Macrobiotics

Q & A Thursday: What to Do When You're Sick This Season

I'm sick? Why GOD?! WHY?!

sick.jpg

Ugh, I’m sick. That’s pretty much all I can think about right now. I keep asking myself, “How did his happen? Will I ever feel good again? I don’t even remember what it felt like to be healthy!” So as these thoughts spiraled, I had an epiphany: Since we’re in the belly of the beast (holiday season/cold season/super-stress season), I would answer my own question: Why am I sick? <cough, cough>

 

Answer:

Even if we ate the healthiest foods, and exercised appropriately, we may still get sick. Why? Because nutrition and physical activity are only 2 of the 5 Pillars that keep us healthy, happy, and productive. We often forget that relationships, career, and personal philosophy are important areas for us to focus on for our health. Unfortunately, our immune function is smarter than we are. Our bodies know what they need, even though we often forget or ignore it.

Speaking of immune function, there are many things that actually suppress or prevent it from operating at optimal levels.

 

Things That Suppress Immune Function:

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Refined sugar and flour products
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Artificial sweeteners, food dyes and preservatives
  • Stress
  • Excess exercise
  • Not enough exercise
  • Unhappy feelings and thoughts
  • A negative attitude towards life
  • Feeling trapped in a situation
  • Unexpressed emotions or emotions being expressed in an unhealthy way

That sounds like a lot, especially during this time of year, but don’t fret! All is not lost! 

 

Things That Boost Our Immune Function:

  • 8-10 hours of sleep per day
  • A moderate amount of exercise
  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Appropriate levels of activity
  • A Positive attitude about life
  • Job satisfaction
  • Loving relationships
  • Doing something that personally satisfies you every day
  • Expressing emotions in a healthy way
  • Pets

 

When I’m sick, I notice my sugar cravings skyrocket as my body is searching for extra energy.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t indulge a bit more when I’m sick. The truth is that I’m less likely to do the work to prep and cook my food and I am more likely to order delivery or dig into my chocolate stash.

Knowing this about myself, I decided to prepare by ordering Fresh Direct (grocery delivery for those of you who don’t live in the Northeast!) and stock up on ingredients for easy stir-frys and soups.

There are so many foods that help to strengthen our immune system. Here are a few I had on hand or purchased to prepare myself for hibernation.

 

 Foods That Help to Strengthen Our Immune Function:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries (also to curb my sugar cravings)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Flax, coconut, and olive oil
  • Brown rice & quinoa
  • Root vegetables (also to give me healthy carbs without the sugar spike!)
  • Spices such as: thyme, oregano, garlic, ginger, clove, basil, rosemary, onion, and turmeric
  • And without fail, I’m drinking 8 glasses of water or herbal tea!

 

My last tip for conquering sickness this season is “chicken soup for the soul.” No, not those books my mom always gives me (though I do like some of them).

Read books, watch movies, meditate, and do other things that you actually enjoy doing, but never let yourself indulge in. This is your time to nourish your soul by grounding your energy and focusing on self-love. Chances are, that’s why you got sick in the first place!

Personally, I’m rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban :)

And, on a more literal note, have some soup! Here is one of my favorite recipes and one that I’ll be making tonight! Thanks Whole Foods for this one!

 

Better than Chicken Soup

From WholeFoodsMarket.com

soup.png

Serves 4 to 6
This immune-boosting soup is made with a virtual garden of powerful ingredients that contain beneficial nutrients for your immune system.

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4 cups low-sodium mushroom, vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 cups julienned fresh kale
1 cup cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
6 thin slices astragalus root (optional)
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 teaspoon miso

Preparation

In a sauce pot over medium-high heat, saute onion and garlic in oil 3 minutes. Add turmeric and mushrooms. Saute 2 minutes. Add broth, kale, squash, ginger, cayenne and astragalus. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, add lemon juice and miso (adding miso when still very hot will diminish its probiotic benefits). Cover and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition (in case you care-which you shouldn’t)

Per serving: 90 calories (5 from fat), 0.5 g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 19g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 2g protein

 

What are your remedies for seasonal sickness? Share in the Comments Section Below!

Modern Day Macro-Part 4: Living in Balance

connect-with-your-godself2.jpg

Woohoo! You've made it to the 4th and final installment on Modern Day Macrobiotics. In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, we explored the importance of keeping your body aligned with nature, the role of food and the concept of Complementary Opposites. Today, let's take it one step further and look at how aligning with our higher self is crucial for optimal health.

