The Asian Diet:

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

by Jason Bussell  MSOM, Licensed Acupuncturist


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The Asian Diet has been named a Top Diet by US News and World Report

Every year, US News and World Report ranks the best diets.  In 2013, The Asian Diet made it on the list.  They refer to it as the “Traditional Asian Diet” because there is not just one specific Asian Diet and because the diet is Asia is changing lately as the Western diet is creeping into their culture (with disastrous effects).  But my book, The Asian Diet: Simple secrets for eating right, losing weight, and being well, was a main source that US News and World Report consulted in evaluating the Traditional Asian Diet.  22 experts evaluated 29 different diets.  Read the whole article here at .  Here’s what they had to say about the Asian Diet.  

Overall, this diet plan was ranked at #11, but came in 4th among plant-based diets.  One reviewer wrote “the nutritional balance is better than most other plant-based or vegan diets”.  Some of the negative aspects the reviewers pointed out reflect their interpretation of the traditional Asian diet and do not reflect the Asian Diet as it is explained in my book.  I will discuss them later. 

Will it help you lose weight?  Probably. Research suggests people in Asian countries who follow this dietary pattern weigh less than their Western counterparts. That’s likely because it’s high in healthy foods that keep hunger at bay: whole grains, vegetables, and bean products, for example.

Is it good for cardiovascular health?  It’s likely. Asian diets are low in fat, especially the saturated variety, and high in fiber, due to an emphasis on fruits and veggies, whole grains, and rice. And they’re in line with the medical community’s widely accepted definition of a heart-healthy diet that keeps cholesterol and blood pressure in check and heart disease at bay.

Is it good for prevention or control of diabetes?  The diet appears to be a viable option for both.  Studies have shown that this type of diet can improve glucose tolerance as well. 

Is it safe?  The experts found no possible harmful effects of following this diet plan. 

Is it nutritious?   Absolutely.  Following the Asian Diet, you should have no trouble staying within the recommended amounts for:  Fat,  protein, carbohydrates, salt, fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D.  No supplementation is necessary when following the Asian Diet.

Is it easy to follow?  The authors said that if you don’t like rice, noodles, legumes, and vegetables, then it may be hard.  But, it is hard to be healthy if you are avoiding vegetables.  We don’t just feed our tongues, so one of the things we need to do in order to improve our health is to increase the variety of foods that we eat.  If you don’t like vegetables, suck it up and eat some anyway. 

Will I be hungry?  No.  With so many fiber packed foods, and with no calorie cap, you shouldn’t go hungry.



New review sent in by the editors of a website
The Asian Diet is a straight-to-the-point and reliable book about dieting and weight loss. The problem of obesity in America is worsening to a point where a quarter of the adult population is medically obese. The book tells us that there is a historically proven eating habit that can remedy the problem. If we were to point out a flaw in the book, it would be the title.  There is a preponderance to fall back to Chinese Cuisine. Not that we're complaining. The Chinese culture has the oldest continuous record of food recipes and faithfully handed down the generations. The book also mentions Traditional Chinese Medicine, which to the Western culture boils down to tea drinking and acupuncture. There's a lot more. On our side of the spectrum, cosmetic surgery presents a quick and largely cosmetic solution to obesity. Bariatric and lapband surgeries are dangerous and presents a lifestyle that is extremely difficult to maintain. Get the copy of the book now before it's too late! -


Excerpts from an email received 12/2/2010

"I have just completed* The Asian Diet and wanted to tell  you that, in my opinion, this is one of the most important books I have ever read in my 76 years,  I use the word "completed" because I believe it was just that - a course of study and understanding of the principles you present....As a survivor of five (5) types of cancer (it runs in my family on both sides) and a long-time diabetic with A1C readings usually around 5.4, I have always tried to surround myself with positive energy and maintain good eating habits...As an avid fan of Asian cooking, I am absolutely delighted to know that my penchant for Japanese noodles and white rice can once again be on my grocery list. ... I am so glad you included the section on green tea in your book, because I started drinking at least 6 to 8, 8-oz. glasses each day since in my early 30's, when I had my first encounter with cancer.  I love the ritual of loose leaf tea.  Since reading (and rereading) your book, I have lost a total of seven pounds...I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for such a marvelous book.  I am a native of Chicago and only wish I had had knowledge of you before I moved.  
Most Sincerely, Susan V" (full name withheld)



