Larger Than Life
Contrary to popular belief, macrobiotics is not simply a diet but a lifestyle, one that emphasizes living in harmony with the natural world.
By Shannon Gallagher
Photograph by Michael Nelson
Tonight I had the intense pleasure of meeting Mina and Bosko Dobic, who appeared in the story I wrote on macrobiotics in the March 2009 issue of Hudson Valley. Sitting around a big wooden table at M Café De Chaya, a popular macrobiotic restaurant in Los Angeles, with my family and theirs, I was completely engaged and impressed by their warmth, wealth of knowledge, and effusive positivity. I have never encountered two more optimistic people.
As Mina’s job (and passion) is helping others transition successfully into a macrobiotic lifestyle, I was not surprised to know she was eager to talk to me about my pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, macrobiotics is not simply a diet but a lifestyle, one that emphasizes living in harmony with the natural world. In addition to some helpful tips on what I should and shouldn’t be eating, Mina (and Bosko) had some wonderful things to offer about pregnancy in general. Here are some of my favorite tidbits from the evening…
- Before flying, drink this magical elixir: kukicha tea, a few drops of organic shoyu, and some umeboshi paste. The alkalizing tonic will help keep your internal organs from expanding in the air, and will ensure your uterus maintains its shape, keeping baby nice and relaxed. If possible, avoid flying after the seven-month mark — the pressure isn’t good for baby or mom. (The tea also does a mean job on a headache, but make sure it’s not too strong.)
- Try to avoid wheat and fish. They cause the cervix to tighten which can make birth more difficult. As you get closer to your due date, try to avoid all gluten. (Ayurveda also stresses no wheat/gluten during pregnancy, suggesting it causes uterine tissues to swell.) It was also recommended that I not eat bread at dinner because I’d been sitting in the sun all day. “Bread is baked. You eat bread now, you’re baked on the outside and baked on the inside.” Mina explained. I had salad.
- Babies are yang. Why? Because they’re grown within your womb, like soup in a pressure cooker.
- Sugar, which is a no-no in the macrobiotic diet to begin with, is a super no-no when you’re pregnant. Sugar consumption interferes with white blood cell production, which is essential for baby making (why nature gave women more white blood cells then men to begin with). Your liver — the “general” of the body — performs more than 870 functions, and gets overwhelmed by too much sugar (around 50 grams is the cut-off). The excess sugar we consume becomes fat and slows everything down. Grain sugars, like brown rice syrup, are sweet but don’t contain any grams of simple sugar, so they’re “safe” to use, unlike things like honey and evaporated cane juice. (This one is tough for me — I have a terrible sweet tooth — but have discovered macrobiotic strawberry cupcakes with soy frosting and may be able to quit the M&M’s once and for all. They’re that good.)
- Forego the ultrasounds — the radiation is bad for the baby’s heart. (While I can appreciate the idea, I also appreciate the peace of mind offered by this modern technology, especially because it was an ultrasound that alerted my dear friend to her baby girl’s fatal defect.) Macrobiotics advocates a minimal use of technological devices, including TVs, computers, and cell phones, especially when you’re pregnant.
- Try going for walks barefoot. Feel the soil, the sand, the snow or mud, with your bare feet. It connects you with nature, and allows you to absorb lots of delicious energy from the earth, which is both healing and centering. Can’t say I’ll be trekking down the road shoeless anytime soon, but I could stand to connect to the earth a bit more (and who doesn’t want more energy, especially when you’re not drinking coffee).
- Babies choose their parents. “Your baby, she chose you,” Mina told me as Bosko shook his head fervently in agreement. “[Baby] said ‘I’ll be the change she needs.’” This really moved me. I just hope she’ll remember that when she’s 16.
For more information on macrobiotics, click here.
For more information on macrobiotics and pregnancy, check out Macrobiotic Pregnancy and Care of the Newborn by Michio and Aveline Kushi, founders of the famous Kushi Institute in the Berkshires.