is a really good way to look at things.
It’s a lot about balance and working with nature instead of against it. For instance you are encouraged to eat only natural, organically grown foods and only in season (meaning nothing canned, dried, frozen, or preserved in any way). To be honest, this sounds a lot like the food in our office. Or another way to think of it is time travel. Back before refrigerators, freezers, processing or the ability to easily travel long distances, this is how everyone ate.
Another part of the theory is the balance of yin and yang. When I first read that I completely misunderstood. To me a balance of yin and yang meant two opposite qualities, or two extremes, in equal measure which together balanced each other out. A kind of opposites attract. Turns out, at least as far as a Macrobiotic diet, that is totally wrong. Extremes of any kind are discouraged, and the balance is more about eating foods that fall in neutral territory. If that makes as little sense to you as it did to me, forget the wording and try to picture a scale or a ruler. At one end is yin, at the other yang, and you want to eat anything that falls in the middle.
Some examples of Yin are – white sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, dairy, pasta, bread and tropical fruits
Some examples of Yang are – red meat, salt, poultry, and eggs.
Balance also refers to the portions on your plate. This is a diet that’s main course is whole grains which should make up 40% to 60% of your plate. Next comes vegetables, mostly green, and again should be local, organic, and in season. This should be 25% to 30% of your plate, and up to ⅓ can be raw but the rest should be cooked. Seaweed and “sea vegetables” are very popular options year round. Legumes or possibly tofu makes up 5% to 10% for protein. Last, include a probiotic, usually a pickled vegetable, to aid in digestion. A macrobiotic diet also includes eating a lot of soup, at least two cups a day, commonly a vegetarian broth with vegetables, grains, and legumes or tofu. For this Miso soup is an incredibly popular choice.
Use sparingly, no more than three times a week – fish, nuts, seeds and non-tropical fruit.
Try never to use – animal products including meat, eggs, and dairy. Processed or unrefined foods. Heavy spice, sugar, caffeine or alcohol. Foods containing chemicals, preservatives, dyes, or insecticides.
Go with the Flow
For all it’s specifics, Macrobiotics is not just a way to eat but a lifestyle. It’s about being one with nature, and keeping your body running smoothly. So when creating a meal there are many factors that could cause you to alter your plan accordingly. Such as the season, the climate, how much exercise you get, if you are a man or woman, your age, and your state of health. I like this part the best because it recognizes that we are not all the same, and not even the same as we were a month ago, but it still encourages us to be the best version of ourselves.
Even if following a macrobiotic lifestyle is a little too overwhelming for me to personally take on right now, I’d like to think I can try to follow it in spirit when making choices in my life. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it as much as I did learning about it, and thanks for reading!