How to Stop Snacking: Macrobiotic Counselor Warren Kramer Interview Part 2
We’re going to continue with part two of this interview with Warren Kramer, an internationally recognized macrobiotic counselor, educator and cooking instructor, who was also the scribe for the famous macrobiotic leader, Michio Kushi for 10 years. Michio would meet with people who had some pretty serious health problems and give them recommendations. He had a clairvoyance around food, he could see what people were eating and could tell them what was hurting them.
So Warren has a ton of expertise in the realm of food and health and we’re going to get right into it. You travel around a lot because you go to people’s homes to do kitchen consultations and other in person consultations and you lecture a lot, so I was wondering if you have a travel tip?
Warren: Yeah, I do travel a lot. I teach in 11 cities in the US and Canada: each year, two or three times a year.
I’ll be honest with you I’m very fortunate. I don’t really stay in hotels hardly at all. And quite frankly, I wouldn’t have my health if I did with that much travel. I stay with people that host me. So it’s a little easier for me because I’m not eating out a ton and I’m specifically staying with people so I can cook while I’m there or someone help me out with cooking while I’m on teaching and counseling.
I do eat out maybe once a week, twice a week just for the variety of it and just because it’s nice to get a break from cooking, you know so I like to balance that way. But I try to make as good a choice as I can when I eat out. I’m pretty selective in terms of when I eat out. I’m not always necessarily going to vegetarian restaurants or macrobiotic restaurants because there aren’t a ton of macrobiotic restaurants. But I can choose carefully any kind of like ethnic restaurants I might go to: whether it’s Indian, whether it’s Thai, I try to ask for low sodium.
Quite frankly, that’s the biggest issue with eating out is the salt. I feel that is the number one issue, too much salt. Whether it’s soy sauces or salt that’s being used etcetera, but that’s what throws people off a lot because when we’re eating someone’s salt, then people start to crave more sugar or alcohol, and different sweets. There’s a tendency to overeat when you get salted out. It affects your sleep.
I think a lot of people don’t realize how much salt they’re taking. Just to be aware. Be conscious of how much we’re using. I think that is the biggest challenge. I think if people were more conscious about that, people’s health would be much better and people be more balanced.
So when I eat out, I’ll say no soy sauce and very little salt if possible. And sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s the most troubling thing is the salt. I mean you know I could ask certain just like pad Thai, leave out the sugar, you know leave out the kind of broth they’re using to make pad Thai, no egg. But that’s what derails people a lot, it’s the salt. That’s why I try to encourage people to minimize restaurant food so much.
Alicia: Yeah, because if you’re cooking for yourself and you’re avoiding added salt and sugar, then it’s really not delicious to eat out too much right? If you feel like whoa, someone just dumped in a bunch of sugar right?
Warren: Yeah, exactly. It’s nice for a break. You know it’s nice for variety. It’s social. I think it’s important for people to be able to enjoy that, to go out and not have to cook and clean up everything else. But the problem is that you get really salted out and a lot of people are affected. I don’t think people realize how much.
Alicia: So in addition to salt, is there another thing that you see as a very common source of poor health for the people that you see, the people that you know in the U S that you encountered?
Warren: Oh sugar, and junk food. I mean we eat so much and just too much sugar in this country, junk foods you know even just too much flour products, cookies and crackers and things like that.
My focus is really to try to get people to be more satisfied with their meals day to day. So there’s a little less snacking. You know I find that when people are enjoying their meals, really satisfied people are looking for stuff so much, not grazing all the time. I think that’s part of the problem.
We’ve become snackers in this country and grazers and not really “mealers”. I think we need to mealers, go back to having a good breakfast, having a nice lunch and nice dinner really satisfied with our food. Then we’re less likely to need other stuff. But we’re picking and grazing and part of it comes back to the fact that we’re not putting an emphasis on the importance of having a meal, each meal.
