Is your life a minestrone or a chickpea stew? Miranda! France looks at the range of diets available to us, and our motives for choosing them.
‘Tell me what you eat. and I will tell I you what you are.‘ said BriIIat-Savarin in 1825. These days that little piece of wisdom is particularly pertinent as more and more people opt out of a meat-and-‘ two-veg lifestyle in favour of eating regimes that match their ideologies. With the wealth of foodstuffs available to the multi-cultural West and the constant pressure on us to boycott one product or favour another for political or environmental reasons. eating is no longer a matter of survival. it is a way of taking part in political or environmental activism. You may eat black pudding or unsweetened muein for breakfast — but either way you are making a point. not just about your gastronomic preferences and budgeting. but about your lifestyle. your sense of responsibility and what is now termed as your
You can now pick a diet to suit
an ideology, to enhance a busy
lifestyle, even to change your psyche.
While peoples of various religions have recognised a relationship between food and ideology for centuries. the secular world has been slower to make the association. Not until the 19th century was vegetarianism commonly advocated on moral. as well as health. grounds. Now many New Age health- watchers look to the East for the solution to their ills. physical and psychological. Macrobiotics. which has Japanese roots. is a strict regime based on a belief that all the universe‘s forces are divided into two
Emphasis on more yin cooling [anon
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Emphasis on more ynnp cool-n; factors
Macrobiotic guidelines for seasonal diet adjustments
strains which. when they are not balanced. are antagonistic to one another. For macrobiotics. personal well-being depends on the equal intake of yin and yang foods. The social. cultural and family background of the individual are taken into account to determine dietary needs.
To the 90s health-conscious man or woman. the basic tenets of macrobiotics seem to go curiously against the grain (if you‘ll excuse the pun): the diet proposes cooked vegetables. rather than fresh fruit, and liquids only in moderation. Macrobiotics are supposed not to eat anything that is not grown in their part of the world and to vary their yin/yang intake according to seasonal and lunar cycles. Strictly speaking. they should eat no meat. other than white fish and seafood. nor any dairy products. and have to avoid numerous potassium- eontaining vegetables. including cucumber. mushrooms. lettuce. potatoes. tomatoes. spinach. green pepper and avocado. Spices and cold drinks are right out. The ideal daily diet consists of 50—60 per cent whole cereal grains. 5 per cent soup. 25—30 per cent vegetables. 10—15 per cent beans and seaweed and 5—10 per cent fish. shellfish. seasonal fruits and nuts.
The demands placed upon a macrobiotic extend beyond the kitchen; in her book Macrobiotic Cooking for Everyone. Wendy Esko urges her readers to keep their houses neat. write regularly to their friends and family and. teIIingly, to keep accessories to an ‘elegant‘ minimum. She believes that a macrobiotic lifestyle benefits not just the individual but. ultimately. the world‘s prospects for peace.
If macrobiotics sounds like hard work. try intuition. People who put their trust in crystals believe that
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The List 20 December 1991 — 16 January 1992 87