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ASK SARAH: are you still following the macrobiotic diet?


hello sarah, i was just wondering if you still follow a macrobiotic diet? or are you more on the vegan program? i was curious how long you followed it and how it effected you? it seems so strict, but i have a digestive disorder and i have heard it's a pretty helpful diet to follow. i'd love to hear your insight. thanks!

answer after the jump!


this is a question i've been asked a few times and i'm really looking forward to answering (i'll also be posting this in the crohn's section so that as time passes it doesn't disappear into the archives!) let me preface my answer by saying that i am not a trained health professional and my advice is just coming from personal experience.  i do recommend seeing a macrobiotic counselor, a holistic health care provider, a naturopath, and/or  our physician before making any changes. 

i love the macrobiotic diet (learn more about it here) as it's truly such an incredibly healthy way to eat. when i was recovering from this i tried to eat as macro as i could.  i never fully grasped the whole yin/yang thing which is a major part, but found that just the basic principles and using the food pyramid helped me understand what i should be eating and what i should be avoiding.  so this meant i ate a lot of whole grains, vegetables, beans, soups and small amounts of fruit.  i added all kinds of new foods to my life and started a love affair with vegetables.  i avoided dairy, meat, fish, eggs, sugar, flour and almost all processed foods.  i made sure that my seasonings were mild- no excess in either salt or sweet.  i chewed my food until it was liquid (amazingly helpful for your digestion!) and i tried to eat mostly local, seasonal produce.  it was incredibly good for my system at the time and helped me get back to health so quickly.  for this reason i swear by it for anyone looking to heal their body-from anything!

macrobiotics is a lifestyle, not just a diet, which is another part of what i think is brilliant about it.  i believe that stress is a huge contributing factor in modern health and illness.  i have to make sure that i manage my stress levels or i see my health deteriorate.  i've learned from experience- if my diet is poor and my stress levels are high i am pretty much guaranteed to start having pain in my stomach.  if i continued down that path i would no doubt end up with a full blown crohn's flare up.  for me it's always a great reminder that my life is out of balance and i go immediately back to clean eating and take time to do the things that reduce stress (exercise, transcendental meditation, sunbathing, movie dates with my husband, bike rides, etc).

as time passed and my health improved i started to trust myself a little more and began being a little less restrictive in my diet.  this means that if i'm out with friends and everyone is sharing dessert- i'm the first to pick up my spoon and the last to set it down.  when we vacationed in greece i tried all the local fish dishes and ate my weight in feta cheese. i would have been fine had i come home and immediately transitioned back into my clean eating but instead i continued to have "treats" until i started to feel it and was reminded that i really have to eat a certain way to feel healthy.  

my dietary focus now is eating healthy 95% of the time.  this means that 95% of the time i'm eating lots of (ORGANIC!) veggies and fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans, and some macrobiotic favorites (miso soup & sea vegetables).  i avoid animal products, refined sugar and processed foods. lately i've been trying to eat more raw foods as they offer the most nutrition and i've been starting each day with a glass of warm lemon water and this juice.  i've also found that giving my digestive system breaks (through juice cleanses) has been incredible.  i feel my very best when i'm eating very light (ie: smaller, raw meals) and drinking lots of fresh juices.  i've been teaching myself how to cook and have so much fun playing in the kitchen.  i don't feel at all deprived, instead i feel like there's a whole world of foods that i've become aware of since starting to eat this way.  the 5% of the time is when i'm traveling or socializing and i still try to eat healthy but will also have some of the things i normally avoid.  especially sweets, i love a sugary treat.

i know it sounds crazy but i feel so fortunate to have gotten sick.  i feel better now than i ever have, and i attribute that entirely to my change of diet and lifestyle. if you're reading this and you're completely healthy- there is nothing better than preventative medicine! i consider every green juice i drink a little bit of preventative medicine and feel confident that this way of life will keep me healthy for the long haul. autoimmune diseases like crohn's are on the rise in this country and women are the most likely to get sick (statistics here if you're interested- the numbers are staggering).  i believe that we can prevent and treat most (if not all) autoimmune disease with dietary/lifestyle changes.    

here are two cookbooks that played a major role in my recovery:  the kind diet, the hip chick's guide to macrobiotics.  both books offer insight into macrobiotics and recipes that aren't overwhelming.  the recipes that i post are most often things that are a part of my regular diet, but i also post the occasional treat.  it's all about balance! wishing you all the best, health and happiness!  xx- sarah

*please feel free to email me any questions you have for my ASK SARAH series at  

image from here

Reader Comments (5)

i had no idea that if you chewed on your food thoroughly, it improved your digestion. thanks for the enlightening post!

01/23/13 | 10:47 AM | Unregistered Commentermonica wang

Hey Sarah, great post! I always find it helpful to hear how others have recovered from Crohn's. I have to say I do find it confusing since many of the diets are so contradictory! Did you try any other diets, such as SCD which eliminates all grains? How did you land on the macrobiotic diet? Sometimes I think that maybe it just comes down to cleaning up our diets and taking out the processed foods! Just interested in hearing your thoughts. Thanks!

01/23/13 | 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnna

@monica- it makes a HUGE difference! your saliva breaks the food down so that your digestive system doesn't have to work so hard. and i think it helps you absorb more nutrients. i still have to remind myself to slow down because i'm a fast eater!

@anna- this is something i've thought a lot about too! i found the macro diet from a book called "healing crohn's the natural way". the author's story is amazing. i think the common denominator in all the diets i've explored is veggies. in my opinion they're the key to health. lots of fruits, vegetables and whatever else grows out of the earth is pretty much the answer to most problems. i think eating a primarily plant based diet makes your immune system strong, and helps maintain your health. but those are just my thoughts! what do you think?

01/24/13 | 9:16 AM | Registered Commentersarah yates

Hi Sarah! Although I really go back and forth on my opinion of the various diets, I agree, I think that the keys are lots of veggies (loved your green juice post...agree on the daily dose of prevention!) and little or no processed foods. I do eat meat but even with the diets that allow meat I find the key is eating organic meat which is preferable also locally raised. Keep up the great posts!

01/26/13 | 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I have gone through this article and I came to know about some interesting and essential information from the article over here. Macrobiotic Diet is really very good for our body and We can do it for the better improvement of our body in a positive way. It is a good diet and very helpful for us. I am really feel glad by seeing this article. This quite informative and helpful.

09/28/13 | 5:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Taylor

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