Eat Like a Dragon, Bear, Tiger or Crane by Letha Hadady

Harvard University and the National Institute on Aging have found that Asian women live the longest, healthiest lives in America. You can bet that part of their success is the tasty low fat, low protein Asian diet. A recent two-year clinical program suggested that an Asian-based diet also works for weight loss. The program included participants from workshops offered at New York Open Center, the Renfield Center for Nursing Education, a division of Beth Israel Medical Center, and the Academy of Healing Nutrition in New York. Eating habits and food addictions of 90-100 participants (mostly women) aged 25-72 were observed. Participants completed a questionnaire and were given diets according to one of four energy types. Their progress was then followed-up with emails. The types were Dragon, Bear, Tiger and Crane adapted from traditional Chinese medicine. Anyone could easily identify with the types, which predicted diet and behavior most likely to be affected by weight and common addictions. This is what the program discovered:

DRAGONS: Dragons craved salty or fried junk foods and low-value foods and beverages. They tended to have global edema (water retention) low energy and impaired immunity. This was a large category of women, many over 40, who experienced menopausal symptoms, hormonal issues, or were weakened after childbirth, illness, or were using medication. They were emotional eaters, who used food to ease depression and boredom. Some were overweight since childhood.

     BEARS: Bears craved sweet foods, low-value carbohydrates, white bread, pasta and bland foods. They overate when bored, during PMS or when upset, and they always had dessert. They complained of having extra fat in the middle or from the chest to thighs. Some had diabetes.

     TIGERS: Tigers were active, high-achievers who craved spices and loved dining in Asian restaurants. Despite having a strong digestion, overwork, poor habits, injuries, or a hectic work schedule often gave them food allergies, headaches, or joint discomforts. They were nervous snackers whose weight problems tended to be irregular weight gain, an over-dependence on stimulants, and cellulite from the waist down.

     CRANES: Cranes were food extremists, who might switch from an all protein to a total vegetarian diet depending on their philosophy, mood, or current diet fad. Unlike Bears who loved sweets, Dragons who indulged in salty junk foods, or Tigers who looked for something new, Cranes stuck to the same boring foods because of convenience. They were not good at nourishing themselves and often suffered from addictions, including smoking, using street drugs, or medicines.

     Each participant was assigned a Baseline Daily Diet (2 fruits, 6-9 vegetables, one source of protein, and one serving of high-fiber starch, plus teas and other slimming beverages.) Asian Superfoods such as toasted seaweeds, reishi mushroom extract, and vitalizing herbs served as energy supplements to boost vitality and enthusiasm. In addition, diet suggestions and recipes specific for each type were recommended. 

     Reducing calories and increasing exercise did not make a significant change for the majority of long-time overweight participants until they addressed their addictions and "emotional attachments" to fattening foods. To overcome emotional bingeing, targeted natural remedies and select Asian-super foods were assigned. Then improvements in weight loss and mood were observed.

     Among successful natural remedies for emotional balance were homeopathic pills taken once daily between meals: Pulsatilla 30C and nux vomica 30C. Homeopathic pulsatilla 30C was used for reducing excess water retention (PMS edema), depression, shortness of breath and chronic crying. This worked best with women who felt water-logged, had cold wet hands or feet and who craved iced drinks or creamy, sweet foods.

     Homeopathic nux vomica 30C worked for people who over-indulge in food, drinks or medicines during the holidays or during stress. The remedy is a liver-cleanser normally recommended for hangover and chronic sinus headaches.

     The following foods helped participants in this study which was entitled "Animal Energy Type Observation" to gain will power and lose weight: Weight Loss Teas were easy to incorporate. Cleansing, slimming teas included green tea, white tea, red bush tea and an instant beverage called Get Svelte.

     Asian Mushroom pills and extracts were used to enhance energy and immunity. Rich in polysaccharides, mushrooms including reishi and shiitake reduce risk for developing cancer, heart trouble and diabetes. Reishi+ liquid extract (20 drops 2X daily). A mild tea can be made by simmering one handful of dried shiitake for 45 minutes. This is less expensive than an extract.

     Seaweeds are sources of natural sea minerals, including iodine, necessary for healthy thyroid function and weight loss. Toast dried nori, dulse, or kelp leaves in a 200 degree oven until they are crisp. Sprinkle toasted seaweed on popped corn, salads, or vegetables dishes. Add seaweeds to soups to speed metabolism and help to detoxify the body.

     By the end of the observation period, most participants had lost weight and experienced improved energy and mood. They felt encouraged to improve their lifestyle. Ten people reported that menopausal symptoms had disappeared and at least five people said their other illnesses (diabetes, cancer) had improved. Also important, they enjoyed eating according to their Animal Energy Type.

Letha Hadady, D.Ac. is the author of "Asian Health Secrets," "Healthy Beauty," and "Feed Your Tiger: The Asian Secret for Permanent Weight Loss and Vibrant Health." Visit for more info.