The Asian Diet:

Simple secrets for eating right, losing weight, and being well

by Jason Bussell MSOM, Licensed Acupuncturist


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For the best diet advice, look to the East. Compare the shapes of the average American to the average Asian and you will be quickly reminded that America, with all of its diet fads and super foods, is the most obese nation in the world. Chinese culture, on the other hand, has adhered for over 4,000 years to a diet plan of balance and moderation and simple principles that we can all practice to live healthier.

If we eat like the Asians, we will look like the Asians (thin). When they start eating like us, they start looking like us (not thin). The overriding principles are Balance and Moderation. You don’t need to eat Chinese food or any Asian cuisine every day. The various countries cuisines are very different; but they all adhere to the same principles; a diet of simple whole grains, slightly cooked vegetables, and a little bit of everything else.  Too much or too little of any one thing is not good.

All foods have upsides and downsides. A good diet should be like a good stock portfolio, diversified. If you have the same thing every day, you are overloaded in one sector. This makes you more prone to the dangers of that sector, and at the same time you are missing out on all the other good things happening in the market. So like with a good portfolio, you should hedge your bets. Have smaller amounts of more foods, then no single one can have too great an influence.

White rice is better than brown. Brown rice is white rice with a thick hull around it. It is kind of like eating a walnut and not taking the shell off. There are nutrients in the hull, but they have a very poor bioavailability. Our bodies spend a lot of time and effort trying to break down the shell, which will use up energy and slow our metabolism. But since moderation and balance are the principles, don’t have white rice all the time. Rotate between all the grains (including brown rice). The more processed a food is, the harder it is for us to un-process; so simple grains should be taken more than breads and pastas.

Cooked vegetables are better than raw. It is true that cooking slightly will destroy a little of the nutrients (about 10 percent), but that remaining 90 percent is then unlocked and available. Whatever you put in your stomach that is cold and raw, you have to heat and cook. This takes your time, your energy, and slows your metabolism. We get all our energy from our digestion. We want to get the energy and life out of the food and excrete that which we don’t need. Cooking outside the body lightens the load and then our digestive tract can simply act as a filter: send the good stuff to the tissues, the bad to the tissue paper. We should eat a wide variety of vegetables, mostly locally grown and organic.

Calories don’t matter. The average person in China consumes between 25–40 percent more calories than the average American. Even the sedentary office workers have more calories and less obesity. This is because of the kinds of calories they consume and how they are prepared. Calories ingested from natural sources will give you a more steady release of energy, satisfy your hunger, and facilitate appropriate elimination of waste. Eating cookies, snack foods, artificial sweeteners, sodas, etc, will spike our blood sugars, make us hungrier, and slow our digestion. You should never be hungry. Just keep yourself full of good, natural food.

You should eat a little red meat. Most Americans have too much red meat and that is clearly associated with myriad health problems. Vegetarians almost have it right, they just go a little to far. Giving up meat usually will show a short-term improvement, but almost always will lead to a long-term deficiency. The Chinese recommend that we get two ounces, twice a week of specifically mammal meat. A little bit of fish and fowl are good as well, but we do need a little mammal in the rotation. White meat is not better than dark, chicken is not better than beef, egg whites are not better than yolks. We should have a little of everything. One famous Chinese medical doctor wrote the “Vegetarianism is best suited to monks, living in the shelter of a temple, spending their days in seated meditation”. Those of us with a more active lifestyle need a little more of an active food source.

Regarding the ethics of meat eating, I believe that God loves carrots too. Everything has a life force and wants to grow and reproduce. So it is not possible to “do no harm” and survive. Everything has to eat something. We should always be grateful and mindful for the lives that are given so ours may continue.

Stay away from Dairy. Dairy is designed by nature for infants to turn into substance in the body. Humans are the only animals that have dairy after infancy. Dairy does have calcium, but it is overwhelmed by the protein Casein, which seems to rob the bones of calcium. Green leafy vegetables are a much better source of calcium for our bodies, with less ill effects.

Chinese medicine teaches that in adults, dairy turns into a substance called Phlegm. Phlegm can manifest in many different ways: fat, mucus, sinus infections, mental fog, respiratory problems, skin conditions, and even fibroids and tumors. A little dairy won’t kill you, but a lot of it is not good. Your primary beverage should be water (room or body temperature), number-two should be green tea. Everything else, including coffee, should be occasional.

Try and put these principles to use in your and your family’s diet and you will see the benefits. Trust what has worked for millennia. Keep it simple, balanced, and moderate.


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All of these principles are explained in detail in the book

For diet

  • Balance and Moderation are the keys

  • Eat whole grains (the less processed the better)

  • Caloric science in inherently flawed- Calories don't matter

  • Eat organic

  • Eat local

  • Cooked vegetables are better than raw

  • Eat fruit in moderation

  • Your diet should be like your portfolio- diversified

  • Eat a wide variety of food.  Too much or too little of any one thing is not good

  • Juices and sauces are not moderate

  • You should eat a little red meat

  • White meat is not better than dark; egg yolks are not worse than egg whites

  • Dairy is for infants and is not good for adults, despite what the commercials and billboards tell you

  • Sugar substitutes are not good

  • Don't go hungry

  • Don't microwave

  • You don't need to take supplements

  • Chew your food well

  • Fill your stomach half way with food, one-quarter with liquid, and leave one quarter empty for processing



  • Should be balanced and moderate

  • Don't always be "doing", spend some time just "being"

  • Get some exercise every day.  Tai Chi is the best exercise

  • Get enough sleep; and sleep at the right time (night)

  • Don't overdo any one activity

  • Take time every day to recharge



  • Keep a wide perspective - Don't sweat the small stuff

  • Forgive yourself and others

  • Keep an open mind

  • We are not here to just accomplish; we are here to learn and to teach

  • Your emotions should be like the wind

  • Have compassion for all creatures great and small

  • Don't be too quick to judge things

  • Look for, and enjoy, the humor in life


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