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Is there anything that actually tastes good on this diet?

I'm currently working for a man with cancer. He wants to
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 one meal.

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.

Verne Varona


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…for 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 this…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, I think.

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 won’t eat it because you are not using oil, then what good does it do him?)…make sure the veggies you use are really fresh…if he doesn’t like tofu, then serve him something else…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…cook his fish (if he eats it), in a delicious veggie broth for flavor…cook cauliflower, season and puree it for a lovely white sauce over noodles…make hummus for snacks with vegetable sticks…you see where I am going?

Christina Pirello


Everything tastes good on this diet provided:

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.

Sheldon Rice


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 food.

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.

Steve Acuff


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 simple food.

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 area.

Bill Tara



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