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Eating Macrobiotically:
What Are The Criteria?

by Harold Kulungian

These are the inescapable questions for anyone serious about practicing Macrobiotics effectively: "How do I know whether I'm doing it right? How do I know a Macrobiotic person when I see one? What are the unique characteristics of the authentic Macrobiotics?"

When I began Macrobiotics a quarter century ago, in 1974, it was axiomatic that you could go into a hall full of one hundred people, and if there was anyone else Macrobiotic there, you would find yourself gravitate to that individual and spot him or her in no time.

That's because Macrobiotics was practiced with some discipline in those days, in accordance with George Ohsawa's designation of this natural way of life as "a discipline of life."

But by the late 70s, Macrobiotics was being transformed into something else, into a so-called "naturally healthy gourmet" diet, in order to appeal to the decadent tastes of Americans. Macrobiotics felt it could not sell itself any other way. As Anne Marie Colbin shamelessly told one interviewer, about the "gourmet" innovation she brought into Macrobiotics within a dozen years of George Ohsawa's death in 1966: "This is what sells. This is what Americans want."

So Ann Marie transformed herself from a strikingly elegant macro femme into a dowdy, frumpy matron; and within another ten years her "gourmet revolution" had swept the country, from East to West. However, it really wasn't bona fide Macrobiotics, although Ann Marie stole the Yin/Yang concept and the Five Element Theory from Macrobiotic Oriental Medicine.

After that fatal change in the concept of Macrobiotics, within another ten years, in the early 1990s, Macrobiotic leaders and practitioners of long standing began to bite the dust from degenerative diseases--heart disease and cancer--precisely the plagues that Macrobiotics had been invented to cure!

The question then is inevitable: Can one be a self-indulgent gourmand and still reap the benefits in optimum perfect health, with acquired immunity to both infectious and degenerative diseases, that is the promise of Macrobiotics?

The occasion that prompts me to take up this old question is this: Yesterday, February 25, 200l, I was in the Bread & Circus Wholefoods Supermarket in Hadley, Massachusetts, which was formerly owned by a Macrobiotic couple, and passing the meat counter I saw Smoked Pork Hocks that had been frozen. Very interesting, because "All Natural", no chemicals or preservatives, no nitrates or nitrites. And it occurred to me that this was formerly a customary food of the old Yankees in the cold New England winters here.

In fact, Pickled Pigs Feet is still a standard item in the diet of the Polish farmers in Hadley and roundabout. So I decided to buy one Smoked Hock, just over half a pound, @ $2.99 per pound. Of course the hock is mainly bone. But the meat and fat on it are the most Yang (contracted, dense flesh), since this is the strong muscle that sustains the animal's quite heavy weight.

So I cooked it in an iron pot, with greens and root vegetables and onion, slowly on low heat, until the steam permeated it thoroughly. Together with my brown rice and lentils, only a couple morsels of the smoked meat satisfied my hunger completely, and infused wonderful body heat into my bones.

I knew I should eat only a little of this concentrated smoked meat, since it is so strong I didn't want to be overpowered. It has given wonderful warmth and energy, and the question might be put: "Are you still Macrobiotic while eating pork, no less?"

So now we return to my original question: "What are the scientific criteria for being Macrobiotic?"

    1. The body utilizes one's food 100% effectively, which means that the food is completely metabolized, broken down and assimilated into one's bloodstream. This will show by several indications:

    2. The stools are well-formed, dark brown color, with no food particles, no foul odor, and are buoyant, floating on water. Physical buoyancy is the basis of spiritual buoyancy also, freedom from depression, which comes from sinking energy, manifested in sinking stools.

    3. The hair is strong and shiny, with an elastic quality, because one's high quality food is being assimilated into the hair.

    4. Likewise, one's skin is smooth and shiny, with a strong elastic quality. Thus the skin on one's elbows will not be puckered, but will be smooth, even when the arm is almost straight.

    5. The nose will be well contracted on the sides, concave, with nostril lines that are deep, and nostrils flaring, indicating no accumulation of mucus in one's lungs and internal organs. One is clean inside: this is internal hygiene.

    6. Of course the eyes will be perfectly centered and strongly focused. There will be no pouches or discoloring under the eyes. The cheeks will have a good shape, oval on women, with a slight flat spot on men. I needn't protract this list further.

Now we should turn to the critical question: "What are the indispensable factors that make possible this 100% effective complete assimilation of our food, so that no unmetabolized waste matter is accumulating anywhere in our body, giving us perfect internal hygiene?

Although most of these factors should be known by ordinary commonsense, some are Macrobiotic secrets known only to those who have practiced and studied this way of life diligently:

    a. One must use only pure unrefined sea salt or rock salt, which contains all the natural trace minerals, in order to achieve a complete metabolism of one's protein and fat intake, including vegetable oils.

    b. One must be wearing all natural organic clothing of sufficiently heavy weight to absorb the excess moisture and dietary waste matter through one's skin. Transpiration precedes and is a prerequisite for digestion. Without getting rid of our waste matter through our skin, our biggest organ, our digestion will stagnate and our food will putrefy in us, leaving toxic waste to vex our health and possibly cause any of a multitude of problems.

    c. Likewise, especially in cold, damp weather (Yin), one should wear leather shoes with leather soles, inside and out, so that our feet can get air and breath freely. If you haven't discovered the important difference to your strength and energy that is experienced with leather-bottomed shoes, try it. You'll be amazed!

    d. The use of the Macrobiotic condiments, gomasio, seaweeds, miso, shoyu, sauerkraut, and home-made pickles--all these add to one's digestive power to metabolize one's food completely, as is shown in our Daily Checkup by observing the condition of one's stools.

    e. Getting the requisite amount of sunshine, activity, deep breathing, and well-ventilated sleep--all are important. But we should not need to be pounding the pavement in jogging shoes--not even to digest pork hocks completely. The secret is moderation in diet, so that moderation in everything else will be sufficient. We will not have to be engaged in a daily relentless struggle to maintain our health, if we do not over-indulge.

    f. Let me conclude this brief list by stressing the importance of wearing wool, especially in winter. Those who do not conserve their body heat with wool can never enjoy the vigor of those of us who do. Wool has largely disappeared from winter garments in the USA; and the health of the population has declined accordingly. So many sicknesses and diseases could be prevented, and can be cured, by simply wearing wool. Thus every day I thank heaven that I've had the commonsense to continue to wear wool, when most of my contemporaries are wearing thin cottons or synthetics, with their health suffering accordingly.

So then, to sum up, when we eat Macrobiotically, we get the optimum energy from our food, and our body is continuously cleansed by our food and clothing and footwear, instead of being polluted by a careless, intranspirable way of life that does not permit us to transpire, to discharge our dietary wastes as fast as they are produced.

Harold Kulungian
177 No. Pleasant St., Apt. 2
Amherst, MA 01002-1719
1-413-253-2277 by 9 AM

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