Laura Cone, a writer for Yahoo! Associated Content gives The Asian Diet 4.9 out of 5 stars.  Read the review here

Why We Must Override Our Natural Instincts
By Andrew Rader, LAc, MS

Published in Acupuncture Today January 2010 issue and viewable here

...The choices can be broken down into what to eat and how much. Again, because we in the Western industrialized world can have these choices, we can consider them a blessing or a curse. To this end, I will refer to a new book, written by Jason Bussell, an acupuncturist from Chicago. The Asian Diet is a book many of us wished we had written. Bussell wrote it after realizing that he was repeating his advice over and over to his patients regarding diet and lifestyle. Now he hands them his book and has them read it. He has assembled the kernels of what he considers the most important principles regarding diet and lifestyle. He readily admits that these are his opinions, culled from his own understanding of Chinese medicine and more recent sources such as Michael Pollan, T. Colin Campbell and Paul Pitchford, to name a few.

As a society we have become so focused on the constituents of food that we have lost the older wisdom of simply seeing food as whole foods. Jason Bussell notes that since this focus on nutrients began, we have become more obese and less healthy. Our ancestors would never have turned down yams or an egg because they were watching their intake of carbohydrates or were worried about their cholesterol. They would find a way to balance or offset meat with berries or herbs. They would eat colder foods in the summer and warmer foods in the winter. They didn't need studies to figure this out.

Many cultures use chicken soup as a basis for bringing sick people back to health. We know these things instinctually. So how did we suddenly give up our collective wisdom around diet and lifestyle, and turn it over to the folks in white lab coats? The people who peddle industrialized food know that our reptilian brains crave salt, fat and sugar.

Engineering Our Food

Food engineers can take anything, put salt, fat or sugar in it, and we will want it. They can create synthetic compounds that fool us into thinking we are eating sugars (think saccharin). They can create salt substitutes (MSG). If the compounds are not wholly synthetic, they can be derived from natural sources, then isolated and concentrated to levels never seen before on the planet (high-fructose corn syrup). They can take a naturally occurring fat and put it under tremendous heat and pressure to create wholly new compounds (trans fats). All of this has been in the last 75 years. As consumers, we do not have the savvy, nor the government protections, to shield us from this very focused onslaught. We are on our own to fend for ourselves. Essentially we must assume that anything new is unhealthy until proven innocent. This is called the cautionary principle.

Fortunately we have other sources to guide us, such as the collective wisdom of our ancestors, which has been handed down generation after generation. In the West we do not have much in terms of a written lineage regarding health and lifestyle. However, Chinese medicine, which has at least 2,000 years of written history, has been preserved and utilized through today. Bussell has quotes from these texts in his book, which helps to give us some perspective when juxtaposed against some front-page news story that says that organic food is no different from nonorganic. When it borders on the absurd, we just have to find a sense of humor and respond. If someone tells me organic has no more nutritive value than nonorganic, I ask them, which they would rather eat: an unadulterated orange or one has been dipped in kerosene...

Published in Positive Health and viewable here

The Asian Diet: Simple Secrets for Eating Right, Losing Weight, and Being Well

by Jason Bussell MSOM LAc
listed in chinese / oriental medicine

There are two aspects to Chinese Nutrition – the theories about healthy eating which can benefit anybody, and the specifics of food as medicine, used to treat illness. This slim, approachable book is all about the first – it aims to explain the main concepts of healthy eating as understood by Chinese medicine.