You know the meal is really sacred and it’s what anchors us in our life. The is probably one of the most important thing people can do. Make sure that for your meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, you’re sitting down taking 20 minutes eating your food, having some nice quiet time, hopefully enjoying it three times a day. People will be so much better off. What happens when people skip meals is people often will eat late at night, will overeat, not be satisfied and therefore constantly looking for something. I think that’s what makes trouble
Alicia: Do you think it also adds to this distractedness that’s very normal for us right now? I mean if you could sit down and focus for 20 minutes three times a day on your food and appreciating your food, it seems like that would also impact your ability to focus on the other aspects of your life?
Warren: Absolutely! You know our brain is connected to our intestines, so the condition of our intestines influences our thinking. So when we have an order and structure in our daily life and also when we know oh yeah okay lunch, I’m getting it this time, they just gives us a kind of like stability in our life in all aspects and stabilizes our blood sugar, stabilizes our mood, it helps with regard to our overall balance like cravings.
You know simple things like having lunch at 12 versus 2 o’clock in the afternoon, it’s a big difference. When people wait till 2:00, people’s blood sugar plummeted. So eating earlier, you’re more relaxed. Anyone who has a child knows you have to feed kids earlier and they’re happy. You know if you have a child, a 6-year old and we would say okay, Johnny today lunch is at 12, but tomorrow is 2:00 but the next day, there’s no lunch, then we go back to 12, then Thursdays is at 3:00, forget it, that creates this up and down with all body function and that’s when it goes back to what is in the beginning.
Macrobiotics is related to the environment. How do we connect with nature’s cycles? Regular meals at regular times, rising time, sleeping time. You know the funny thing is that people think that that’s being in a ball and chain around their ankle. But yet actually, the order and structure creates freedom and the goal of macrobiotic really in the biggest sense of it is to have the energy, the vitality to live your life, to do what you want to do.
The goal of macrobiotic is to be free.
If we don’t have a health, we’re not free. If we don’t have energy, we’re not free. The number one health complaint in the world today is fatigue. You know I tell people imagine you like a boundless energy, boundless like you just like superwoman and superman, you’re boundless, nothing is stopping you and you wouldn’t even be getting into junk foods in this that because you have so much energy because you’re full of vitality. So the goal macrobiotic is freedom and it’s basically what do you want to do in your life and then eating in a way to support your dream.
That’s why when Michio started in the early days, asked us what’s your dream? First of all, when you asked that when I was 20, 21 years old I know what he was talking about. I turned to a friend and said I dreamt about Dracula last night, what do you do?
Because no one ever asked me what’s my dream.
Now, of course, I realize it’s probably the most important question that I was ever asked. What’s my dream? Of course, what’s your passion? What nourishes you in your life more than just eating some food?
If people can focus on what really brings them the most joy in life, what they’re passionate about and then eat for your purpose, then it’s not hard to eat well. But if we’re miserable we’re not happy doing what we’re doing, then yes the Godiva chocolates big deal.
One of the Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey is going to like make a difference. It doesn’t make a difference.
You know for me that’s what macrobiotic is. So it’s really following your dream and eating in a way to support you as a human being. Michio, it was many years ago, I remember it’s very funny he said you know, if you want to be the best bankrobber in the world better than Al Capone, then eat in a way to become the best bankrobber. Whatever it is you want to be, you want to be the best artist, you want to be better than Picasso, then eat in a way to support that: it’s eating to nourish what we want to do.
Alicia: You know I’ve always loved that about macro. But nightshades and all these things kind of get eliminated, but it’s working towards freedom, right? It’s not forever. It’s really a matter of reclaiming your own health and your own ability to heal yourself, right?
Warren: Ultimately, we’re free to eat anything. It’s just important to know the effect of those foods. How are things affecting us, you know what’s the influence on our body and then choosing. So it’s really that’s the freedom that there is because we’re free to eat anything really. There’s no ball and chain around someone’s ankle about that.
Alicia: Thank you so much Warren. We’re going to split this interview up into three pieces so please tune in for part three. It’s going to be great.