Susun Weed interviews Gabriele Kushi
author of Embracing Menopause Naturally
30 minute on-demand radio interview with Gabriele Kushi
listen now or download MP3
Susun’s Introduction of Gabriele:
Gabriele Kushi, BFA, MEA, CHC, AADP is the director of Kushi’s Kitchen and author of Embracing Menopause Naturally. She is an internationally renowned lecturer on healing with natural foods and macrobiotics. Gabriele Kushi has a 30+ year, long, rich, successful history in the healing arts and the integration of body, mind and spirit. She is a board certified holistic health practitioner, macrobiotic counselor, and natural nutrition cooking instructor. Gabriele has a studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota and offers her long distance learning programs worldwide. Learn more about her book at www.wisewomanbookshop.com
Susun Weed: Gabriele, I’m so glad you joined us here today. I’m excited to be talking with you.
Gabriele Kushi: Thank you Susun for having me on your program. It is my pleasure to be talking to you and your listeners.
Susun Weed: Gabriele, for our listeners, perhaps we should start with a brief synopsis of exactly what is macrobiotics. Is it a diet, a belief system, a lifestyle, or is it something else?
Gabriele Kushi: The word Macrobiotics comes from Greek and it means loosely translated: long life. Macrobiotics combines holistic health, sustainable lifestyles and natural food approaches, with eastern health systems like the 5 transformation theory and the yin yang system to support body, mind and spirit.
The fundamental philosophy of macrobiotics is to embrace traditional ways of living and eating in harmony with nature to further personal and planetary health and peace.
Susun Weed: When did you first begin to incorporate a macrobiotic diet and lifestyle into your daily routine, and what led you to do so?
Gabriele Kushi: In 1971 after a 3-month severe sickness and hospital stay I discovered Macrobiotics and it was love at first bite –I was also drawn to the yin and yang philosophy of macrobiotic - the male and female aspect of the universal forces – and how these forces can be seen in everything, even in the food one eats.
If one for instance eats too much of yang food - like meet one is out of balance and one starts to grave yin foods – like sugar. Through Macrobiotic studies you will learn which foods are yin and which foods are yang. Which season is yin and which season is yang, and how to stay balanced in our daily live.
Susun Weed: What kinds of natural foods are parts of a macrobiotic diet?
Gabriele Kushi: The general Macrobiotic diet guidelines for the temperate zone emphasizes eating what is in season, local and organic when ever possible and balanced meals with whole foods. We stay away from refined products or chemical enhanced boxed foods.
Cooking is done from scratch - whole kernel grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley or millet, a wide variety of beans – soy, adzuki, black, legumes, then the root vegetables like carrots, daikon and the round shaped vegetables like squashes, onions, cauliflower, and the green leafy vegetables, plus condiments and seeds, nuts and seasonal fruits. We use fermented foods like miso and sauerkraut and sea vegetables like wakame, nori and arame.
Macrobiotics is not just eating brown rice. And as there are about 10 different food combinations to choose from – macrobiotic is not a strict diet. What combination is best for you depends on your condition, constitution and your dream or goal in life.
Susun Weed: Can you tell me what led up to the writing of this book?
Gabriele Kushi: As a macrobiotic consultant and cooking teacher who had lived a natural food lifestyle for many years, I understood the significance of food and its healing abilities in many physical imbalances.
Surprised by my first hot flash, the need to connect to the earth mother’s forgotten ancient symbols of menopausal women emerged, and ceremonies needed to be done.
Although it seemed too early, at forty-three, my menopausal passage had begun and lasted for five years. I naturally increased the amount of fermented soy foods and other plant hormonal regulators, like kale and daikon radish, when symptoms got too strong. I created new menus and taught Menopausal Cooking Classes. Some of my favorite recipes I included in the book.
An interest to connect with other menopausal women from diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences emerged. As I explored my changes and came to know other women’s stories, the book “Embracing Menopause Naturally” took shape.
Susun Weed: Your book, Embracing Menopause Naturally, highlights different women’s’ experiences with the menopause process as well as many different macrobiotic recipes. How easy is for the average person to cook macrobiotic meals at home?
Gabriele Kushi: If you already enjoy cooking – learning how to create balanced wholesome meals is easy to do. If the kitchen is a place for you to use the microwave to heat your water – we might have some work to do. My macrobiotic consultations and cooking classes make it easy for you to learn how to cook whole foods and make great tasting and balanced meals for yourself and your family.
Susun Weed: What did you learn from the various women you interviewed for your book?
Gabriele Kushi: I learned that every woman has a different menopausal experience. That the food and herbs a woman chooses before and during her mid-life and the mindset she has in regards to aging is of utmost importance on how she is experiencing this journey.
Susun Weed: You’ve been a macrobiotic educator for over thirty years. Had most of the women you interviewed and showcased in your book already adopted a macrobiotic lifestyle before your involvement with them, or did you introduce macrobiotics to them during this phase of their lives?