The book is divided into small chapters, some only a page or two long, each on a different topic. So there are chapters on 'soups', 'sugar substitutes', 'feeding our children', 'supplements', 'tips for losing weight' and so on. This makes information easy to find, but consequently there is a bit of a lack of flow to the book as a whole.

Some of Bussell's suggestions are at odds with conventional Western nutritional ideas, but are perfectly consistent with Chinese thought. For instance, he advises restricting cold and raw food, and favouring cooked and warm. This is because cold and raw food takes more processing by the body, and uses more Qi to digest. The same goes for rice, where Bussell takes the unusual step of advising white rice over wholegrain. Again, this is because white rice is much easier to digest and so ultimately provides the body with more Qi. This last point may seem unusual to those familiar with western nutritional advice, but reflects Bussell's Chinese training. In China, wholegrain rice is only fed to animals!

And these are not hard and fast rules – following the overall theme of 'balance and moderation' which Bussell advises for all areas of diet, we are recommended to eat mostly cooked warm food, and more white rice than wholegrain, but to ensure that we eat a little of everything, including raw food and wholegrain rice, from time to time. He says 'every food has something that nothing else can give us' and 'too much or too little of any one thing is not a good thing' and so he recommends a far wider variety of foods than most of us are used to.

Again, following the common Chinese view, he goes to lengths to promote green tea drinking, proclaiming it 'the greatest beverage in the world' and claiming that 'quitting smoking and drinking green tea are on the same order of magnitude  in terms of their respective health benefits.' The properties of green tea which elevate it to this status, according to Bussell, are that it is fat-burning, improves bone density and stimulates both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

For each of these suggestions, and the others in the book, plenty of explanation is given as to why, and how it fits in with Chinese thought. He is clearly an experienced practitioner and is used to fielding questions from people who are new to this way of thinking; in this book he answers all the obvious concerns about what at first can appear unusual advice.

The chapters on 'lifestyle' and 'attitudes' may not seem to fit in a book on diet, but Chinese medicine is a holistic system, in which the mental and emotional realms influence and interact with the physical. Bussell uses these chapters to talk a little about how one's attitudes and lifestyle can influence health, using concepts from Buddhist thought.

The final chapter gives a breakdown of the actions and effects of 168 common foods, arranged in alphabetical order. It suffers from the inevitable Chinese bias – including Chinese foods such as musk melon and lotus root, but has no entry for common Western foods like parsnip, broad bean or tuna. Nevertheless, it gives a glimpse into the way that food is seen and understood using the Chinese system – this is the information that practitioners of Chinese Nutrition use to make dietary recommendations. For instance, Lamb is listed as sweet and warm and effects the Spleen and Kidney channels. It boosts the Qi and warms the centre and can be used to treat lower back pain, postpartum chills and abdominal pain.

The main thrust of the information in the book is all about balance, moderation and variety. Bussell uses plenty of analogies and illustrations to explain the dozen or so main points to a healthy diet – cooked food is better than raw, vegetables are better than fruit, simple is better than processed, dairy  isn't so good, and so on.

The tone throughout the book is chatty, informal and colloquial. Absolutely no prior knowledge is assumed. While this certainly stops it from becoming too dry or technical, I found it to be too much, and even slightly patronizing in places.

This is not the most detailed book on Chinese nutrition and diet. Yet it is slim, accessible and reasonably priced. It is clearly not a book aimed at the Chinese health professional, but rather a lay guide. It might suit a complete newcomer to the subject, or someone who wants to know how to improve their diet without having to learn too much theory or work through a larger book.

Further Information
This title is available online from Findhorn Press, Amazon and all good bookstores.  


Published in the Austin All Natural, and viewable at

The Asian Diet: 

Simple Secrets for Eating Right, Losing Weight, and Being Well

 by Jason Bussell, MSOM, L.Ac.

