Sherene Chou

Sherene Chou

Sherene Chou, MS, RD

1. Tell us about your and your family's journey moving to the USA

My parents immigrated from Taipei to Los Angeles in the early 80s to provide our family with more access to opportunities. My sisters and I were all born and raised here growing up with both Chinese and American identities. We were raised in a fairly traditional Chinese household where we were only allowed to speak Chinese. Outside of the home, like most children of immigrants, we were liaisons for our parents and the outside world.

2. What are some of your health related values, beliefs and practices?

My parents and grandmother all practice TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine, so I grew up in a household with a holistic view on health, which I continue to embody today. I strongly believe that a healthy being encompasses the mind, body and spirit, which celebrates both traditional eastern methods of healing (used for centuries) as well as western evidence-based approaches.

3. What kind of foods do you like to eat on a daily basis? And what do you prefer on the day you do not feel very well?

On a daily basis, my food preferences can have a huge range, which is a mix of soups, salads, sandwiches and pastas to a range of Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Thai foods. It’s usually a fusion of plant-based dishes around the world. When I’m not feeling well, I always crave traditional Chinese/Taiwanese food for comfort. It’s usually porridge, a brothy noodle soup or dumplings. 

4. Do you avoid eating any foods for your cultural or religious reasons? Which ones?

My family practices Taoism, so I was born and raised vegetarian. Being vegetarian is not a requirement in Taoism, but a choice my parents made for both religious and health reasons. For many who practice Taoism or Buddhism and choose to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet, onion and garlic (along with other alliums) are avoided. At home with my parents, we cooked without onion and garlic. This style of cooking is also found in most traditional chinese vegetarian restaurants. In my household, I follow a plant-based, vegan diet and when I’m with my parents, I will honor their practices by cooking a vegetarian diet that follows Taoist traditions. 

5. We all have favorite remedies that we use when we are sick, which home remedies do you use?

I use a lot of traditional broths, stews and porridges both savory and sweet that incorporate traditional Chinese ingredients like jujube, monk fruit, goji berry, red bean, taro root, yam, barley and other herbs. Thankfully, I live in a Chinese neighborhood, so these ingredients are incredibly accessible at the local supermarkets and herb shops. 

6. What steps do you take counseling a patient from a different culture and racial group?

I don’t work with patients 1:1 but provide education to healthcare professionals. One of the key points I emphasize is to honor, respect and educate yourself on the culture of patients and clients. This can be practiced through food recommendations, recipe writing, advocacy, and education by simply acknowledging the history of traditional foods and how they are a healthful part of diets. This equips practitioners with more knowledge and empowers patients and clients to celebrate their cultures.