Macrobiotics means "Large Life"
8 MAY, 2015 BY MARJOLEIN VAN SONSBEEK, Pilatesglossy International
Melanie Brown Waxman - mother of 7 children- is a highly respected macrobiotic practitionar. In my search for macrobiotic knowledge, I found a book written by Melanie with the title "Eat me now!" that inspired me to learn more about this wonderful healing lifestyle; Macrobiotics means "Large Life". Melanie has written more cookbooks on macrobiotic cooking, health and nutrition. I am very proud to feature Melanie on Pilatesglossy. Enjoy this interview and I hope that you get inspired too!
When did you began to specialize in macrobiotic education and cuisine?
My studies in the healing arts began in the early 1980's in London, and I went on to specialize in macrobiotic education and cuisine, food energetics, counseling, bodywork, and Feng Shui. I worked with clients and students from all over the world, while living outside Philadelphia where I ran my own business. I have a common-sense approach to health and healing which is easy to apply, down to earth, and realistic. I have lived in 4 countries (UK, USA, Portugal and Spain) and am the mother of 7 amazing children. In 2009, I was given the Aveline Kushi Award for my long time dedication to macrobiotics and world peace. I now work as a Nutrition and Health consultant at the SHA Wellness Clinic in L'Albir, Spain.
What made you live by the rules of Macrobiotics?
I don't see myself as living by any rules. I feel macrobiotics is more about choices, taking responsibility, and feeling empowered as a result. There are general guidelines to help people get started with macrobiotics more specifically towards food and cooking. What attracted me was that the food tasted delicious, the philosophy made sense, and I felt better mentally, physically, and emotionally. Macrobiotics opened up a whole new world and a completely different way of viewing life.
How is your way of life different now than how it used to be?
I have been practicing macrobiotics for the past 32 years. These days, I have less of a need for material things. I am happy to live more simply and spend as much time outdoors as possible; hiking, gardening, riding horses, biking, or sitting by the sea. I am also more and more concerned with environmental issues especially with regards to the treatment of animals both domestic and wild. This wasn't the main reason I started macrobiotics but has now become an important part of my life.
What part of Macrobiotics do you find the hardest?
Funnily enough I have never found macrobiotics to be difficult. It made sense, I loved cooking with so many fresh ingredients, and I felt that I was making a difference to the world by choosing a plant based diet. Some people worry about the social aspect but this really wasn't a problem for me as my friends approved and accepted my choices. Today there are so many options when eating out and the general trend towards healthier eating makes macrobiotics doable.
What do you eat on an average day? Are there certain things you miss in particular?
During the week I eat plant based foods like miso soup, whole grains, plenty of vegetables cooked in different ways, sea vegetables, nuts, seeds, sauces, dressings, simple sugar free desserts and herbal teas. At weekends I might go out for dinner or have something special if I feel like it. I don't miss anything because I feel it is my choice to eat it or not. I never feel denied. There is a difference between foods I eat on a daily basis which I call life sustaining compared to those I might have once or week or on special occasions. Those are nourishing on a different level, more from the perspective of sharing with friends and family.
How has Macrobiotics changed you physically and mentally?
The first things that come to mind are that my energy increased, I had greater stamina, and my creative and intuitive abilities developed. In fact as I get older, I have even more energy than when I was in my 20's. I have 7 children and macrobiotics helped me to be much more calm, patient, understanding, and able to handle challenging situations. I really don't think I would have been able to raise the children in the same way if I had been eating 'regular' food. My children are physically strong, intelligent and very independent. People always ask for me how my kids were so well behaved, happy yet spirited, and rarely saw a doctor.
Are you still studying Macrobiotics? If so, what are your latest eye-openers?
I feel that macrobiotics is a life time study. There are always new aspects to consider as everything changes. The diet is not a' one shoe fits all' and can be adapted to suit age, culture, environment, activity or condition. So there are constant adjustments and learning about new foods or combinations. To me cooking is an art and I have always found such joy in creating new dishes and playing with the combinations, color, taste, and energy. Personally I feel macrobiotics includes other healing modalities and I find those fascinating too. I gave bodywork for many years and always enjoyed learning different techniques from various healers.
Is there a sport you practice?
I rode horses since I was 8 and competed in big competitions especially eventing and dressage. Today, I still ride horses but much more sedately and for relaxation. I cycle everywhere and walk in the mountains with my dogs. I like to do a combination of stretching, yoga, Pilates, and makka-ho. Makko ho is a series of simple stretches that use all the meridians in the body. Great because it only takes about 15 minutes and good when time is limited. Also sometimes I do Chi qong. I keep it varied.
Have you done Pilates before?
I first heard about Pilates in the 80's when a friend became an instructor. No-one really knew about it then but is sounded very interesting to me. I didn't actually try it until much later but have always enjoyed the exercises and how I felt after. We offer Pilates at SHA and it is very popular. I am amazed how it has spread throughout the world and many of our guests practice in their countries.
What is your view on macrobiotics?
Simply put, Macrobiotics is a practical approach to living based on the foods we eat, the energy that surrounds us and the relationship we have with our environment. I feel that macrobiotics also means to live with awareness, slow down, appreciate the simple things in life and have fun. The word means 'large life' and embraces all the various realms that influence our health, freedom and happiness; such as whole foods, spiritual practice, exercise, connecting to nature, self realization, creativity and cooking.
Macrobiotics had quite a hippy image for a while. Do you think that's still the case?
I am fortunate to work as a nutrition and health consultant at the SHA Wellness Clinic in L'Albir, Spain. We have guests from all over, many who are influential, well known and hold top positions in the world. We have helped and educated thousands of people on the benefits of healthy foods and how to adapt it to their often hectic lifestyles. The diet at SHA follows the principles of macrobiotics. The elegant restaurant serves 3 macrobiotic meals a day including special healing drinks to help guests enjoy a sense of well-being. Everything is beautifully presented, taking into consideration the seasons, combinations of healthy, healing ingredients, and delicious flavors while maintaining an essence of haute cuisine. This is a far cry from the hippy image of the past.
Do you teach courses in Macrobiotics? If so where?
I have taught cooking and given lectures throughout the US, Europe, and Israel, including private and public classes, summer conferences/camps, the Kushi Institute in Becket Mass. and Concord Institue in London. At SHA, we offer private and public cooking classes, and will soon have a cooking school for in depth study.
Do you live a 100% plant based lifestyle? If so, does that extend to your clothing and shoes and such.
I try as much as possible to live such a lifestyle. I would say shoes are the biggest challenge as they are either leather or man-made. It is hard to find lovely shoes made only from fabric and natural materials.
Which books have you written?
My published work includes -: 'Upbeat Macrobiotic Cooking for Family and Friends', 'Mr Hoppity's Color Me Cookbook for Kids', 'Bless the Baby', 'Yummy Yummy in My Tummy', 'Eat Me Now!' and The Little Carrot. My book Eat Me Now is for students and busy people. The recipes are simple and easy to prepare. People find the cooking tips and information extremely helpful in getting started with whole foods and making healthy meals.