 Book review by Michael Abedin

 A long time ago, humans found themselves here on the planet.  A couple of hours later, they found themselves here and hungry, so they started eating things…Jason Bussell, The Asian Diet

Imagine a system of healthcare in which you paid your doctor a monthly fee to keep you healthy, one in which you’d stop paying him if you got sick, and might even get a refund.  The Chinese came up with that idea a few millennia ago, and it served them pretty well until the Communists came along.  By the time of the Cultural Revolution, though, Chinese medicine had about a four thousand year foothold, and most of its principles survived – including the notion that the first thing a physician should do before reaching for herbs or acupuncture needles is to restore balance, especially in lifestyle and diet. 

In fact, lack of balance in lifestyle, diet, and attitude is one of the biggest pathologies in Western culture from the point of view of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  (Bussell calls it Oriental Medicine, which has a cooler abbreviation – OM.)   

Are you nuts?

Bussell had a degree in psychology and worked in psychiatric wards before he decided to become a full-fledged doctor, and it paid off – based on everything he heard, it seemed like he’d have to be crazy to be a doctor in the American healthcare system.  That’s when he discovered OM, and he’s now an acupuncturist and herbalist, a self-proclaimed white guy practicing Oriental Medicine.

The Asian Diet is what its subtitle says – simple secrets about health based largely on diet, not a collection of magic bullet cures. Some of the secrets won’t be anything startlingly new to anyone who’s spent any time learning to eat a healthy diet: 

  • Balance and moderation are good in all things, including diet. 
  • Dairy isn’t such a good thing, although not just for the reasons you’d think – it can actually reduce calcium levels in your bones.  (Eggs, by the way, aren’t dairy products.)
  • Simple foods are better than processed.
  • Exercise every day (not too much) and don’t get stressed.
  • Vegetables are good.

 Other secrets, however, may border on heresy for anyone who’s made the search for a pure and perfect diet into a substitute for the religious upbringing that they thought they’d cast aside years ago:

  • White rice is better than brown, and shouldn’t be lumped with white flour and white sugar as part of the Evil Triumvirate of White Foods.  (The brown rice craze started with the original Japanese macrobiotic movement, which used rice with most of the hull removed.)
  • Vegetables are better than fruit, and fresh fruit is better than juice.  Juice is actually kind of thick and sticky in the body, just like it is outside of the body.
  • Cooked foods are better than raw – even vegetables.  Digestion is more important than nutritional value, and cooking actually starts the digestive process.  Fermentation (pickling) is a form of cooking, prominent in Asia.
  • Fill your tummy about half full of solids and a quarter full of liquids (water or green tea) with each meal. 
  • The biggie?  Eat animals – ones that had a pretty good life before they became food, like everything eventually does.  Don’t just eat muscle tissue, though, eat all the parts, and eat small amounts of mammals, not just fish and chicken.  Think of it as sort of homeopathic, if you need to – and remember that moderation and balance are the keys.

 Like any book about food, The Asian Diet has a section at the end with recipes and the benefits of different foods, and this is where Bussell will most likely open up a whole new market for the idea of a healthy diet from the mysterious East.

Alcohol, it seems, is good for treating hemorrhoids.

 The Asian Diet is published by Findhorn Press, a prestigious publishing house that had its origins in a spiritual community in Scotland in the early 1960’s, and is available at bookstores,, and

Michael Abedin is publisher and editor of Austin All Natural, a print and online publication in Austin, TX.  (512) 803-0721,

Published in Pilgrims Mind Body and Spirit Online Magazine.

Support a Local Author and Support your Health
by Christy Bonstell, Chicago beauty and health examiner for   Viewable here.

Jason Bussell is the president of the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and one heck of a writer to boot. Bussell, who was interviewed by about a year ago, recently released a book called "The Asian Diet." The book is not about dieting, it's about respecting food and the way your body uses that food. Supplements, lifestyle and other subjects that affect your health, happiness and weight are also addressed. The book is easy to read, chock full of helpful information and is actually fun to sift through. If you've been looking for a way to improve your eating habits that may actually last a lifetime, this book is for you.


