I'm currently working for a man with cancer. He
give the macrobiotic diet a try; if fact, he believes
it is his last
chance. I've took a couple cooking classes and
read a couple books, and so far, I haven't found
one recipe that my boss(or I, for that matter)
find appitizing, or even okay-tasting.
He's very committed to this diet, so it wouldn't be a huge
problem except for the fact that he does have cancer, and
thus he doesn't have much of an appetite to begin with. The
fact that he has either a bland or bad tasting meal coming
certainly doesn't help matters, and I'm very concerned about
him getting the nurtition he needs.
If he isn't able to eat the food(or keep it down), then it
isn't doing him any good at all. Not to mention he isn't able
to follow the recommended percentages of each food at each
meal; he simply isn't hungry enough for more than two dishes,
if even that.
So, I guess I'm kind of hoping you would have some ideas,
or at least something that tastes good so that he will want
to eat...Any help is really appreciated.
I agree: if it's not palatable, he won't
keep it down. Of course, "taste good" is relative
to the person's previous diet and individual tastes. So, to
know about his previous diet would help to design a suitable
and more satisfying diet. I used to laugh at this idea, relegating
it to a "sentimental" approach, but experience has
taught that it's something, for the health of such a particular
client, that you cannot ignore.
Two things are the chief concern here: 1) Preserving his
nutrition; that is, making sure that he gets nutrients to
keep his functioning optimum and making sure that his internal
stress, whether it's emotionally based (and thus hormonally
driven) or nutritional (indicating the beginning of deficiency)
is at a minimum. The important thing, from a survival point
is caloric intake. The less he eats the more he loses.
This drives self-esteem, fear of dying, depression and lethargy
to new highs and is not conducive to well-being or real healing.
First, he needs adequate protein intake, whether it be from
mild infrequent animal sources or bean protein made more digestible
by longer cooking and the adding of vegetables, otherwise,
he will crave foods that are not health-supportive.
Also, small quantities of oil. I've seen nothing but trouble
from hard-core macrobiotic approaches that diminish all oil--it
shows up in overwhelming cravings, meal dissatisfaction and
poor cellular nutrition.
The "recommended" percentages cannot be set in
stone. More people screw themselves up and the possibility
of positive results by attempting to adhere to fixed percentages
that various macrobiotic teachers creatively set down. This
is another reason, why, in such circumstances, supplements
can be temporarily helpful, particularly minerals.
One important aspect of cooking for the sick is to pay attention
to textures. Appealing textures are soft, crunchy, moist,
dry, etc. A variety is what seems to be most appealing as
opposed to everything have a similar soft, warm and cooked
texture. Often, exclusively soft textures make the sick feel
sicker; as if their now committed to eat, "baby food."
Also, duplicating familiar foods can be more emotionally satisfying
and restore a sense of normality to many.
I once had a cook make a "grain burger" for a client
(he wanted to eat something, "American") with lightly
fried sweet potatoes, a side of beans, mock cole slaw and
a couple of bites of an apple pie, and although it was not
my ideal of a balanced healing meal, the client was beside
himself and found that his appetite was restored from that
Another idea might be to add mild spice, salt, or herb tastes.
Not every dish should have flavoring, but if it's not appealing
or stimulating to his taste, he will not be inclined to eat.
Can these factors negatively influence healing? Possibly,
in a subtle sense, at least, conceptually. However, I suspect
that it's better to have a slow consistent healing than to
attempt rapid healing with an approach that is not something
people can follow consistently or enjoy tastefully.
With cancer, especially for those who have loss of appetite,
eating at least a small amount helps to regulate blood sugar
and avoid the hormonal swings that are characteristic of waiting
long periods and then suddenly having strong hunger. Research
is showing that consistent fuel in the blood can minimize
these swings and not promote tumor growth.
That's about as much as I can offer, not actually counseling
this individual, and to do this would consist of extensive
interviewing, case history, etc.
I wish him well.
