The Definition of Macrobiotic
Macrobiotics, noun, (used with a singular verb)
a system of holistic principles and dynamic practices that guides choices in nutrition, activity, and lifestyle for physical, emotional, mental, social, and environmental health.
– macrobiotic, adj., such as macrobiotic philosophy or macrobiotic diet.
Origin: from Ancient Greek: Makros (large or long), Bios (life or way of living), and Thiké (technique or art of). First used by German physician Christoph von Hufeland (1762-1836) in his book title translated in English as: Macrobiotics or the Art of Prolonging Human Life.
As mentioned, this macrobiotic definition took a year of discussion that started between a couple of interested parties and eventually spread across the macrobiotics community to include all major players. The definition was finally agreed upon at the 2017 Annual International Macrobiotic Conference, which was attended by nearly 50 macrobiotic experts and many more associations dedicated to the furthering of macrobiotic practice to create a healthy world around us.
SHI and Carl Ferre of GOMF are began endeavoring to create a comprehensive definition of macrobiotic that experienced practitioners can agree on. It was our hope that a definition of macrobiotic would be broad enough to encompass all of the practice while still allowing everyone to expound on the definition with their particular expression, interpretation, and focus. The definition of macrobiotics was long overdue from the leading counselors and associations, but has been completed and was eventually widely agreed upon by a group that includes all of the major players in the macrobiotic community.
Our goal was for anyone searching the internet to find the same fundamental definition. This, we hope, shall be a major step towards a broader understanding and acceptance of macrobiotic practice. The result is now we have a working definition that is widely accepted, and can still potentially evolve over time. (Learn about the difference between vegan, vegetarian, and macrobiotic.)
Original Strengthening Health Institute Macrobiotic Definition
Macrobiotics is a philosophy of life that guides one’s choices in diet, activity, and lifestyle. The principles and practices are used to nourish body, mind, and spirit. Literally, macrobiotics translates to Great Life or Life According to the Largest View.
The following is a demonstration of how the definition can be applied to a particular interpretation of macrobiotic practice.
SHI Interpretation of Tenets, Principles, and Shared Commonalities:
Macrobiotic practice demonstrates that the daily events and choices of one’s life deeply affect people, society, and the planet. The application of macrobiotic principles can create a strong physical, mental, and spiritual vitality and adaptability. It leads to self-discovery and increases an ability to independently guide one’s life in a creative, productive, adventurous, and meaningful way.
An unfounded macrobiotic definition often refers to the practice as a fad diet, but in reality, it is probably the only way of eating that is based on the eating pattern of all of the world’s long-standing civilizations. Although the foods and preparations are different in many traditional cuisines around the world, they all reflect a culture’s adaptation to the environment and their unique relationships with nature. Additionally, they are all variations on the same common food categories. These include a variety of grains, beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruits, while including minimal amounts of animal and dairy foods. These diets have also historically included soups, mild beverages, and various pickled and fermented foods.
The dietary aspect of macrobiotic practice is part of an overall approach to life. Additionally, basing the approach on adding naturally becomes very open and inclusive. New foods, preparations, and styles of cuisines from Asia, India, the Middle East, Northern and Southern Europe, and Africa are for discovery. Food is the daily, direct connection to nature, other people, and all aspects of life. From this understanding, macrobiotic practice is an expression of respect and a celebration of life itself.
Spiritual Meaning Behind Macrobiotic Diets
Spiritual health is an important aspect of macrobiotic practice because the cultivation, experience, and expression of endless appreciation for all life is a central principle. The expression of spiritual health is to live life to its fullest capacity and longevity. The image of spiritual health is “One Grain, Ten-Thousand Grains” which is based on Nature’s model of providing and giving back endlessly. Spiritual health naturally leads to mental and emotional health, which in turn leads to physical health.
George Ohsawa was the founder of of modern day macrobiotics. The practice evolved and developed further through Shizuko Yamamoto, Herman & Cornellia Aihara, Michio & Aveline Kushi.
5 Guiding Macrobiotic Principles to Practice
1. Shindo Fuji, which can be interpreted as: We are one with, a reflection of, and inseparable from Nature, the environment, and each other. The more kind and loving to oneself through dietary and lifestyle choices, thoughts and actions, the more benefit becomes of society and the environment. Conversely, the more disrespect and pollution to the environment, other people, and animals, the more the whole suffers as a consequence.
2. The Unifying Principle (a.k.a. “The Unique Principle”) is a set of seven principles and twelve laws of change that guide all life. These principles and laws provide an endless ability to create balance, harmony and change in all domains of life, such as the ability to change sickness into health, unhappiness to happiness or unifying apparent opposites. The Unifying Principle is the essence, guiding light, and life-blood of macrobiotic practice. The Unifying Principle distinguishes macrobiotic practitioners from vegetarian and vegan eaters.
3. The small controls the large. Small steps or positive changes are cumulative and have great benefits over time. Many people making small, incremental changes create great power of change on a larger scale.
4. Macrobiotic practice has respect for tradition and all that has come before. History is a guide. The Unifying Principle helps to understand, reinterpret and adapt the past for now and the future.
5. Macrobiotic practice is a peaceful, biological revolution. Healthy people create healthy families, healthy communities and a healthy society. The common shared dream is to have a healthy, happy, peaceful and prosperous world for all. Michio Kushi defined his dream of macrobiotic practice as “One peaceful world,” and saw the transformation of humanity into peaceful human beings that would eventually lead to spiritual human beings.
For more interesting articles about nutrition, macrobiotics, and living a healthy lifestyle, please visit Denny’s macrobiotic blog.