Gabriele Kushi: Some of the women have been longtime macrobiotic practitioners and some adopted a Macrobiotic lifestyle during their menopause journey. Both received benefits from a macrobiotic approach.
As you read the stories you will notice that the women who have been eating macrobiotic for a long time had an easy transition into menopause.
But also the short time approaches with macrobiotic balanced meals really made a big difference for my clients.
I would like to point out that the 21 menopausal stories of women with different cultural and personal background – Asian - European – African American – Native American, and South American provide you not only with macrobiotic stories, but also with spiritual - herbal - and ceremonial wisdome.
This kaleidoscope of these experiences is what I wanted to present to my readers.
Susun Weed: How important is it that a woman’s loved ones or family also participate in a macrobiotic diet/lifestyle?
Gabriele Kushi: The beauty of having a family is that meals can be shared together and the daily experiences are exchanged. This is found less and less in our society. – Yet it is a beautiful thing. Because macrobiotic food can be prepared in many different ways with a wide variety of foods – everybody can find something there like.
Susun Weed: Maybe this is a good spot for you to talk about hot flashes and the overall transformational process of menopause itself.
Gabriele Kushi: There are three stages of menopause and these are not very clear-cut, especially when passing through them, and can be determined only in retrospect. Also, the symptoms a woman experiences can overlap across these three stages: Peri-Menopause, Menopause and Post-Menopause. The changes a woman goes through during these years can be very profound on all levels of her being.
Eighty-five percent of the women in the United States experience hot flashes of some kind as they approach menopause and for the first year or two after their periods stop. Between 20% and 50% of women continue to have them for many more years. As time goes on, the intensity decreases.
Hot flashes are mostly caused by the hormonal changes of menopause, but can also be affected by lifestyle and medications. A diminished level of estrogen has a direct effect on the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling your appetite; sleep cycles, sex hormones, and body temperature. Somehow (we don't know how), the drop in estrogen confuses the hypothalamus—which is sometimes referred to as the body's "thermostat"—and makes it read "too hot."
Susun Weed: What are the benefits of a macrobiotic diet and lifestyle in relation to alleviating symptoms of menopause?
Gabriele Kushi: Two of the most important things women can do to ease menopausal symptoms are to maintain a constant blood sugar level, by regularly eating moderate and balanced meals, and to eliminate all hot flash triggers. To avoid hot flashes stay away from trigger foods with predominant yin (expanding) energy: sugar citrus fruits, sugar, tomatoes, strawberries, chocolate, spicy foods such as chilies, hot liquids with or without caffeine, and alcohol, especially red wine.
Foods with predominant yang (contracting) energy like; meat, eggs, hard cheeses, chips, and popcorn can also trigger hot flashes. Other conditions with a combination of yin –yang energy that trigger hot flashes are; hot and humid weather, a warm bed, clothing made of synthetic fibers, stress, anxiety, strenuous exercises, meals eaten too quickly, and overeating, or eating large meals.
Over time, a healthy-fat like omega 3 rich diet helps some women with hot flashes. Losing excess weight helps, but losing too much weight, or being too thin, can worsen symptoms.
Use relaxation and stress reduction: Relaxation exercises, Breathing exercises, Meditation, Visualization, Massage, Hypnosis, Yoga, Biofeedback techniques, Acupuncture, and as you well know Herbs
Susun Weed: What can you say about macrobiotics, weight-loss, and maintaining a healthy body weight for women in midlife by adopting a macrobiotic diet?
Gabriele Kushi: Macrobiotics responds to our innate wisdom of living and eating in harmony with nature. It teaches a natural food lifestyle that follows the rhythm of the seasons and the movement of nature’s healing forces as the foundation for a long life.
Supported by research, macrobiotic guiding principles enable women to make healthy choices for the midlife years and beyond. The guidelines for a balanced meal plan provide recipes for a lean and healthy body.
At around 40 the enzymatic function is lessening and combined with the hormonal changes in the body digestion starts to slow down. Choosing a Macrobiotic dietary and lifestyle approach with whole grains, beans, tofu, sea vegetables, seeds, nuts, healthy oils, seasonal fruits, berries and wild fish, which can be easily integrated into any lifestyle. Such foods are inherently rich in phytoestrogens, calcium, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, and proteins, and help to provide your body with the necessary phyto-estrogen and enzymes to maintain a healthy body weight.
We also have to eat less and exercise more to maintain our weight.
Susun Weed: Can you address some of the major health concerns specific to women at this stage of life and how macrobiotics can help?
Gabriele Kushi: A balanced diet and exercise have been proven to be positive choices not only for women dealing with menopause, but also for those dealing with midlife issues like heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. Testimonies from women and recommendations from medical doctors sympathetic to holistic health care confirm the findings of researchers: with a holistic and natural food lifestyle, midlife issues and the menopausal passage can be eased.