When someone has cancer and is just
beginning a macrobiotic approach, the food is most likely
to taste a bit bland to him/her. Think about it this way
years, people have eaten food that has deadened our tastebuds
and makes the subtleties of food seem like they do not exist.
It takes about a month for that to change and the milder
foods do not seem so mild. However, when you are hating the
food, a month seems like a very long time of 3 meals a day
that are boring and unappealing.
I do not know the type of cancer your boss has, but remember
it is more important that he stop eating the foods
that have helped to land him in this spot, so no meat, dairy,
simple white sugar, junk, coffee, etc. you know the drill,
In terms of what you can do to liven up the food, make sure
he gets lots of variety
use some good quality olive oil
in cooking (even if he is sick, a small bit of oil will help
him to like the food and eat it
and if he wont
eat it because you are not using oil, then what good does
it do him?)
make sure the veggies you use are really
if he doesnt like tofu, then serve him something
if he craves fruit, cook some to gentle the sugars
and satisfy his cravings
if he does not like veggies,
then make them into soups and puree them into creamy bisques
to satisfy him and get the veggies into him
fish (if he eats it), in a delicious veggie broth for flavor
cauliflower, season and puree it for a lovely white sauce
make hummus for snacks with vegetable sticks
see where I am going?
Everything tastes good on this diet
1. The food is cooked with good energy and skillfully after
studying with a trained macrobiotic cook
2. Your attitude is "how can I make this work" and
not "this doesn't taste anything like what I am used
to." Tastes change provided patience is exercised and
understanding that all does not change overnight.
I have been eating macrobiotic over 21 years; I have never
been bored with the lifestyle or the food. Reach a point where
will power is not the reason that it is working, but a deep
desire to feel better and connect with nature.
If your friend has trouble eating, be sure to make soft brown
rice cream daily; pan roast the rice, then pressure cook the
rice and water with a ratio of 1:5 and a pinch of sea salt
for 1 hour (1:10 ratio if a pressure cook is unavailable and
cook for 2 hours.) Squeeze out the liquid and drink. Eat this
rice. It is very healing even for the sickest person.
Consult with a trained macrobiotic counselor for further instructions
how to deal with your friend.
Don't be discouraged; you are doing a great service for your
friend. The effort alone is a great mitzva (Hebrew for good
deed); the results are up to God.
Macrobiotic food can indeed taste good.
The problem arises from the variety of opinions as to what
macrobiotic cooking is. Of course some lessons in MB cooking
would be helpful. However, a major hindrance to good taste
is the fat phobia that abounds. Anyone who takes basic training
to become a cook learns that fat is the taste ingredient in
It has been common in macrobiotic cooking to keep fat and
oil to an absolute minimum. This is unnecessary and promotes
boredom in taste. Coconut oil is good for the immune system,
and especially important for cancer patients.
You will not find coconut oil on the list of preferred oils
in macrobiotic books, as it is a tropical oil and theoeretically
too yin. Don't believe it. My experience has shown me that
it benefits cancer patients. Above all they do not get bored
and are more likely to keep going.
The use of garlic, horse radish, wasabi and ginger will also
add variety and taste to the food. In the end fat and oil
are the key to good taste.
I don't know how you are cooking the food
but simple food can and is tasty.
The problem often is that we are used to food that is seasoned
so that the tastes of the foods are not really familiar to
us. Adapt the recipes with the seasonings that you are used
to, use some herbs, make some sauces, use a little garlic
whatever is needed till you get used to eating and enjoying
As far as your boss goes it is more difficult. I do not know
any details of his condition but you might check and see if
there is a qualified macrobiotic cook in your area who has
experience cooking for the sick. They would be able to assess
what kind of cooking was suitable for him (or her) and be
more creative with the foods. If they are having trouble with
appetite try pureed soups or soft cooked grains with vegetables.
If they are really having trouble keeping things down it
is best that they eat anything they please - just making the
best choices. It is deffinitely better that they try and eat
something. Check and see if there are counsellors in your