The Macrobiotic Side of Mensturation Part One
Kushi states that when you eat macrobiotically and everything is in balance, there will be no cramps. Specifically in The Cancer Prevention Diet (p224) Kushi says that “ Cramps can be eliminated in two to three months on a balanced standard macrobiotic diet” yeah….. okay that is believable. Oh great, now I have to follow the diet, the macro lifestyle, and if I do happen to have cramps I am doing something wrong. First of all I think this is horse s&%t. But the macrobiotic diet has some elements that help us balance our cycle all month long.
Kushi goes futher and offers specific advice for eating for the menstrual cycle as follows (p 224 again)
“In order to have a smooth menstrual cycle, it is important for the woman to adjust her diet during the two halves of her month. During the first two weeks, between menstruation and ovulation, she should eat plenty of dark, leafy green vegetables along with whole grains and other more substantial foods to which she will be naturally attracted. During the last two weeks, between ovulation and menstruation, she will feel more comfortable if she reduces her intake of overcooked foods and avoids animal food altogether. Otherwise they will produce an increased craving for sweets, fruit, juices, salads, and lighter foods. To prevent this compulsion from arising, the woman can eat more lightly cooked vegetables at this time along with lighter seasonings and less salt. Special dishes, such as mochi, turnip or radish tops, or amasake, are very helpful and will reduce cravings for more extreme foods.”
And Kushi’s take for an irregular menstrual cycle is that it
“results if the diet is imbalanced too much in one direction or the other. For example if it totals less than twenty-eight days, this usually indicates an overly yang condition from eating excessive animal and over energizing foods. A cycle longer than average, up to thirty-two or thirty-five days, shows that a woman may well be consuming too many foods in the yin category such as sweets, fruits and dairy food. Both conditions can be corrected by eating a more central diet of grains and vegetables”
And as to the cause of menstrual cramps “ are usually caused by an excessive intake of animal products, especially meat, fish, eggs, and dairy food in combination with too many expansive foods such as sugar, soft drinks, refined flour, and chemically processed foods. “
So that is his take. Notice he doesn’t really take on the concept of PMS, nor any present tense way of coping / easing cramps. So if you are in the throws of menstruation just balance yourself better next month. While this may provide a long term treatment, it does not address short term treatment, nor does it address the science behind the macrobiotic causatives. I am not picking on Kushi, but there are no specific food recommendations to eat our way out of our cramps. Personally I look at macrobiotics as my path to eat my way out of my issues and when I have cramps menstruation is my issue. I want to be able to eat my way out of the cramps and have some easing from my diet.
Jessica Porter in the Hip Chick’s guide to Macrobiotics on pages 265-266 describes menstruation in terms of yin and yang as follows
”during the time between menstruation and ovulation, the uterus is repairing its lining or endometrium. The body is concentrating it’s energy toward this effort and toward the follicle maturing in the ovary. This phase is more yang”
Which would mean balancing this phase with more yin aspects of macrobiotics. This is in agreement with Kushi’s statements just more specific on the bodies activities during this first half. Ms Porter continues toward the yin phase as
“during ovulation when the egg is released, extreme yang becomes extreme yin” It is interesting that she would put it this way as theorem eleven of the Twelve Theorems of the Unifying Principle puts it “ At the extremes yin produces yang and yang produces yin” So Ms Porter is identifying this theorem into her relation of the menstrual cycle.
She continues “If the ovum is not fertilized, the body becomes more yin, prepares to shed the endometrium , and phase two concludes with the hormonal signal to release” so then we would balance the yin with the more yang food in macrobiotics. And you would crave the more yin foods ( chocolate, sugar, alcohol ) as your body is in the time of greatest expansion.
So if you eat foods that correspond to your cravings you are actually making your issues worse in this respect.
Her issue then to reduce PMS is to go easier on yang foods as follows
“Reduce or eliminate fish or any other animal food.
Reduce salt intake go easy on seasonings, pickles, and condiments
Reduce or eliminate all bread and baked flour products
Avoid White sugar. But go for sweets like rice syrup, barely malt, or even maple syrup
Emphasize leafy greens and lighter cooking styles
Feel free to reduce whole grains, emphasizing vegetables and grain products.
Go for lighter grain dishes like bulghur wheat, couscous, and noodles
Have some fruit
If you’re in good health relax with a soy chocolate ice cream sundae
If you are in good health and not a recovering alcoholic have a beer or some sake”
Her main advice is to stay yin and eat good quality macrobiotic food “can make your period a comfortable, even joyous expression of your alignment with nature. For lessening cramps see Daikon Drink “
½ cup grated to a pulp daikon
½ cup spring water
1-2 drops shoyu
Prepare as follows Bring daikon and water to a boil, add shoyu. Let simmer a couple of minustes. Drink / eat when the temperature is right for you.
I think this might actually help though I have no personal experience with this beverage. Dirk mentions daikon in Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy as replacing his craving for coffee that first night he was in New Hampshire. Daikon does provide that yin satisfaction without going to the extreme or coffee, chocolate, or even the other things that Ms Porter recommends in Hip Chicks.
So where does this leave the non macrobiotic eaters among us? When I first agreed to write this blog in chat I had an intention of maybe spilling a few quotes from Kushi, a few quotes from Hip chicks, laughing about how men think and discuss menstruation and then moving on to some other facts I had discovered recently about the mechanism of menstrual cramps. I didn’t want to exclude the group of us that are not eating macrobiotically, and I wanted to offer some wisdom that I have found recently, and instead this blog broke down into a macrobiotic perspective on menstruation and cramps. While this is great knowledge, I wanted to stop here and put the science of cramps in a different blog with this as background and as helpful advice to all of us macros.
I have to say that I don’t appreciate the macrobiotic perspective on menstruation so much. I feel like that if I do have cramps it has become my fault because I am not eating well. Macrobiotics eliminates so much of the western diet, that I feel I am eating very well, and just when I think I am doing well and not cheating, the cramp police come around and tell me I need to do better, or that I shouldn’t have cramps at all if my diet is really balanced. I think it is definitely possible to eat well, be macrobiotic and still have cramps. Stress and genetics, along with diet play a role in menstrual cramps. Do I think macrobiotics can reduce the severity of cramping and PMS symptoms? Definitely. Do I think it is a cure all for all women NO!!!
A big resounding NO there.
Tracy made the comment that she would like to put a number of women that had eaten macrobiotically for a long time in a room and have them discuss Kushi’s comments on this issue. I agree and I think that they should write a book on menstruating macrobiotically. I think it is a shame that women ( with the exception of Jessica Porter) don’t seem to get more into writing the philosophical side of macrobiotics and seem to confine themselves to the recipe side.
Dirk is correct, maybe because men “are stuck with their wordly dreams to build a bridge, write a book, start a fishing business in Alaska, pave a highway. They need their dreams of these little accomplishments. It is all God has allowed them” they write the books on macrobiotics. While women create children , create family and our “ health and position in the world is essential for the future of mankind” (p 151) we sisters of the grain that live macrobiotically need to take the time to scribe the experiences of our health for benefit of our fellow cowgirls and for the benefit of the universe. Mensturation is a key component of procreation and macrobiotics is essential for better quality blood, the blood of our lives and the blood of our children.
Yours in Hope Faith Peace Love and Whole Grain
|Posted 12-08-2008 at 03:48 AM by asmay|