Macrobiotic food combinations - all whole and natural - include all components of healthy eating and are a rich source of fiber, protein, phyto-estrogen, oils, minerals and vitamins.
The stories of many women confirm the importance of natural food and a balanced lifestyle in dealing with midlife health issues.
Susun Weed: Are there any common myths and misconceptions about menopause?
Gabriele Kushi: Menopause is a natural passage can last from two to fifteen years. It is a transformational process, a letting go of the old self with a rebirth of a new self.
If a woman sees menopause as an initiation, then she can draw inward for a period of time and isolate herself. Then, the signs of hot flashes, headaches, and emotional outbursts become allies of wholeness instead of a problem. The ripping away of the old can become a period of mourning and desperation. The rebirth is seen as a total metamorphosis to a new self. If a woman chooses to experience menopause in this natural way, she is empowered to fulfill her life’s mission after completion of these three spiritual stages.
Susun Weed: Your photography and artwork also play a role, adding to the striking visual quality of your book. Tell me about your pursuits in these areas.
Gabriele Kushi: I have a BFA summa cum laude in Photography and Fine Arts, and my art photography always evolves around the feminine. For this book it was important for me to connect with the menopausal women not only through their voices but also let their experiences emerge through their portraits.
Susun Weed: What do you hope people take away from reading your book Embracing Menopause Naturally?
Gabriele Kushi: Women are the source and inspiration for great wisdom in the world that is passed from generation to generation. When they go through menopause and no longer give birth to children, they can direct more of their energy to nurturing their societies and communities. They can eventually become respected elders, with many years of experience and knowledge to give to others. This book is going to support women to find their spiritual gateway to their purpose in life.
Susun Weed: Where should people go to purchase your book?
Gabriele Kushi: The book is available where books are sold. Like Amazon dot com, Barnes & Noble, your neighborhood bookstore and even health food store. You can also order Embracing Menopause Naturally at www.wisewomanbookshop.com
Susun Weed: Your website, www.kushiskitchen.com mentions counseling and coaching among other things. I don’t want to leave out something important. Tell us about what you do and how anyone who is interested can get in touch with you.
Gabriele Kushi: Susun, I like to travel, eat, and make photos. What your listeners probably mostly are interested in are my Macrobiotic Holistic Health and Natural Nutrition Programs, as well as my phone counseling sessions. The easiest way to get in touch with me is to visit my website www.kushiskitchen.com, and send me an e-mail with your requests.
Susun Weed: Gabriele, thank you so much for being here with us today. Listeners, The information on where to get Gabriele Kushi’s book “Embracing Menopause Naturally” is also posted at our Radio show page www.wisewomanradio.com .
Gabriele Kushi: thank you Susun, it was my pleasure.
Listen to the Interview with Gabriele Kushi
About GABRIELE KUSHI:
GABRIELE KUSHI, BFA, MEA the founder of Kushi’s Kitchen, and author of “Embracing Menopause Naturally” is dedicated to excellence in teaching macrobiotics to support a healthy and peaceful world.
For more than thirty years, Gabriele has taught people from all over the world and all walks of life how to become healthier and more self-reliant by choosing natural foods and sustainable lifestyles. She has published numerous articles on healing with natural foods and has spoken about macrobiotics on radio talk shows. Gabriele is a certified Macrobiotic Category One Teacher and Counselor for all Health Conditions. She holds a BFA summa cum laude in Photography and Native American studies, and apprentices with Native American medicine women.
About her Book:
Embracing Menopause Naturally
Menopause triggers physical changes and emotional and spiritual issues that call for a redefinition of the feminine self. Gabriele Kushi’s book Embracing Menopause Naturally offers insight for this passage through courageous stories and stunning images of women from different cultural backgrounds. Supported by research, macrobiotic guidelines, and deliciously healthful recipes, this book is a true companion for any woman who wants to nurture her own spiritual growth, adopt natural foods diet, and enjoy good health throughout the midlife years and beyond,
Embracing Menopause Naturally
• Stories, Portraits and Recipes
A Guide to balancing your Midlife Transition with Macrobiotics
by Gabriele Kushi
Macrobiotic Health Expert Gabriele Kushi presents a Guide to Menopause That Can Help Women Maintain Balance in Their Lives—Mind, Body, & Soul.
Embracing Menopause Naturally offers insight for this important life passage through courageous stories and stunning images of women from different cultural backgrounds.
Embracing Menopause Naturally is a true companion for any woman who wants to nurture her own spiritual growth, adopt a natural foods diet, and enjoy good health throughout the midlife years and beyond.
Gabriele Kushi is a certified macrobiotic health educator, counselor, and cooking teacher. For more than thirty years, she has helped people from all over the world and all walks of life become healthier and more self-reliant by choosing natural foods and sustainable lifestyles.
Order Embracing Menopause Naturally in our Bookshop
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