Interview With Melanie For Spabreaks
Please enjoy this interview that I gave for spabreaks.
Melanie Waxman is the type of mum you thought only existed in the pages of Cotswold kitchen catalogues - think earth mother with a hint of free spirit and a juxtaposing soup of city-girl spark. Living close to Philadelphia she writes, cooks and teaches the art of macrobiotic living; but this isn't a woman promoting an inaccessible fad, Waxman lives by the practice she preaches and has proved its workability by raising her own children on the lifestyle... all seven of them!
What does macrobiotic mean?
Macrobiotic actually means 'great life' and is a holistic approach
that explores the health of our body, mind and heart. This includes
food, meditation, exercise, healing, eating habits, connecting to
nature, self-awareness and cooking. The dietary aspect is enjoying
organic, whole, living, seasonal foods including whole grains, beans,
vegetables, sea vegetables, nuts, fruits, seeds, and natural
fermentation. Added to these are different seasonings, whole-wheat
pastas, sourdough breads, sugar-free desserts, fish, cracked grains and
How did you first become interested in macrobiotic eating?
I first heard about macrobiotics when I was twelve when my mother ate a macrobiotic meal
prepared by the son of one of her friends - I was horrified to hear
that she ate seaweed! I dabbled with eating brown rice when I was
sixteen but my feeble try lasted three days: I gave in to some biscuits
which seemed infinitely tastier than the three small bowls of brown rice
I had eaten in an attempt to cleanse my system. I actually started in
full force when I was twenty-one when I was in the fashion world.
Ironically the son who had cooked for my mother became my boyfriend; he
told me I would never gain weight if I ate this way - that was good
enough for me! I learned to cook and then embarked on an in-depth
oriental medicine course at the Community Health Foundation in London. I
was very enthusiastic and idealistic - Macrobiotics made sense and it
seemed to be the way of life I had been searching for.
Why did it interest you so much?
For me, natural foods tasted absolutely delicious, the macro
philosophy made sense, and it was practical and easy to implement. I
loved the idea that macrobiotics has its roots in the cooking of all
long-standing cultures and I felt that I was making a difference to the
planet by the choices I made. I also felt fantastic and appreciated the
fact that I could stay slender, look younger and have bags of energy
both mentally and physically.
Isn't it very restrictive? Doesn't it make eating out a bit of an issue?
I never felt restricted; rather it opened me up to a world of
different tastes, textures, ingredients, cooking styles and
combinations. Macrobiotics used to be thought of as a diet to cure
cancer but it is much bigger than that. You can enjoy Italian, Japanese,
Chinese, Greek, Indian or any ethnic style of cooking. It is learning
how to choose carefully when dining out so that you are making choices
that nourish you.
You have seven children, do they all follow a similar diet to you?
I have raised all seven on macrobiotic foods and they still enjoy cooking it for themselves today.
Children can be pretty fussy when they are small though - was that a problem?
When my children were small it was relatively easy to feed them a
plant-based diet. As they got older; sitting down, sharing and eating
together became a vital part of healthy, family life. The family meal
helped to create happy memories around food and a strong foundation.
They also started to develop their own tastes with certain likes and
dislikes so of course I took those into consideration.
Obviously one of the big areas that you focus on is
chemicals/pesticides on food... why are they dangerous and how do you
Processed foods are full of chemicals, aromas, flavors, pesticides,
preservatives, colorants and sugar; these are poisons that affect our
health deeply. Choosing to eat organic foods is a huge step towards
becoming healthy. It may seem more expensive in the moment but improved
energy and well-being has no price; the cost of days off work due to
illness, trips to the doctor and not being able to fully enjoy life is
far more expensive. We need energy to grow, think, move, play and
develop. Processed food has almost no energy and that is why people are
eating more and more to get what little they can, or they use strong
stimulants to keep going. When we eat organic, living foods we get a
strong energetic charge that nourishes us on all levels.
What difference have macrobiotics made to your wellbeing?
The biggest effect has been increased energy, incredible stamina, and
my creativity has blossomed. Many people experience mental clarity;
deeper, restful sleep; aches and pains disappear; emotions become
calmer; and they feel more able to handle stress. Others look younger,
have wonderful skin and hair, and generally feel happy and joyful.
Macrobiotic foods help to prevent simple ailments such as headaches,
PMS, allergies and a quick recovery from fevers, flu and colds. It has
also helped those with more serious problems form diabetes and heart
issues to cancer. It is empowering.
For people who want to embrace macrobiotic eating as a new way of life what are your tips for where to start?
Everyone can start to make healthy changes by simply including new
ingredients rather than cutting their present foods out. Increasing
whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits, and vegetables on a
daily basis has tremendous results. Start slowly. You can find most
foods in supermarkets today and it's a good idea to get some books on
macrobiotics and macrobiotic cooking or sign up for macrobiotic cooking
Is there anyone in particular who would benefit from it?
Everyone! It is a wonderful way to eat on a daily basis. The food
tastes delicious and the results speak for themselves. Macrobiotics is
very adaptable and non-prescriptive. You can vary the diet according to
lifestyle, age, location, race, culture and traditions!