Standard Diet and Healing Diet

Foods to Eliminate While On Healing Macrobiotic Diet

Healing Macrobiotic Diet-Transition and Discharge Phase

General Suggestions

Methods of Cooking and Food Preparation

Setting Up Your Macrobiotic Kitchen

You Must Have "Good Blood Quality" For Best Health

Common Mistakes In Beginning Macrobiotic Practise

Condiment Guidelines/ Use of Leftovers and Reheating Foods

Maintaining Macrobiotic Practise While Travelling

Transition and Discharge

What's Wrong With Soft Drinks?


Dairy Products




Transition & Discharge

(Parts adapted from The Book of Macrobiotics, by Michio Kushi with Alex Jack, Japan Publications c. 1987)

Many people ask “Is it preferable to start macroblotics by jumping in with both feet and changing my diet 100%, or to gradually introduce the new foods and slowly let go of the old ones?” In most circumstances the answer is that the greatest results are achieved with the greatest change. So, to begin 100% macrobiotic eating is easiest and best. In order to develop a taste and appetite for the new foods it is helpful to refrain from eating the old ones. The grains, beans, and vegetables that make up the standard macrobiotic way of eating complement each other and you’ll experience the most complete nourishment by including them all straight from the beginning. Also in order to recover health, it is important to eliminate, without delay, the foods which may have weakened you and contributed to degenerated body conditions.

When beginning the practice of a diet to recover the health, it is not uncommon to experience some unusual physical and mental symptoms. Some of these may be uncomfortable but are no cause for alarm. Most of these symptoms are helpful signs that the body is responding to recent dietary change by eliminating (discharging) accumulated excess resulting from past eating. These symptoms of discharge and adjustment are part of the natural healing process and signify that our systems are regenerating themselves, dislodging and throwing off the excess that has accumulated over many years of imbalanced diet and lifestyle. The reactions of a normal and safe transition should last no longer than several days on average although a few symptoms may last up to 4 months until our blood quality changes thoroughly. Some of these reactions may be generally classified as follows:

General Fatigue: If you ate an excessive amount of animal protein and fat you may experience a feeling of general fatigue. The energetic activity you may have previously experienced was the result of the vigorous caloric discharge of these excessive foods rather than a more healthy, balanced, and peaceful way of activity. You may initially experience physical tiredness and slight mental depression until the new diet starts to serve as an energy supply for activity. Such a period of fatigue usually ends within a month of balanced, varied eating.

Aches and Pains: You may experience aches and pains especially if you have been taking excessive liquid, sugar, fruits, or any more strongly expansive food and drink. These aches and pains – most commonly experienced as headaches, lower back aches in the kidney region, intestinal cramping, and aches in the joints occur most frequently because of the gradual contraction of abnormally expanded tissues and nerve cells. These aches and pains disappear either gradually or suddenly - as soon as these abnormally expanded areas return to a normal condition. This process usually takes between three days to two weeks, depending on how much volume and for how long you indulged in these stronger foods.

Sometimes headaches, lower back aches and other discomforts occur from contracting the cells and tissues too much or too quickly, This can result from the overuse of salty seasonings, dry, baked or roasted foods, overly simple meals for a long period of time, overcooked food, unbalanced meals, meals lacking in lightly cooked vegetables, or the excessive use of condiments, pickles and sea vegetables. It is helpful to consult an experienced macrobiotic teacher for advice if aches and pains persist.

Fevers, Chills, and Coughing: As the new diet helps the body form a more sound quality of blood, previous excessive substances – excessive volume of liquid, fat, and many other things begin to be discharged. If at this time the functions of the kidneys, urinary system, and respiratory system have not yet returned to normal, this discharge sometimes takes the form of fever, chills, or coughing. They are temporary and disappear in several days without any special treatment

Abnormal perspiration and frequent urination: Generally signs of the body eliminating excess liquid, you may experience more profuse or frequent perspiration and/or urination. It may occur for only the first week of your new eating or from time to time over several months. Also, many of you may be taking extra fluids initially in the form of special teas which act to rid the body of stored excess and stimulate eliminatory function. In this case, extra urination is quite acceptable. If in your previous diet you drank excessive amounts of fruit juice, stimulant or aromatic beverages (such as coffee, tea, alcohol, sodas, milk) and ate plenty of dairy food, sweets, and fruit, than it is likely that you will experience more liquid type discharges such as runny nose, temporary diarrhea or loose bowel movements and perhaps more urination. As you regain more normal metabolic function these discharges will cease.

Skin Discharges and Unusual Body Odor: Our skin acts as one of the largest elimination avenues. It is not uncommon for some to experience skin rashes, reddish swelling at the tips of the fingers and toes, red, white or yellowish pimples or boils. These types of elimination arise especially among people who enjoyed heavy and regular consumption of animal fat, dairy food, sugar, spices, chemicals, drugs, and those who have had chronic malfunctions of the intestines, kidneys, and liver. These elimination symptoms heal naturally and usually disappear within several days to a few months maximum without much special attention. The discharge of unusual odors (from the entire body surface, through the breath, urination, bowel movements, flatulence, and in women vaginal discharge) occurs most frequently in the first 4-6 weeks of new eating. These odors are largely the result of past overconsumption of oily foods, animal fats and sugar. These smells will cease naturally with in a week or two.

