{Macrobiotic March} CHEWING!

First, thanks so much for all the enthusiasm about Macrobiotic March! I am just as excited to learn as you guys are. This is a great excuse for me to really dive into the theory of macrobiotics and learn as much as I can.

Here are 2 Macrobiotic March posts from participants so far:

  • Top 3 Macrobiotic Ingredients (Macro Mondays @ The Dainty Pig). I’ll tell you one of them because I love it so much – seaweed.
  • Grains & Veggies (@ Heather Eats Almond Butter). Heather and I share a love of butter that would prevent either of us from going full on macrobiotic.

If you post about Macro March and I miss it please let me know.

Onto today’s topic… It is an important one…

supersize

(I hope he chews that before swallowing!)

Macrobiotic CHEWING

When I first started talking about macrobiotics a few years ago, everyone I mentioned it to started asking me about chewing. I had no idea what they were talking about. Somehow I’d missed the main macrobiotic principle – you have to chew everything really really thoroughly. Like, 100 bites per mouthful thoroughly.

No, I’m not exaggerating. And yes, when I found out, I was shocked.

  • Jessica Porter recommends between 50-100 times per mouthful.
  • This article also says a minimum of 50 times, with 100 being the ideal.
  • Souen recommends chewing at least 30 times per mouthful.
  • The Kushi Institute recommends chewing at least 50 times per mouthful.
  • Mama Tomiko says to chew 100 times per mouthful.

Benefits of Chewing Your Food Thoroughly

  • Savor, taste, and enjoy the food you have been so lucky to receive.
  • Digestion starts in the mouth. The better you chew, the better your digestion will be. Suffer from bloating or cramps after eating? Maybe you are wolfing your food. I know I am a quick eater and probably get only 5-10 chews per mouthful – no wonder I have a tummyache all the time.
  • Maximize the nutrition you get out of your food. Again, because digestion begins in the mouth (grinding the food but also the enzymes in saliva start to break down starches), the more you can do with chewing, the more easily your body will get nutrients out of foods (especially grains).
  • Reduce digestive stress by chewing more. Again… the more digestion you can do in the mouth, the less work your stomach and intestines have to do. Chew chew chew (x50-100).
  • If you tend to overeat, you may start eating more moderately if you chew more. It will get too annoying to chew 100 times per mouthful and instead of continuing to eat, you might get bored when you are full and just put the fork (or chopsticks) down.
  • Chewing is the most important part of digestion for grains. (Meats require stomach acid to be fully digested, though meats are discouraged on a macrobiotic diet.) To get all the nutrients you can out of grains you have to chew them well.
  • Chewing activates your brain – it can improve alertness and activates at least 8 areas of the brain.
  • You’ll eat more slowly. It’s polite.
  • Chewing activates your salivary glands, and saliva actually does more than just help start digestion. Saliva can remineralize teeth and it keeps your mouth healthy.
  • Chewing relaxes the muscle at the bottom of your stomach (the pylorus) and helps food move as it should through your digestive system. For more on how chewing impacts the digestive system, I suggest reading this article.
  • Thorough chewing can promote and cultivate better self-awareness and a sense of calm. Chewing is like doing yoga in your mouth.

teeth

(Keep those teeth healthy – chew more! More saliva –> healthier teeth.)

How to Start Chewing More & Chewing Better

  • Begin by chewing at least 15 times per mouthful. Do this for 3-4 days.
  • Increase to 20-25 times per mouthful. Again, do this for 3-4 days.
  • Slowly keep increasing every 3-4 days by 5-10 chews per mouthful. Eventually you’ll get to 50. For what it’s worth, I think 50 chews per mouthful is plenty.
  • Soon you will be a macrobiotic chewing champ!

For good health, how you eat is just as important (or more important) than what you eat.

In Japanese, the word for chew is kamu (to bite, to chew): かむ. The noun form of kamu is kami (かみ), which  also means spirit, or god. In Shinto buddhism, the deities (spirits) are called kami. (Kami can also mean ‘above’, ‘hair’, and ‘paper’.) We can see the word kami in other Japanese words and phrases – kamikaze (divine+wind, but later meaning the suicide pilots). More on the etymology of kami {HERE}.

How many times do you chew each mouthful of food? Are you going to try to chew more thoroughly? Do you have any chewing tips?

Like I said above, I am a 5-10 chew person (normally). However, this month I’ve been trying to chew more. It’s so hard to remember, and it’s hard for me to get anything above 30. There’s just nothing left by the time I get to 30 chews.

Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.‘ –Swedish proverb.

Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate.‘ –Horace ‘The Great Masticator’ Fletcher (1849-1919)

March: Month of Macrobiotics

Hello and happy Tuesday! Thanks for the responses to my French press exposé. I still haven’t decided which machine to get but in the meantime I’m filtering my French pressed coffee. Not the most elegant solution (I’m using paper towels), but it works. No more gunk at the bottom of my mug; I’m hoping that means some of that cafestol is staying out of my mug too.

Onto the topic of today’s post – macrobiotics. Long-time readers may know that I am a huge macrobiotics fan. Give me a plate of simple, traditional Japanese food and I am a happy girl. One of my favorite meals is a simple macro plate (a perfectly balanced mix of macrobiotic foods).

ozu-macro-plate

(One of my favorite macro plates, from Ozu on the upper west side)

What is macrobiotics exactly? Macrobiotics is not just a diet – it’s a lifestyle. The etymology of the word, from etymonline, is:

macrobiotic (adj.)
also macro-biotic, “inclined to prolong life,” 1797, from Greek makrobiotikos “long-lived,” from makros “long” (see macro-) + bios “life” (see bio-). The specific reference to a Zen Buddhist dietary system dates from 1936.

I don’t want to get into too much detail *yet*, because it’s not March yet, and March is going to be a month of macrobiotic-inspired posts and macrobiotic-inspired living. But I wanted to alert you guys that I am going to focus on macrobiotics next month, and if you have any questions about the lifestyle or diet or whatever, please leave them in the comments!

I came across macrobiotics for the first time about three years ago through Meg Wolff, a (two time!) cancer survivor who has by now written several books on macrobiotics. I am certainly not strictly macrobiotic but I love the food and I love the idea of the lifestyle. I would love to be more macrobiotic. 🙂

Anyway, I am going to try to focus on ADDING macrobiotic principles to my life in March. I’m not trying to change or remove anything I currently do, but I’m going to add good things.

(OK I lied – I AM going to try to remove diet soda – I slip up and have it at least 1-2 times a week. It’s totally NOT macrobiotic. Blah!)

So –

What are your macrobiotics questions?

What do you know about macrobiotics? What are the stereotypes you’ve heard?

Have you ever tried a macrobiotic diet or lifestyle?

Care to join me in Macrobiotic March?

If you want to join me, I’ll make a Macrobiotic March tab and put a list of participants. Just let me know! Contribute anything you want.