Now that the holiday party season is over, I am left with 10 extra pounds of blubber, an itchy scalp, a pasty-pimply complexion and chronic bad breath. There’s only one way to deal with this mess. Gotta return to my good food regimen. That means sticking to a diet created by the rock star of Chinese medicine experts.
This is a timely topic because right now, up to half of all Americans have some type of chronic pre-existing health condition, according to a new federal government study. And that’s just here…our bad eating habits have been exported around the world (McDonald’s, anyone?) Things are so bad that even mass market retail giant Wal-Mart today announced a five-year plan to drop the prices on fresh produce and cut salt content in prepared items.
Who is Jeffrey Yuen?
So given our alarming lifestyle trends, I feel an urgency in introducing you to Jeffrey C. Yuen, an 88th generation Daoist priest from the Jade Purity Yellow Emperor Lao Zi School.
Over the years, I’ve taken his classes on Chinese herbs, acupuncture, reflexology, pediatric care and other topics. Along the way, we’ve become buddies. In getting acquainted with his fascinating world, I served a term on the New York State Board for Acupuncture (2002-2007). These days, I see him when he drops by my house to see how I’m doing, have lunch and play with the cats.
Even though Jeffrey is such a special person in my life, I haven’t written about him in more than 15 years. Back then, I did a story on Jeffrey in the New York Daily News. It brought him tons of unwanted phone calls from the media and folks hoping to book consultations.
Since he’s not interested in publicity or taking on patients, I felt really bad. But his wisdom is so precious that I want to try blogging about him. So I’m going to ask a favor of you. Out of respect for his privacy and work, please do NOT contact him.
So how about if we leave Jeffrey free to pursue his passion: teaching a deeply personal, close-to-nature approach to acupuncture and herbs. He travels the globe, training a new generation of practitioners — from conventional Western physicians to doctorate-level herbal students.
Learning with Jeffrey Yuen
Even though Jeffrey’s low-key, you can still learn from him. His Jade Purity Foundation has details on his classes, workshops and book recommendations. While Jeffrey does not take patients, visit the Jeffrey Yuen Student Directory. This is a vetted list of professional acupuncturists and herbalists who were actually trained by him.
What I like about Jeffrey is that he doesn’t have a Chinese-is-superior mindset. This is an expert who vibes with the essential oils used in aromatherapy (a French tradition). He also often suggests Western vitamin supplements for me. And he’s the one who got me into rolfing with Cathy Allen (an American tradition).
By the way, below is an illustration of how acupuncture works. Each major organ has energy channels running through the body. The channels contain key points. These points are where an acupuncturist will strategically insert needles.
There are many approaches and factions in this medical field. Jeffrey’s into the classic principles compiled through the centuries by earlier Daoist priests (pronounced DOW-ist and sometimes spelled “Taoist”).
These guys were the opposite of Confucius freaks. Think of them as ancient hippies who meditated their way into creating what we now know as acupuncture.
This elegant science involves inserting hair-thin needles into the body’s key energy points to address medical problems. Herbalists know about these energy channels too and reflect on them as they mix herbal formulas based on dried roots, barks, berries and flowers.
We are what we eat
When it comes to food, Jeffrey believes that we are what we eat. And when I met him 20 years ago, I was a junk food queen.
The first thing I had to do was quit my sugar addiction. Next to go were products made of refined flour — pasta and bread.
For a while, I thought that eating Chinese food was the solution because if it’s Chinese it should be healthy, right? Not. Like every cuisine, Chinese cooking has tasty dishes that are just plain toxic. The thing I’ve had to learn is to choose energetically nourishing ingredients and food prep methods.
Jeffrey’s regimen supports digestion — which is why it has helped me to clear up skin problems and allergies — and skin problems associated with allergies. More and more of my friends are successfully using his approach and have become fans too.
If you think I look good at age 54, sticking to the stuff on this list has been my secret! Unfortunately, it takes tremendous discipline to do this diet. But it works. Even when I cheat (like, all the time), the general principles give me a structure to live by. Going with Jeffrey has put me way ahead of current trends.
Of course, I still love me some cakes, cookies and potato chips. But sparingly. Hey, even Jeffrey lets loose on occasion. Once, we went out for lunch and I watched, mesmerized, as he nibbled on french fries. ;-)
Jeffrey has a basic food regimen. The goal is to eat close to nature and nourish the body’s blood. This means eliminating/managing consumption of the 4 whites:
- No sugar
- No white flour
- No dairy/cow milk products/animal fat
- Minimal salt
Logic: sugar and white flour are refined and not close to nature; they are completely unnatural substances. Humans are the only mammals that still consume milk long past infancy (an unnatural act). Salt is natural but the amount we put in our food is unnatural. A certain amount of oil is good, but not in the form of excessive animal fat. And of course, fried foods are considered totally toxic. :-(
Now for the specific dietary guidelines:
- no white sugar
- no sugar substitutes, which are heavily processed & even worse than sugar
- no tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, coconut, oranges, limes, lemons, bananas, papaya, avocado)
- limited juicy fruits (grapes, watermelons, plums)
- honey is better than sugar. Honey is also better than maple syrup.
- no corn because it’s filled with sugar
- Good to have: apples, pears, Asian pears, blueberries
Flour & carbs
- no wheat or pasta made of white flour
- Okay: limited spelt, which is an ancient, rough grain.
- Okay: limited potatoes (red potatoes better; they’re less starchy)
- Okay to have: rice, oat
- Good to have: quinoa (high in protein; it’s a seed rather than a grain)
Dairy & fats
- Cow milk products are really bad
- Sheep milk is a little better
- Peanut & corn oil are terrible. So are peanuts, cashews, pistachios
- No mayonnaise
- No fried foods
- Avoid fermented milk, which is more commonly known as yogurt
- Okay to have: limited amount of goat milk product
- Okay: almond milk
- Okay: tofu/soy once a week
- Okay: few eggs per week (only two for a petite person like me)
- Good to have: olive oil, sesame oil
- Good to have: almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds
- No luncheon/deli meats because they’re full of salt
- Limit canned products because they’re full of salt
- Okay: sea salt, Bragg Amino Acids instead of soy sauce
- No duck, turkey
- Okay: limited beef
- Okay: chicken, lean pork
- No shellfish with legs (shrimps, lobsters, crabs) because they aggravate skin
- Limited sushi/raw fish
- Good: shellfish with no legs (clams, mussels, oysters, scallops)
- Good: fish (fresh water is better than ocean water fish)
- No tomatoes, green peppers, eggplants
- No onions and, definitely no onions in combination with beef
- Good: all dark, leafy greens
- Good: root veggies are great (beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, etc.)
- Good: sweet potatoes, squashes
- Good: string beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas
- Okay: limited broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage
- Okay: limited hummus, chick peas
- Okay: limited larger beans (eg kidney)
- Good: small black beans, black-eyed peas, aduki, lentils, mung
- No hard liquor
- No soda
- Limited caffeine, especially coffee
- Decaf products are worse than caf products because they are more processed
- Good: LOTS of water, especially half an hour before meals to aid digestion
- Okay: very little juice
- Okay: a glass or two of wine per week