The Macrobiotic Diet

If you want to follow the macrobiotic diet, you'll need to learn how to organize and plan your meals very efficiently.
The Macrobiotic Diet

Last update: 30 October, 2018

The macrobiotic diet was created by George Ohsawa, a Japanese philosopher who looked to achieve physical and mental balance through diet. Below, let’s take a look at how this diet works, its principals and how to understand what this diet means for eating, illnesses, and health.

Etymological meaning

The root of the word “macrobiotic” comes from the Greek words makros, (big), and bios, (life), indicating a way to live.

When read together, the word “macrobiotic” means: living an organized, responsible and balanced life. This lifestyle helps us to live for many years through health, and by healing ourselves with our diet.

Macrobiotic is just as philosophical as it is practical and in addition to updating the ancient principles of yin and yang, it aims to show that by following its practice, dieters can resolve existing problems. Diet forms the link between philosophy and practice.

Macrobiotics principles

  • Eat organic fruits and vegetables, or in other words, fresh produce that doesn’t use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides.
  • Don’t eat refined food products (sugar and anything that contains sugar, such as sauces, baked goods, frozen foods).
  • Try to eat seasonal and national foods.
  • Chew slowly to aid the body in digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Only eat when you’re hungry as a means to prevent overworking the digestive system and slowing the brain.
  • Eat in a tranquil setting, giving thanks for the food that you’re about to eat.
  • Have a maximum of three meals a day, following certain guidelines, such as not eating just before sleeping or right after getting up.
  • As for exerciseget active outside in order to become accustomed to the seasonal changes, being conscious of them and being attentive to the climate.
Macrobiotics weather

The yin and yang balance

As we touched upon before, the macrobiotic diet aims to update the ancient Asian principal (yin and yang) in order to help modern minds understand it.

When choosing our food, we need to look for a balance between the foods with yin characteristics and those with yang characteristics. They’re cultivated differently and consequently, they act distinctly on our physiological and mental constitution.

Characteristics of  yin and yang foods

Yin foods: high water content, plants with short roots and tall leaves, red, orange and yellow colors, fast-growing plants.

Yang foods: low water content, meaning that they last much longer, green, blue, indigo, violet colors, plants with long roots and stout foliage, slow-growing.

According to the yin and yang principle, each element of nature (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) creates a distinct flavor, which has a certain power or effect on each food.

Food for a healthy diet

  • Biological whole grains and their derivatives; always choose organic options.
  • Brown rice; the hull contains proteins, vitamins, minerals.
  • Millet, rich in magnesium and lecithin.
  • Buckwheat.
  • Oats.
  • Wheat couscous.
  • Wheat gluten.
Macrobiotic food
  • Legumes and their derivatives.
  • Soybeans: full of high biological value proteins (tofu, tempeh, proteins, miso, vegetable-based milk).
  • Seaweed: a natural source of proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, which are essential in a macrobiotic diet.
  • Kombu, hiziki, wakame, nori.
  • Other: sesame and its derivatives, tea

Health and sickness

According to the macrobiotic diet, there’s only one kind of sickness and everything else is considered its manifestations (arrogance and ego-centrism). Thus, the sickness provokes a natural reaction from the body, which tries to find balance by eliminating the harmful excess (symptoms). So, this diet consists of eating in a way that doesn’t fuel the body’s sickness.

As for health, health is defined by the opposite term: humility. The diet’s founder proposed seven conditions to measure health, emphasizing that the seventh condition was just as important as the previous ones.

Health conditions

  • Not tired
  • Sleeping well
  • Having a good appetite
  • Good memory
  • Pleasant mood
  • Quick thinking and taking action
  • Being just


To summarize the macrobiotic diet, we could say that it’s a group of principles involving diet, aiming to substitute all the food that comes from an animal source, with vegetable-based options. In addition, these vegetable-based foods must be organic, grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides. On top of that, the diet excludes excess candy, sugar, refined flour, and baked goods. Lastly, the diet emphasizes incorporating vegetable-based foods that enrich diets with their high contents of vitamins and minerals. This is the key to being healthy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.