If you have cancer, yes, I do definitely recommend you jump right in to macrobiotics link to macrobiotics page. However, during chemo – which is so depleting to the body – a macrobiotic counselor would adjust your diet so that you’re getting everything you need. For example, you might be allowed to have more oil in your diet during this time.
If you’re not trying to heal from a serious illness, I think that even small changes are a great step in the right direction.
I once heard a macrobiotic counselor suggest that it’s better to do macrobiotics less strictly over the long term than to just go gung-ho – changing everything at once – and then getting frustrated and quitting because it’s too hard to maintain. That’s why they call it a macrobiotic practice. We have to keep practicing!
First of all, if you have cancer, I’d let them know you’re eating this way because … you have cancer.
If they’re interested in exploring what you’re doing from a scientific/medical perspective, you could direct them to: www.cancerproject.org or www.nutritionmd.org for physicians. And I’d point them to “The China Study” (T. Colin Campbell’s groundbreaking book about the link between diet and health, based on 40 years of government-funded research).
For me, I knew that what I was doing was the right thing because of all I’d read about the connections between diet and cancer and about food’s effect on the body. But as important … because of how I felt while eating this way. It felt right, and I was feeling so much better.
I’ve come to realize that many people who rib you do so because if they agreed with you they’d have to really examine the much less healthy way they’re eating (the standard American diet) and, in doing so, realize that perhaps they should change their approach. And most people who don’t have cancer don’t want to do this.
Many restaurants do have foods that you can eat. Find some in your area that do. And good friends who invite you over will know what you’re doing and likely serve fish or something else that you can have. I often bring something with me when I go to a friend’s home for dinner. Try to put your friends at ease about it and let them know that you’re not suddenly the food police! If people ask me about my diet, I’ll tell them, but I don’t push it or proselytize. I think it’s very important to recognize that everyone’s on their own path.
It was a very gradual evolution, really. At first, since I had advanced cancer, I cooked what I needed to cook for myself and cooked them their normal diet. As time went on, I’d offer them small portions of my food, and they started trying some of it. When I found things they really liked, I’d make those more often. Sometimes I’d make a plain soup without spices, ladle out a portion for me, and then add seasonings or more oil for them. In the beginning, because they didn’t eat all the things that I did (like seaweed), I might cook fish or organic meat for them once or twice a week in small portions. My daughter (8 at that time) quickly transitioned to no animal products. My son (12 then) didn’t start eating this way completely until he was 19. The toughest thing for the kids, I think, was getting the junk food out of our house. I got healthier snack versions at first, and then we just didn’t have it.
*A suggestion: If you’ve got cancer, you might cook a macrobiotic meal and let whoever’s eating with you cook their own meat for themselves. This worked for a great couple I met at the Kushi Institute (where I learned so much about the macrobiotic approach and about cooking this way).
Typically, I have either oats, cornmeal (polenta) or reheated leftover rice along with steamed greens and another vegetable. Most people who follow a macrobiotic diet eat their miso soup for breakfast, too.
Leafy green vegetables – such as kale, collards, bok choy, and other leafy greens – and sea vegetables (various types of seaweed) are amazing sources of calcium. One cup of collards has about 249 milligrams of calcium per cup (cooked). And the body absorbs these sources of calcium more readily than calcium from dairy.
Many things in a typical American diet actually deplete calcium in our bones: too much animal protein, sugar, and carbonated beverages.
I get most of my protein from a wide variety of beans and some from grains. Our bodies actually need much less protein than most Americans believe. And it’s far healthier to eat get protein from a vegetarian source (such as beans, bean products and grains) than from animal sources.
You could gently recommend some easier steps that would just make her feel better. As a start, cutting back on the amount of sugar in her diet – and adding some more vegetables – alone would help boost her immune system. If she’s open to trying this, you might also send her a link to one of the above resources – and to this site or my blog.
*Have another question? Please e-mail me, and I’ll try my best to help.