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Macrobiotic Diet

Level of Effort: High

The macrobiotic diet will take consistent effort, but it's more flexible than it may seem. Depending on your choices, you can start slow, moving from one level of intensity to the next.

Because macrobiotics is as much a philosophy of life as it is a diet, the effort it takes largely depends on how deeply you choose to delve into the diet, and on a larger scale, the philosophy or spiritual system behind it.

Chewing each mouthful of food at least 50 times is standard macrobiotic practice. So is pausing to express gratitude for your food before you eat it. This plan also recommends that you eat two to three times a day and stop before you're full.

Cooking and shopping: Foods are mostly baked, broiled, or steamed. Some devotees avoid cooking with electricity, and use pots, pans, and utensils made from naturally occurring materials, like glass. But if you’re not ready to count your chews, say thanks, or cook in a clay pot, the major effort with a macrobiotic diet is finding locally grown food. And, of course, the time to make it all from scratch.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: Regular exercise is encouraged.

Does It Allow for Restrictions/ Preferences?

Vegetarians and vegans: The classic macrobiotic diet is pescatarian (meaning it allows you to eat fish) as well as being low-salt and low-fat, but you can easily modify it to make it vegetarian or vegan. You'll need to make sure your nutritional needs are met, including vitamin B12, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Gluten-free: The macrobiotic diet doesn't ban gluten, but you may be able to adapt it to work for a gluten-free diet. You'll still need to read food labels carefully to check for sources of gluten.

What Else You Should Know

Costs: None apart from your food shopping.

Support: If you want to understand macrobiotics on a deeper level, you can get coaching from macrobiotic counselors at the Kushi Institute, considered the center of macrobiotics today.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on November 28, 2013

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