Diarrhea or Constipation: If you have had chronically disturbed intestinal conditions you may temporarily experience either diarrhea (usually lasting only a few days) or Constipation (for a period lasting up to twenty days). In this case, diarrhea is a form of discharge of accumulated stagnated matter in the intestines, including unabsorbed food, fat, mucus, and liquid. Constipation is usually the result of the contraction of the intestine which was previously expanded due to the former diet. As this contraction restores normal elasticity to the intestinal tube, the smooth movements of bowel elimination resume. In most cases it is preferable to allow the symptoms to pass unaltered by remedies. If the symptom is too strong to comfortably endure, then a simple adjustment to daily eating with the addition of a special tea may aid the intestine to return to normal more easily. Please consult an experienced macrobiotic educator for advice.

Decrease of Sexual Desire and Vitality: Some of you may feel your normal sexual appetite or vitality diminish or disappear. Don’t worry! This is temporary and in most cases is a sign that the sexual organs are healing actively, nourished by the new, stronger blood supply - and they are not yet prepared to resume normal activity. In some cases, particularly when you have taken plenty of medication and/or have endured major surgery, the body is working to restore vitality to the primary organs and all available energy is going towards that deep repair. Therefore, extra energy is temporarily unavailable for sexual activity. These conditions last only for a short period, usually for a maximum of a few weeks to at most a few months. As soon as this recovery period is complete, healthy vitality and desire for sexual activity return.

Temporary Cessation of Menstruation: Some women may stop menstruating for a period of one to four months. Once again, in this case the vital organs need to regenerate first and utilize all available body energy to recover their maximal functioning. Less vital functions, which includes reproductive activities, are healed later. The period of menstrual cessation varies depending on her past eating patterns, the strength of her native constitution, and the amount of drugs, hormones, surgeries, and other medical treatments she may have received. However, when menstruation begins anew, it is healthy and natural and begins to adjust to the normal 28 day lunar cycle. Healthy menses present little or no discomfort. Most women experience increased emotional calm, mental clarity, and physical flexibility after their period finishes. In order to reduce cramping and remain regular it is helpful to adjust daily eating by reducing or eliminating animal food from the diet for the week to 10 days prior to menstruation and to ease up on salty taste, dry, hard baked foods, and raw foods. Enjoy normal eating following your monthly menstruation.

Mental Irritability: If you have consumed plenty of stimulants (such as coffee, alcohol, commercial black teas, drugs, medications, and spicy foods) you may temporarily suffer from emotional irritability, impatience, and/or mood swings. This irritability reflects adjustments taking place in the blood and various body functions following the change to more stable quality of foods and it will generally pass within one to three weeks, depending on how deeply affected your body systems were by the previous use of such stimulants. The consumption of sugar as well as long-time cigarette smoking also produces temporary emotional irritabilty. Your new way of eating assists the body and emotions to release these old stimulants and return to calmer, more stable functioning.

Other possible transitory experiences: In addition to the above conditions, you may experience other manifestations of adjustment such as hair loss, bad dreams at night, coldness, mild depression, temporary changes in perception and sensitivity including the senses of touch, taste, smell, heating, and vision. These too will pass.

In many instances, the discharge process is so gradual that none of these more visible temporary conditions arises. It is in fact ideal to cleanse the body slowly, allowing the discharge of accumulated excess through means of normal elimination. However, when symptoms of transition and discharge do appear, the symptoms vary from person to person, depending upon their inherited constitution and physical condition, and usually require no special treatment, and cease naturally as the whole body readjusts to normal functioning.

The most important thing to understand is that the discharge mechanism is part of the normal healing process and it is best not to supress these symptoms by taking drugs or medications, resorting to vitamin or mineral supplements, or going off the diet altogether in the mistaken belief that it is ineffective, deficient, or creating allergic reactions. If there is any uncertainty or question about proper practise that arises during this transition period, a qualified macrobiotic educator or medical professional should be contacted. In most cases, all symptoms of transition and discharge pass away quickly without any cause for concern.


During the transition period, it is quite common to crave the tastes, textures, odors, and other characteristics of previous foods and drinks, especially those we enjoyed as children. This is entirely natural. In addition, many people strongly crave sweets and feel guilty about it. These feelings should be put aside and a more relaxed attitude developed. Such cravings are a natural biological phenomenon. We need only reflect a bit to understand what’s causing the craving. Usually, during the first weeks or months of the new diet, these cravings reflect the natural discharge process. As our condition improves, the toxins and mucus that have accumulated in our bloodstream and internal organs are eliminated from the body through the bowels, urination, perspiration, and other normal excretory functions. As they leave the body you are reminded of them and might crave them as a result. Later on, after your condition has stabilized, presistent nagging cravings signify that your diet is unbalanced in a certain direction – usually in the opposite direction – ying or yang – from the food to which you are strongly attracted. Thus, if you are attracted to fruit juice, ice cream, or chocolate you are most probably overusing salty seasonings, condiments, sea vegetables, and/or are probably overcooking your food or taking too much long cooked food without an adequate amount and variety of lightly cooked, mildly sweet food. You may be excluding oil for too long or not taking enough beans or bean products. If, on the other hand, you crave meats, fish, eggs, or salty food then you are very likely taking too much fruit, liquid, oil, sweetner, or other more yin food. You may also be forgetting to include enough well-cooked, sturdier dishes. In any case, these promptings are one of the body’s wise ways of alerting us to an imbalance in our eating and in some cases our activity and environment.

Rather than suppress these natural urges, it is best to acknowledge them and to satisfy them with the best quality foods. If cravings persist more than a day or two, please contact an experienced macrobiotic educator who can help you identify the dietary imbalance that may be causing the persistent cravings. In all cases, listen to your body and nourish it with the best quality, most natural food and activity.