It is extremely difficult to keep up with all the available diets in the market. It can be even more difficult to settle on the right one for you. But you have decided to start a plant-based diet. That’s great!
So how does one start a plant-based diet? What foods should you be eating? Is there a plant-based diet for beginners? Yes, it is called macrobiotics. Macrobiotics comprises an easy to follow plant-based diet and simple eating and lifestyle practices. All targeted towards creating strong, lasting health.
What is a Macrobiotic Plant-Based Diet?
Macrobiotic was first coined by George Ohsawa, a Japanese philosopher. His philosophical teachings on dieting and health date back to the 1930s. Yet, it was not until in the 1960s that the idea of macrobiotics got introduced in the US. Macrobiotics is a way of life emphasizing more on balance and consistency.
Macrobiotics is based on habits and practices of long-standing world civilizations that continue to live without chronic diseases. It’s aimed at balancing physical and spiritual well-being. The macrobiotic plant-based diet includes whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits and naturally pickled and fermented foods. While also removing or reducing meat, dairy, artificial ingredients and processed foods.
Macrobiotic Diet Benefits
A macrobiotic diet provides great health benefits. Plant-based foods are high in fiber, nutrients and minerals. Therefore, a healthy plant-based diet helps the body to stay balanced, improve gut and digestion, strengthen immunity and eliminate toxins.
Additional benefits include:
- Blood pressure, diabetes, and hypoglycemia – the diet consists of whole grains and vegetables. These foods are balanced and stable. For this reason, they help keep your blood pressure steady.
- Heart Health – the macrobiotic diet reduces the risk of heart disease because plant-based foods assist with weight management and improve bodily functions. Meaning your heart will not have to work as hard compared to a diet high in processed foods.
- Fatigue – Today’s diet is highly imbalanced and acidic. Making it harder for the body to deliver oxygen to vital organs. Additionally, the digestive system struggles to take in nutrients and minerals. So when you start a plant-based diet, the body begins to repair and regenerate. Making you feel more energized, younger and stronger.
Healthy Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet comprises of the following food categories:
Grains: brown rice, barley, millet, bulgur, couscous, oatmeal, polenta, udon and Italian semolina pasta, and unyeasted sourdough bread.
Beans: lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini and humus.
Vegetables: daikon, napa cabbage, bok choy,kale, arugula, lettuce, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
Soup: Miso and a variety of vegetable soups
Naturally pickled and fermented foods: pickles (pickles have numerous health benefits), sauerkraut, kimchi, apple cider vinegar and sourdough bread.
Seaweed: nori, kombu, and wakame.
Traditionally prepared, Non-GMO soy products: miso, shoyu, tofu, soy milk, tempeh.
How to Prepare a Healthy Plant-Based Meal
- Plan every meal around cooked grains and grain products
- Familiarize yourself with the variety of grains available at health-food stores.
- Eat at least one vegetable dish with every meal.
- Eat a wide range of vegetables
- Use different vegetable combinations and cook them in a variety of ways
- Try to eat an equal amount or more vegetables than grains.
- Incorporate a variety of healthy foods into your diet
- Eat one small bowl of soup every day.
- Eat pickled and fermented foods
Remember that you do not have to eat meat, poultry, or dairy for complete nutrition. Plants, not animals, are the best source of protein and other essential nutrients.
Healthy Eating Practices
Lifestyle and eating habits are just as important as a plant-based diet. These simple practices will help you stay fuller longer, feel more satisfied and reduce anxiety.
Take time for meals
If you hurriedly eat your meals every day, you’re not doing your body any favor. Take your time when eating. Eat your breakfast for at least 20 minutes, and not less than 30 minutes for your lunch and dinner. Pay attention to your food and how your body reacts as you reach the end. It helps to reduce the amount of food you consume every day.
Eat without distractions
Distracted eating happens when you’re more attentive to your surroundings than your food. This takes away your food’s flavor, texture, and presentation. Food will only nourish you when eaten under relaxed surroundings. For the plant-based diet for beginners to work, you need to eat in a calm environment. It should be free of any distractions such as television, phone, or any other form of work other than the task at hand. This is one of the most important practices because today there is so much going on. Many of us find ourselves overwhelmed. So make meals a time and space for you! Put away the phone and eat in peace and quiet. You will enjoy your food more, feel more satisfied and less stressed.
Eat at regular times
Eating at regular intervals prevents occurrences of extreme hunger and overeating.
How to Stick to a Plant-Based Diet and Lifestyle
Transition your diet and lifestyle at your own pace. Begin with 1 healthy meal per week or day or introduce a healthy eating or lifestyle practice in your daily schedule. Don’t stress yourself out by changing too much. Make it a positive experience. If cooking healthy meals is easiest over the weekend, begin with that. Or go for a walk after lunch or do yoga with friends during the week.
We always remind people that it is okay to slowly transition to a plant-based. For some of us this is completely brand new and that is alright! Take your time. It is amazing that you are taking this step to feel better and healthier.
Need more information or advice on the plant-based diet for beginners? No worries! Reach out to SHI macrobiotics and learn all about our macrobiotic courses, events and upcoming webinars. Denny and Susan Waxman, founders of SHI, have been teaching, counseling and living macrobiotic plant-based diet lifestyles for many decades.
For more interesting content on nutrition, macrobiotics, and healthy living, please visit SHI Macrobiotics blog.
Other Great Resources:
- The Ultimate Guide to Eating for Longevity – a practical handbook for lasting health with recipes and menu plans. – Available on Amazon.
- Denny Waxman’s macrobiotic blog
- Personal counseling with Denny Waxman – Denny is a renowned macrobiotic counselor with over four decades of experience. He works with each individual to come up with a unique personal diet and lifestyle regimen. Contact Denny Waxman today to achieve your best health.