5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Refreshing Book!, June 25, 2009

By  Sun Wind Pinon "earthmom" (USA) -

I bought this book for someone else but one peek inside and I was hooked. Read it cover to cover and am keeping it to refer to. (yes, I had to buy another for my friend!) What a wonderful book.

The information is clear, common sense, gently put across, and not complicated. It rang very clear and positive for me and has helped me to make some important changes in a diet that I thought was pretty good but now see very logical flaws.

Thank you Jason Bussell! This one is a treasure.

"Enjoyable Read!"  A review by internet journalist Graeme Thompson

A weight loss book that doesn't offer to change your life in a month? Seriously? In America?

What I liked most about this book is that it takes the long view. The point is to bring your life into balance by changing your lifestyle generally, including diet and attitude. It doesn't offer quick fixes, and Mr. Bussell repeatedly reminds the reader there isn't really any such thing.

Indeed, it's quite possible to read this book as cultural criticism. Why does dairy have so much power in the US? Why do we eat so much meat? Why are we the single culture that loves to ice our drinks?

Money drives much of our culture. There is money to be made in creating problems. Then money is made with promises to fix the problems. Many of the book's better points are made when the author looks at American culture through the lens of Chinese thinking. You don't have to be interested in weight loss to find the conclusions compelling.

Essentially, America is a young nation, and our culture is based on young ideas. We're excited by excess, and we're continually reeling from one new trend to the next, while older countries look on: sometimes in amusement, sometimes in horror.

What does this have to do with why you're fat? The author asks that you give the question some honest thought. Think about the typical commercial for an antacid that promises you can continue to eat fried food because their product blocks the pain signals your body is sending you. Isn't that typically American to be told, "You shouldn't adapt your diet! Why take care of yourself when you can have more french fries!?"

Does that really make sense to you? It may *appeal* to you, but is it advice you'd give someone you care about?

The book is written in a conversational style that's pleasant. There are instructions, of course, but the author doesn't nag. Instead, we're reminded to take the long view of everything, including diet. Dump the microwave and the fast food, and take control of your life by relaxing, getting enough sleep, and eating real food.

Bussell encourages making small changes for the better now, because even if you backslide, over time your progress will snowball into a better quality of life. It's nice to hear that relaxed, longer time-horizon message. It's a calming counterpoint to a culture that pushes the new and the now. Perfection, if it comes, is never quick. Relax, get in balance, and develop healthier habits. Weight loss will follow in time. If this sounds interesting to you, then buy this book.


Sensible, plainspoken advice - A review by Lucas Davenport, New Orleans La. 

In an age where we are inundated by quick fixes and short term solutions, Mr. Bussell gives us the long view for health and good dietary habits. This book shouldn't be mistaken for a cookbook, its more like a bible of good habits. Mr. Bussell sets a simple outline of habits (both good and bad) and then explains in a conversational tone which habits those seeking true health should employ. Though it contains some advice that americans may find anathema (NO DAIRY?!), their rationales are clearly explained and explored. This is about more than good food for your body, its about good food for your mind.

From Positive Health Online 
In this era of fad diets, detox programmes, and 'superfoods', this examination of the relationship between diet and lifestyle looks to the Far East and claims that the simple principles to live by are balance and moderation. The diet outlined in this book teaches the daily effects that particular food choices will have-on bodyweight, energy, mood, and the quality and duration of life. All major food groups are covered, with additional sections on dietary supplements, lifestyle, and attitude.

What Makes this Book Special?

The information within The Asian Diet is a compilation of the information Bussell tries to impart to all his patients. It is filled with advice on how to change your diet, lifestyle and attitudes to improve your health, vitality and longevity.

What are the benefits of buying this book?

  • Learn how your food choices affect the functioning of your body and mind
  • Learn how to make proper food choices
  • Learn how to adjust your lifestyle and attitudes to promote health and well-being

About the Author

Jason Bussell has a Master of Science Degree in Oriental Medicine; he is nationally board certified in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the President of the Illinois Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is on the Advisory board for curriculum development of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Bussell has published articles in professional journals.

