The Macrobiotic Diet


The staples of a macrobiotic diet are whole grains, locally grown fresh vegetables, sea vegetables, and beans. In addition, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds, and white fish are allowed 2-3 times per week. This diet excludes meat, dairy, and most other animal products, certain fruits and vegetables, and most commonly consumed beverages.The macrobiotic diet became popular in the 1970s. The term “macrobiotics” refers to a holistic lifestyle that emphasizes eating and living in harmony with nature in order to promote health and longevity.

How Is This Diet Supposed to Work?

The premise of this diet is that the modern, western diet is the cause of many illnesses, including cancer. Proponents of the macrobiotic diet believe that eating a mainly vegetarian diet with unprocessed, whole foods, which are also native to a person’s environment, will lead to improved health and greater happiness.

What’s Involved?

The main foods allowed on this diet are whole grains and grain products, vegetables, sea vegetables, and beans. Supplementary foods include fish and seafood, fruits, beverages, and snack foods. The standard breakdown of the macrobiotic diet is:
  • 50%-60% whole grains
  • 25%-30% vegetables
  • 5%-10% soups
  • 5%-10% beans and sea vegetables
Here are examples of foods that are recommended for regular use and occasional use, as well as foods that should be avoided. For more complete lists of the foods that are allowed on this diet, including oils, seasonings, and condiments, refer to the book The Macrobiotic Way.
Type of Food For Regular Use For Occasional Use To Be Avoided
Whole Grains Barley, brown rice (short and medium grain), buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, rye, wheat, other whole cereal grains Buckwheat noodles (soba), brown rice (long grain), bulgur, corn grits, cornmeal, puffed wheat, rice cakes, tortillas, whole wheat crackers, whole wheat pasta Anything made with yeast, baked goods containing dairy products, refined cereals, white flour products
Vegetables Acorn squash, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, chives, dandelion roots and greens, green and Chinese cabbage, kale, leeks, parsley, parsnips, pumpkin, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, turnips, watercress Alfalfa sprouts, beets, celery, corn-on-the-cob, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, romaine lettuce, shiitake mushrooms, snow peas, string beans, summer squash, Swiss chard, water chestnuts Asparagus, avocado, eggplant, fennel, green peppers, plantains, potatoes, red peppers, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, yams, zucchini
Sea Vegetables Agar-agar, arame, dulse, irish moss, kelp, kombu, nori, wakame
Beans and Bean Products Aduki beans, chick peas, green or brown lentils, miso, natto, natural tamari soy sauce, tempeh, tofu Bean sprouts, black beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, red lentils, soybeans, split peas
Fresh Fish and Seafood Flounder, haddock, halibut, herring, smelt, sole, trout Carp, clams, cod, red snapper, scrod, shrimp, oysters Bluefish, mackerel, salmon, swordfish, tuna
Fresh and Dried Fruit Temperate climate fruits Tropical fruits and juices
Snacks Almonds, chestnuts, homemade popcorn, peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, rice cakes, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, filberts, macadamia nuts, pistachios
Beverages Amaske, bancha tea, roasted barley tea, roasted rice tea, spring or well water Dandelion tea, grain coffee, kombu tea, mu tea For less frequent use: Apple juice or cider, barley green tea, fruit juice (temperate climate fruits), green tea, naturally fermented beer, sake, seed or nut milk, vegetable juice Alcohol, black tea, coffee, commercial beers, decaffeinated coffee, distilled water, herb teas, juice drinks, municipal or tap water, soft drinks, wine

Other Components of a Macrobiotic Diet

  • Whenever possible, foods eaten should be organic.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements are not recommended.
  • Meals need to be prepared using specialized cooking techniques. Using microwaves or electricity to cook is discouraged.
  • Foods that are allowed will, to some degree, depend on where you live.
  • If you have cancer, the part of your body that is affected will also influence your diet.
  • Macrobiotics is a type of holistic lifestyle. Diet is one component of this lifestyle.

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