Yin and yang ?
Chinese philosophy has always been intrigued with balance: night and day, high and low, winter and summer, dark and light, black and white, left and right, false and true, female and male. The yin and yang represent the negative and positive forces in the universe and the “dynamic balance of opposites”.
The 2 poles, yin (expansion) and yang (contraction), are complementary and antagonistic. Yin and yin repulse one another, as do yang and yang, but yin and yang attract one another. One can get an actual picture of these relations by playing with two magnets. The study of macrobiotics consists therefore in identifying these forces and their interaction. In human life, yin and yang can be identified on a multitude of levels, but mostly, as far as we are concerned, in the nervous system division between parasympathetic nervous system – yang- and sympathetic nervous system – yin. The balance between the two is paramount to the maintenance of good health.
man and woman
The idea is that our diet will influence how we feel,- our health, our well-being. Modern symptom-conscious society, however, has gotten away from that idea and the common belief is that if there are no symptoms manifested, there is no sickness. But people are moving back to those beliefs as the macrobiotic lifestyle is becoming more prevalent. People are more interested in natural holistic approaches.
The word macrobiotic comes from the Greek macro, meaning large or long, and bios, or life. Macrobiotics is a lifestyle and dietary philosophy that promotes health, longevity and healing, through a largely plant-based diet. It is a complex science involving diagnosis, lifestyle and nutrition
One goal of modern macrobiotics is to become sensitive to the actual effects of foods on health and well-being, rather than to follow dietary rules and regulations. Dietary guidelines, however, help in developing sensitivity and an intuitive sense for what sustains health and well-being.
Some Japanese macrobiotic theorists, 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 “yingness” is only discussed in relation to other foods.
Buy Local and In Season
Today “local” means grown within 500 miles of where you live; the idea being that you will be eating foods natural to your environment, and vital nutrients will not have aged out of your food by the time it reaches your table.
Thought is important, but diet is key to establishing good blood, which irrigates the brain and ultimately influences ideas, aspirations, behavior and many oher other manifestations. Food is more than just fuel for our daily life. It’s our connection with the natural environment, something we have to study, understand, and apply to our diet.
Yin and Yang
Depending on climate and personal needs, moderate amounts of animal food can be consumed along with these staple foods. In general the smaller the animal, the better. The more ancient the species, the better (i.e. fish) The wilder the the better.
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 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.
Cooking according to the time of the year
Food with a lighter quality
Wild plants, greens, lightly fermented food, grain species, fresh greens
Light cooking style: steaming, cooking for a short time, etc.
Food with a lighter quality
Large-leaved greens, sweet corn, fruit, summer pumpkins
Light cooking style: steaming, quick cooking, etc.
More raw foods
Lighter grains, such as barley, and bulghur
Food with a more concentrated quality
Root vegetables, (winter) pumpkins, beans, cereals, etc.
Heavier grains such as sweet rice, mochi and millet
Food with a stronger, more concentrated quality
Round vegetables, pickles, root vegetables, etc.
More miso, soy sauce, oil, and salt
Heavier grains such as millet, buckwheat, fried rice, etc.