From That', written by Mary Kearl

Jason Bussell, author of "The Asian Diet"
The Asian Diet Book Cover
Anyone can lose weight and live longer through adhering to the ancient Asian principles of moderation and balance, says Jason Bussell, author of "The Asian Diet." Bussel advocates eating plenty of simple grains and vegetables, some and meat, no dairy and no artificial or heavily-processed foods along with green tea and soup with most meals.

That's Fit: Can you describe how one can transition from an "American" diet to an "Asian" diet?

Bussell: The number one question people have about following these principles is "what about breakfast?" Most of the foods that comprise the Western breakfast menu are very unhealthy. Pancakes and waffles are basically desserts. Cold cereals are very processed, even the "whole grain" cereals are still very removed from their natural form. Humans are the only animals that have different foods at different times of the day. I cannot imagine a lion saying, "I only have Gazelle after 12 p.m." What is good for us at any time is good for us at all times. In Asia, breakfast looks a lot like lunch and dinner. They'll have rice, vegetables, fish, etc. Eat when you are hungry; and eat until your stomach is halfway full with food, one-quarter filled with liquid (soups and tea) and leave one quarter empty for processing. You should never go hungry, just keep yourself fueled with good food. Some people need two meals a day, some people need five.

Unfortunately, many classic American dishes are too heavy on the meat. Chicken and vegetables would fit into this style provided there are a lot of different vegetables and not too much chicken. Rice and beans are good, but you should have some vegetables on the side. Soups are good as long as they don't have too much salt and are not cream-based. A hamburger is not a bad combination -- it just has the wrong proportions. If we put a lot more vegetable toppings, trimmed the meat to two to three ounces, and had it on thin and sprouted-grain bun, then that would adhere to the principles. Corn on the cob is great. Fruit salad is good as long as it is not served too cold. Veggie kebabs are great. Meat and veggie kebabs would also be fine as long as there was not too much meat. Serve them with rice and green tea or water and we've got ourselves an Asian Diet meal.

That's Fit: In your book you say that brown rice isn't as healthful as everyone says. Can you explain?

Bussell: Brown rice is white rice with a thick hull around it. It's kind of like eating a walnut and not taking the shell off. Of course, nature had to put some nutrients into that shell, but they are not for us. They have a very poor bioavailability. Our bodies will have to spend more time and energy trying to break through the shell, most of it will eventually pass through us at a net loss of energy and a slowing of our metabolism. Brown rice is more difficult to digest and what we want is efficient digestion.

White rice is the most hypo-allergenic, easily-assimilated and energetically neutral of the grains. All foods and herbs have properties: warming or cooling, moistening or drying, activating or sedating, etc. White rice is neutral, so it will not disrupt our energetic equilibrium. But balance and moderation are the overriding principles, so you should not have white rice all the time. Have all the grains sometimes, even brown rice, but you can have white rice more than any other.

The Chinese eat just about everything. When I was studying there, I was offered foods that we would never eat here in the West. The fact that they go to the trouble to polish off the germ layer from brown rice indicates there must be a good reason. The reason is that it makes the rice easier to digest.

That's Fit: Where did you get the idea for the "Asian Diet"?

Bussell: I am an acupuncturist and herbalist. In Oriental medicine, it is written that "the superior physician does not treat sick patients. The superior physician prevents his patients from getting sick." Acupuncture and herbs can help bring people back into balance, but we have to look at what got them out of balance in the first place.

The real treasure of the Chinese culture is that theirs is a 4,000 year experiment in what works and what doesn't. Their written language allowed them to record and disseminate their findings, and allowed future generations to build upon the work that had already been done. They have figured out a lot about how to live in balance.

With all of my patients, I give them a talk about living in balance according to the wisdom acquired by the cultures of Asia over the past several millennia. I go over how we should adjust our diet, lifestyle and attitudes to promote wellness and prevent disease. Often after the talk, patients will ask where they can get this advice in a written form. I searched for years but could not find a good book to recommend, so I wrote "The Asian Diet."

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