Macrobiotic Holiday Survival Guide

By Margaret Trey
Margaret Trey
Margaret Trey
December 31, 2013 Updated: December 31, 2013

Christmas Eve is here at last. A crescendo in the holiday revelry that for many of us started weeks ago with parties and gift shopping. Now is the time to celebrate and count our blessings, and perhaps reflect on our life’s journey and make resolutions for the New Year. Now is the time to share our joy and happiness with our loved ones.

However, maybe it still feels like there are countless things to be done—last-minute gifts to shop for and wrap, Christmas decorations to put out, festive foods to make, or party drinks to buy.

All these activities can add stress and tension to the holidays as you battle the crowds and the clock to get everything done. So how can you stay calm and relaxed, and retain your energy and holiday pep? Below are a few simple ways to maintain your health and detoxify your body this holiday season based on the macrobiotic lifestyle.

The name macrobiotics was first used by and 18th Century German physician, Christopher Hufeland, in his book, “The Art of Prolonging Human Life.” Macrobiotics is a set of a diet and lifestyle principles that stem from traditional Oriental medicine and that aim to maximize the life force or qi energy in the human body.

Maintain Healthy Eating Habits

Sit Down While Eating 

In the midst of holiday excitement it is important to practice healthy eating habits. Remember to sit down and eat your food at the table instead of standing up or in front of the television. Make mealtimes a time to re-connect with your loved ones.

Eat Balanced Meals 

There is so much to eat and drink this time of year, but remember to eat a balanced meal that includes grains, vegetables, and some beans or animal protein. If possible, try not to snack between meals.

Eat At Regular Times 

This is hard when you have many activities going on, but try not to skip meals and try to eat at your regular times. Your body has an internal clock and eating at regular intervals actually helps your body regulate various functions including your hormonal systems. If possible, try to have your breakfast by 9 am, lunch by 1 pm, and dinner by 7:30 pm.

Chew Your Food Well

There is a well-known macrobiotic maxim which states, “Eat your drink and drink your food.” This means we should chew our solid foods thoroughly until they become liquid. This aids digestion, and slows down your eating, preventing you from gorging and overeating. Likewise, do not hastily gulp down your drinks but sip slowly. It is best to refrain from copious drinking during meal times, and optimal to wait to drink until half an hour after eating.

Take Communal Walks 

Consider taking a walk together with your friends and family. Most of us are dependent on our cars or public transit for everyday commuting, so while you have holiday vacation, make it a habit to walk a couple of blocks or more instead of driving taking the subway. Recent studies have shown that walking can help to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or having a stroke. So take those extra steps. They’re free and save you time and money on gym costs.

3 Cleansing Routines

The holiday season is a good time to do some simple things to reduce toxins in your body. Here we include three detox routines that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

1. Bancha Twig Tea 

Consider having a cup of roasted bancha twig tea after your meal. Also known as Kukicha, the twig tea is made from the stems of the tea bush. It is slightly alkaline and aids digestion.

To make the tea, place 1 heaping teaspoon of Kukicha to four cups of cold water in a pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high flame. Remove from heat and let the tea steep for a few minutes. Drink hot or cold.

To make second brew, add a pinch more of Kukicha twigs and repeat the above steops. Do not simmer the twig tea, as it will taste too strong and bitter. Kukicha is available in natural food shops and online. You can buy it in bulk or in teabags.

2. Top-to-Toe Body Scrub

This gentle body scrub can be done throughout the year, but it is ideal for the cold winter months, as it helps to quickly warm your body. It can be done three times a week, or even once or twice a day, and takes 10-15 minutes. You can sit on a stool if this is more comfortable for you. Make it a New Year’s resolution to incorporate this scrub into your year-round wellness routine. All you need is a washcloth and a small basin or a sink.

Here are the steps:

1. First, put some hot water in your basin or sink.
2. Wet the washcloth in the hot water and wring the towel to get rid of excess water.
3. Start by gently wiping the head—including the face, ears, and neck—without applying pressure.
4. Rinse the towel in hot water. It can be as hot as you can handle.
5. Proceed to gently wipe or rub the upper chest and armpits. You can let the warm towel rest on these areas for a few seconds. Rub these areas several times with the hot towel, until the skin becomes slightly red. If your skin is clogged with accumulated fats, it may take several consecutive daily scrubs to for the skin to begin to appear red.
6. Now clean your upper arms, forearms, wrist, hands, and the fingers, gently wiping one finger at a time in a downward movement.
7. Then wipe the torso and groin areas.
8. Do the same with the legs, ankles, and feet, wiping the toes one at a time. Rinse the towel and change the hot water as often as needed during the entire process.


This gentle body scrub helps to open the pores and discharge excess fats and toxins trapped in the skin. It helps keep your skin smooth and radiant by opening the pores, and improves circulation and energy flow throughout the entire body. The key lies in gentle movements, as vigorous scrubbing may seal your pores and prevent the elimination of toxins from the skin. Our skin replaces itself every 28 days, and gently wiping with a hot towel helps facilitate its renewal.

3. Foot Bath 

This third detox practice is easy to implement. Put a handful of sea salt in a bucket of hot water and immerse your feet in the water for 10 minutes. Make sure the water level is up to your mid-calf. You can add a few drops of peppermint, or rosemary, or lavender essential oil. The footbath is beneficial for kidney weakness, insomnia, and is a great way to warm up your body.

Dr. Margaret Trey has a doctorate in counseling from the University of South Australia. She was trained in oriental medicine, shiatsu, and macrobiotics, and was the director of Spirit Shiatsu in Australia for over 10 years. Now based in New York, she writes and continues her research on the effects of meditation on health and wellness.