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

betty ming liu Food, Health 46 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 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?)

Who is Jeffrey C. Yuen?

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 schedule consultations.

Since he’s not interested in publicity or taking on patients, I felt terrible. But his wisdom is so precious that I’m going to ask a favor of you. In this post, Jeffrey shares his secret to healthy eating. As a thank-you to him, let’s respect his privacy by NOT contacting him.  :)

Let’s leave him alone to pursue his passion: traveling the globe to teach a deeply personal, close-to-nature approach to acupuncture and herbs.

Learning with Jeffrey C. Yuen

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.

But Chinese medicine is still at the core of his wisdom, with good reason. Acupuncture offers an amazing way of looking at the human body. In this ancient medical system, each of our organs has energy channels running through the body. A skilled acupuncturist knows how to insert hair-thin needles into key points along these channels to release toxins and stimulate wellness.

Acupunture channels

Herbalists know about these energy channels too and reflect on them as they mix herbal formulas based on dried roots, barks, berries and flowers.

Like all medical fields, Chinese medicine consists of many schools, approaches and factions. Jeffrey is into classical principles compiled through the centuries by earlier Daoist priests (pronounced DOW-ist and sometimes spelled “Taoist”).

Now that you have a little background on Jeffrey and how he thinks, let’s move on to his food philosophy.

We are what we eat

When I met Jeffrey 20 years ago, I was a junk food queen. Since he believes we are what we eat, I could see that my poor eating habits were making me sick.

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. Chinese cooking features its share of deliciously fried, fatty and flour-based dishes that are just plain toxic.

Thanks to Jeffrey, I’m developing a regimen that supports digestion — which is why my allergies — and skin problems associated with allergies have cleared up. The results have so impressed my friends that some of them are trying his dietary guidelines, too.

If you think I look good at age 54, it’s because I’ve been sticking to Jeffrey’s food list. Even when I cheat (like, all the time), the general principles give me a structure to live by.

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 food philosophy is simple: Nourish the body’s blood by eating close to nature.

Beware the four whites

Over the years, I’ve given up:

  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • White flour
  • Cow milk and related cow milk products like cheese and butter

The logic here is that since sugar and white flour are processed foods, they offer zero nutrition. As for cow milk, think about it: Humans are the only mammals who  still consume milk long past infancy.

Comfort foods like ice cream and cheese are too rich for adults, which might have more than a little something to do with our increasing rates of obesity and diabetes.

But Jeffrey’s food list gives us a chance to rethink how we live.

Jeffrey’s food list


  • 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 and 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 and 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

Comments 46

  1. Post

    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

    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

    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

    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.

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  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

    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.

    this next link is from a holistic website that says holistic practitioners find nightshades can cause migraines, headaches and aggravate arthritis.

    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
  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

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