A Disorganized Kitchen & Emotional Eating: Hacks from Macrobiotic Counselor Warren Kramer

This husband of a belly dancer helps us kick the clutter out of our fridge and cupboards and makes it easy to find healthy food in our kitchens.

This is the fabulous conclusion of a three part interview with Warren Kramer, an internationally recognized macrobiotic counselor, who was a scribe for famous macrobiotic leader Michio Kushi for 10 years. This met when Kushi was counseling people one on one about what they were eating and how they were going to overcome the disease they’re facing, Warren was writing down the recommendations.

Warren has a wealth of experience on his own as well. He’s been studying the macrobiotic way of life for 30 years. If you’re not sure what macrobiotic means, please go back to the first interview in this series and check it out. I just read listened to the first and second part and they really bring me peace. It’s amazing what Warren’s voice can do for you and how simple life can be when we take care of ourselves and honor where we are made at this very moment.

So please enjoy this third part. One of the huge advantages of meeting with a counselor is they offer you awareness. You have to sit down and talk about what you eat, why you eat it and when you eat it and actually hold a mirror up to yourself and I just find that so powerful the work that you’re doing.

Warren: It is building awareness and its understanding the effects of food. The challenging thing is that most people just look at food nutritionally not energetically. We look at food in all ways. Is it cold? Is it warming? Is it dry or is it hard and how? Does it affect the body other than just having good nutrition?

Because good nutrition doesn’t always lead to health.

You have to look at the energetics of something. A tomato which has a lycopene in it and very nice for someone that has arthritis is not a good thing to have. Someone that maybe has anemia or very weak intestines, having bananas or tropical fruits which are high in potassium, so okay, they’re so good for us and probably not a good choice either. A woman who is maybe going through menopause and having hot flashes but happens to love garlic and loves a lot of spices, that may not be the best thing for her because it actually creates more heat and that’s also related to the liver where that’s coming from.

So we have to look at food energetically not just nutritionally. It takes awareness, takes some understanding and you have to look at both aspects. Of course, one size doesn’t fit all. That’s the hard part. Well what do I need?

Men have different needs than women, children have different needs in adults and so in macrobiotic education, that’s what we’re trying to teach. Many parents don’t even realize how much salt affects their kids. That actually is probably the worst thing you can do to children is over salt them more than anything because they are active, they’re growing and so lots of salt literally makes them more contracted. They really are uncomfortable in their bodies, having a hard time sleeping and craving sweets like crazy. So all the salty things, dry things we give kids not so good, they need more mild sweet things and good fats to grow.

Alicia: When I met with you I learned a lot about dry food. I drink a lot of water and it’s good to drink a certain amount of water. I think you can over drink water, right? You asked me how many dry things I eat. I never thought about that before. You said I could steam ybread instead of toast it sometimes. Try that. Pretty simple modifications that just raise your awareness of that energetic quality of food and other qualities that are not on their nutrition label, right?

Warren: Exactly, it makes a big, big difference. You know many people don’t think about rice cakes as they’re very dry but calories whatever, 10, 15 calories or hardly any protein or fat but they’re very dry and they do have an effect on the body.

We eat a lot of dry foods in this country.

A lot of chips, a lot of crackers, a lot of fries and very often, we crave those things, the more pressure we get inside. So the more stress pressure we get, then we want to try hard things and we’ve got to have them.

So there’s a whole thing with the balance because we don’t naturally return the balance easily unless we’re aware of what’s going on. So we perpetuate it over and over again with food choices that are often lifestyle choices. It’s really all about understanding food. The energetics, how we create balance and how we keep a good direction in life day to day.

But where it starts for most people, most important thing, sitting down, regular meals, regular times, just eating without being distracted, that’s the starting point.

The hard part is figuring out how to live a healthy life in an imbalanced society.

That’s the challenge for all of us. I’ve been doing this 30 years now. Yes, I know how to cook and I know you know these things pretty well. But still, it’s a challenge day to day to create balance, things happen, things come up. I had bring my car in this morning, things happen, life happens.

How will you create some order and stability in daily life?

And I think that’s really what people can benefit from the most especially as our modern time, we’re moving faster and faster, I think that will make the biggest difference for people.

Alicia: So you do your kitchen consultations too right, kitchen setup consultations?

