Chinese medicine master Jeffrey Yuen’s essential health & beauty diet regimen

betty ming liu Food, Health 42 Comments

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.

Acupunture channels

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:

Sugar

  • 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

Salt

  • 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

Meat

  • No duck, turkey
  • Okay: limited beef
  • Okay: chicken, lean pork

Seafood

  • 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)

Veggies

  • 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

Beans

  • Okay: limited hummus, chick peas
  • Okay: limited larger beans (eg kidney)
  • Good: small black beans, black-eyed peas, aduki, lentils, mung

Beverages

  • 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

Comments 42

  1. Post
    Author

    over the summer, i tried blogging on this topic and it didn’t work because i didn’t mention jeffrey by name and the food list that i presented was sort of scattered. but in this post, i feel like i’ve really gotten down the key points. if doing this diet sounds impossible, try getting into it a little at a time. all at once is overwhelming.

  2. Post
    Author

    oh, one other thing….when i first saw the stomach’s energy roadmap, i had a revelation. chinese medicine associates emotional functions to each of our major organs. the stomach isn’t just about digesting food but digesting life. as a kid, i had the most awful acne — and today, the pock marks on my cheeks to prove it. well look at the picture above. the stomach channel goes through the face in all the areas where i was pimply. and of course, my parents made me miserable. so the combo of bad food and emotional misery had a real impact on my complexion.

  3. Post
    Author

    and as of 10:30 a.m., this post is complete. i needed to rewrite a little to make it more topical in light of recent news. and added some photos. future updates will be noted in the post as updates. ok, done. now i’m going for my semi-annual check-up with the holistic eye doctor. this guy’s crazy. will write about him soon. have a great day!

  4. Betty~
    I’ve a shelf full of vegetarian cookbooks, but sometimes what I need is a simple list of yes’s and no’s, so thank you for your post today. I know I won’t give up tomatoes, onions or dairy (I like cheese, yogurt & Italian food too much), but I can begin a more healthful lifestyle by eliminating tropical fruit, peppers, eggplant, cow’s milk, fried foods and white flour. Currently I eat meat only once a week, drink wine only a few days/wk, have reduced sugar, and increased greens, beans and grains.
    I’ve lived in both China and Japan, and had much better diets then than I do now here in the States. (probably because I worked in the restaurant business for so long!) I try to remind myself that I am what I eat, so here’s to a new year of being as healthy and natural as I can!

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  6. Post
    Author

    good for you, kellie! and bless you for commenting. glad to have something else to talk about besides bad parenting issues. :-)

    my daughter’s a vegetarian so i’m eating much less meat too. but i love butter. that’s one of my guilty pleasures. i also cook much more simply now. since my taste buds have readjusted to this plainer fare, things often seem more delicious with minimal seasonings. it’s all pretty interesting.

  7. Most of what he says makes absolute sense scientifically, although I’d say animal fat / protein is one of the biggest causes of disease. I followed Joel Fuhrmans’ “eat to live” for a while, and was the healthiest and thinnest I’ve been, but as you say it’s hard not to cheat.
    His premise is to make sure your diet is “nutrient dense”, so you eat amximum nutrients per calorie.

  8. Post
    Author
  9. Thanks for posting on food guidance. After my detox eliminating sugar in nov, I started craving it as the weather got colder and now I have to start cutting down again. Oreos are hard to resist! I do wonder why no tomato, green pepper, and eggplant…adriana

  10. Post
    Author

    well, i yo-yo too. but you know that there’s a difference in how you feel when you cut out the sugar, right? but i know exactly what you mean about cravings!

    as for nightshades, they are known troublemakers. in googling around, here are two sources for you. this one says that nightshades can “compromise” joint function as well as “impact” digestion and nerve-muscle function. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=62

    this next link is from a holistic website that says holistic practitioners find nightshades can cause migraines, headaches and aggravate arthritis. http://www.suite101.com/content/nightshades-a59252

    in googling around, i was surprised to read that paprika and cayenne pepper are also nightshades. i just think of them as condiments.

    in terms of jeffrey’s approach, most potatoes are just too carb-y. but the red-skinned ones are ok once in a while.

    no peppers & onions because the goal is to eat a nice, neutral, nutrition-packed diet. peppers and onions add a lot of flavor and spice to food — which can create what’s called “excess heat.” heat can manifest itself as inflammation, headaches, rashes, etc. on this front, i have stopped using onions and substitute the occasional scallion instead.

    instead of the big round eggplants, i eat the skinny asian ones, which jeffrey says are good for the digestion. hope this helps!

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  12. Post
    Author
  13. Really appreciate you taking on this blog,I got a great deal out of it and look forward to hearing more from you. Thank you

  14. Pingback: A cheap, simple holistic way to get rid of spring allergies – advice from Jeffrey Yuen

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