Most of us believe the term "medicine" refers to taking a pill to fix an ailment. I certainly bought into that for years, looking to fix an internal problem with an external solution.  Modern Day Macrobiotic Medicine is a very different approach. It asks us to take out our magnifying glass and do the deep, uncomfortable, introspective work.  It isn’t about fixing a health condition; it’s about living in balance. I am not claiming that macrobiotics will fix every ailment, but the philosophy does help us to identify which of our 5 Pillars is out of balance and address it. We are then able to align with our higher selves. This, ultimately, is what optimal health is all about.

As we previously discussed, aligning and balancing our health allows us to live in accordance with nature and the greater universe.

We are then able to live as our true selves without fear. 

According to Osawa, the founder of Macrobiotics, the easiest way to see if we are out of balance is looking at three indicators. If we are in sync, we should have:

  1. Healthy energy without fatigue
  2. A good appetite for life
  3. Restful sleep

Looking at these three simple elements will help you as you address the imbalances in your life’s pillars. Eventually, you will intuitively know when you are not aligned and what needs to shift to return you to a balanced state. 

I know I am out of balance then I don’t feel connected to myself, or I simply feel “stuck.”

Old School Macrobiotics is often frowned upon because of its rigidity, but the true tenets of the macrobiotic lifestyle are quite freeing. Casually stated, Modern Day Macro says:

Do and eat whatever you want as long as you remain in balance. To do this, align with your higher self. Tune into your body's needs. Quit silencing that voice.

When you listen to your higher self, you will eat as though you are a part of nature because you are! It won't feel like "trying." You will crave foods that are as close to nature as possible without having to think too much. And honestly, who wants to think all the time about their food choices?

Let's Dig Deeper.

Balance is more than food. Complementary opposites exist to balance more than our bodies, but the Universe as a whole. The Universe is created by matter and spirit. As complementary opposites, one cannot exist without the other. They are both essential in creating our experience.  When we are not healthy and happy, we are violating the laws of the Universe and we are not free as we were meant to be. 

Everything: plants, animals, mountains are free as they are part of the universe. As humans, we are also free, but we violate nature and are not free when we go against these principles. We are in a self-contained prison, unable to choose happiness. When we feel trapped or stuck, we can look within and heal ourselves whether that be our mind or bodies that need healing.

Often, an illness is a gift.

 It is a spiritual assignment and an opportunity to look within. It can be an amazing chance to know ourselves on a deeper level and to address an imbalance that will lead us to optimal health and happiness.

For example, on the dark days when I feel confused and lost, I look within to heal myself so I can help others and feel joyful again. Thus, the dark is essential to the light. The yin and yang complement each other inside me.

It is your responsibility to yourself and others and the Universe to maintain balance. 

 I am grateful for the dark and the negative experiences as they served me and helped me to create light. Living in balance means you must have gratitude for the exact moment where you are in your journey and trust that it exists to serve you more deeply.

The Takeaway: Modern Day Macro is more than a way of eating. It offers us a way to live a joyful life and maintain feelings of happiness so that we can share it with others.

 

Modern Day Macro-Part 3: Complementary Opposites

yinyang.jpg

In Modern Day Macro Part 1 & Part 2 we explored the importance of keeping your body aligned with nature and the nitty gritty of how food plays a role in that. The Macrobiotic philosophy extends beyond food to include a way of living harmoniously. Just take a look at these adorable yin-yang cuddling puppies! If that doesn't get you to read on, I don't know what will!

Contraction and Expansion, Dark and light, Top and Bottom, Man and woman, etc. is the balance of complementary opposites. We see this everywhere. These opposing forces help balance each other. We see this in our body, in our lives, and in the greater universe.  We can’t have one without the other. 

Nothing is all yin or all yang. For example, a woman is considered yin, feminine and soft, but we all know that women are also strong, empowered, and a force to be reckoned with. I, for example, am active, direct, and expressive which are typically considered yang qualities.  But I can assure you, I’m all woman :)

In Modern Macro Medicine, the healing of disease is treated when we identify what is out of balance. We then rectify this imbalance with its complementary opposite.

For example, heart disease is a considered a yang or “hot” disease in the body. It can be cured, balanced, and healed by adding in cooling foods like fruits & vegetables and taking out "hot" foods like oils, fried things, and heavy foods. 

Anemia, on the other hand, requires "warming" foods like protein to help balance the system. 

The beauty of Modern day Macrobiotics is that it doesn’t just apply to food, but to life itself. Activities, places, ideas, etc. are yin or yang. Take a look:

yinyang.001.jpg
Not surprisingly, we live in a mostly contracted world.

Being in tune with nature, helps us to live in tune with the universal laws of complementary opposites.

The Takeway: Complementary Opposites teaches us to balance our health. Not only as it relates to food, but also as it relates to activities in our lives. Find foods and activities that balance your life.