What Is The Macrobiotic Diet?

Fiona Tuck

Nutrition Expert

Another diet, surely after the success of Paleo, Atkins, FODMAP, Juice etc. we don’t need another? Rest assured, as sure as the sun setting in the west we always need another diet trend…

So, what is the Macrobiotic diet? Like all new diet trends, it is not really that new and is very loosely based on Japanese and Buddhist philosophies balancing the yin and yang elements of food. Needless to say, it is a reported hit with Madonna and Gwyenth Paltrow. Sounds very hippy and Hollywood, undoubtably the 2 most important elements for a diet fad…

Put simply the Macrobiotic diet focusses on unprocessed foods and the consumption of vegetables and grains as opposed to animal based food. Whilst not strictly vegan (some animal products such fish are allowed) it follows similar principles.

macrobiotic-dietimage via pinterest

A “typical” Macrobiotic diet includes:

– Wholegrains – often, eg: brown rice, millet, rye, spelt.
– Vegetables – with every meal, eg: Asian veg, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage.
– Beans – once a day eg: black soybeans, Azuki beans, chick peas
– Tofu and tempeh – regularly (organic and non GM of course)
– Fish – 2 to 3 a week
– Seeds and nuts – 1 to 2 cups a week

The Macrobiotic diet also advocates the consumption of only eating seasonal produce and portion controlled meals.


The Macrobiotic diet has a lot of good quality complex carbs, high fibre, low fat foods that make you feel fuller for longer and are full of easy to absorb nutrients. According to Macrobiotic practitioners these foods are in harmony with nature and therefore easier for your body to process and digest.

This diet also focusses on wellbeing rather than on body image and is designed to be part of a lifestyle rather than a quick fix.

Another pleasing element is the lack of reliance on processed, pre-prepared food with questionable nutritional benefits.


Macrobiotic diet does not include (or advises only sporadic inclusion at best) red meat, tropical fruit, chicken or dairy. They are considered too yin for the body resulting in stagnation of energy or the vital life force called chi. Excluding these foods however does make it difficult to absorb certain essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin B12, D and iron to name a few.

This diet plan could not be considered balanced particularly to those with certain nutrient deficiencies. In addition, the strictness of the diet does make it difficult to sustain particularly as certain cooking modalities are prohibited or restricted such as roasting and microwave use.

It is best to consult a medical professional prior to undertaking any major diet changes as we are not all the same and what works for one may not work for the other.

As with everything, the changes you make should be focussed on health and should be sustainable.


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