Warren: I’ll go into someone’s home maybe locally here in Boston. I’ve also been going to people’s homes for couple days around the country. I’ll come in, do health counseling, look at how the center of the kitchen, teach people cooking, so I’ll do kind of mini like intensive programs in people’s home when I have time in my schedule from other cities that I go to. I love private teaching one on one, I always have. So I’ve returned back to doing that a little bit which I really enjoy a lot, yeah. I’ll go to someone’s home two or three days usually stay there, teach people, show people dishes, give them a consultation, set up the kitchen maybe go shopping with them etcetera, yeah, so, I do that as well.

Alicia: It sounds so beneficial for so many people who have never thought about the importance of their kitchen setup.

Warren: Oh yeah.

Alicia: What’s one of the first things that you usually notice in a kitchen and recommend that people modify?

Warren: Clutter. Clear up the clutter, make it organized.

  1. If you have brown rice and beans, get it in jars, just really making order.
  2. Take out that shouldn’t be there that don’t need to be there.
  3. Same thing with the refrigerator. Make sure it’s ordered, it’s accessible, that’s number one. Just creating order, having things that are available.
  4. Set up the cabinets so you have those ingredients available by making them accessible not keeping them in tons of bags, stacked them on all over the place whatever, have it nice and structured that’s the beginning.

Alicia: You want to enjoy being in your kitchen, right?

Warren: It should be easy to be accessible. You shouldn’t spend a lot of time having to hunt and find things.

Alicia: What’s your favorite plant-based dish?

Warren: My favorite place is dish, I love anything with chickpeas. I love garbanzo beans. So you know I’m a big hummus guy, I love chickpea vegetable soup. I like chickpeas stews, anything with chickpeas. I love garbanzo beans. I mean falafels, anyone knows me knows I love my falafel with other beans, not always chickpeas. I love Middle Eastern food. I like a lot of different types of food, but if I have to say one though I really love chickpeas make me happy.

Alicia: I don’t know how this is energetically, but I make a big pot of chickpeas when I make them because it takes hours to cook them for some reason. It takes so long but the smell of them just freshly cooked is still good and then I actually put them in little containers and put them in the freezer. You guys don’t eat too much frozen…

Warren: I don’t freeze a lot of things because it takes the vitality away from it especially, vegetables you know freeze. I make chickpeas probably once every 10 days, once a week. I make some every week, make chickpeas soup with some of those beans that I made. I could just eat them warm with a little bit of olive oil.

Alicia: How long does it take you to cook chickpeas?

Warren: I pressure cook them for about 40 minutes.

Alicia: Okay, I never put it in my pressure cooker, I should try that.

Warren: Soak them overnight, I get rid of the soak-water, pressure cook in 40 minutes with the piece of kombu (sea vegetable that makes beans more digestible).

Alicia: Anything else you want to share with our listeners?

Warren: I’m just going to go back to what I said before I hope people will think about what is they love to do in their life.

What makes them most happy?

What they really enjoy doing and with regard to food, eat in a way to support their life, not to get stuck on food for comfort or emotional things.

I’ve been focusing on the last number of years more emotional eating, eating over emotional things. I’m upset. I’m sad. I’m this and that. And while it’s comforting at the moment, the long term it’s not helping us.

Being able to distinguish my emotions and food. Really eating in a way just to support our health and dealing with emotional things are things that are troubling us in a different way. All of us know that food is not going to change that.

A chocolate cookie is not going to fix the car or help me feel better. So it doesn’t change anything. And so I hope people will focus on what their dream is, what makes them happy.

And I try to spend as much time as possible outside day to day.

Because I don’t think we’re outdoors enough and nature is really what heals us.

So I suggest to everybody get outside, a nice half hour longer each day, go to a park, go enjoy nature because it naturally relaxes our mind and our body, releases pressure, fresh air. We spend too much time inside. That would be my message.

Alicia: I know I do especially when it starts to get cold outside, I make every excuse not to go outside.

Warren: We need to be outside every day.

Alicia: Thank you so much Warren. So this is Warren Kramer. Again, check out: www.macrobioticnewengland.com to learn more about Warren and see if you actually want to get in touch with him too and see what he has to offer you.

Warren: Thank you and great to see you.

Alicia: You too!

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