Meet the Founders of Chiyo, a Pregnancy and Postpartum Meal Service Weaving Traditional Chinese Medicine Into the Fold of Nutrition

Photo: Chiyo
Pregnancy and the postpartum period takes a physical, emotional, and mental toll on a person. During this journey, it's crucial to prioritize rest and recovery. However, it's not only about taking it easy and avoiding strenuous activities; the nourishment we provide our bodies plays a vital role as well.

Unfortunately, adjusting to life as a parent can be overwhelming, leaving little to no time to cook healthy meals. Thankfully, there's a new company dedicated to supporting moms and moms-to-be on their nutrition goals through the lens of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): Chiyo.

About Chiyo

Founded by Irene Liu and Jennifer Jolorte, the idea behind Chiyo was born in Liu's mom's kitchen when Liu witnessed her mother sending her aunt TCM postpartum meals in the summer of 2020. "And then I went down a rabbit hole and looked at what all these other countries were doing, and I was like "oh, all these other Asian cultures have converged on a very similar way of care that's rooted in food—why is there nothing like this in the US, at least at a large scale and accessible?" says Liu. Soon after, she connected with Jolorte, who has a background in the birthing space, and Chiyo was born.

Experts In This Article

The company offers five-day meal programs—which include nutritious snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for people in the fertility, prenatal (months one through three of pregnancy), and postpartum periods. Chiyo also offers a full, six-week program to assist and support mothers in the first 40 days after giving birth. These programs are meant for one person, but Jolorte says there's an add-on option for families at a discounted rate of $45. (Prices vary depending on plan, but start at $144 per week.)

While meals vary on a week-to-week basis, one day worth of meals can look like this, per Chiyo:

  • Morning: Herbal morning tonic
  • Breakfast: Ube buckwheat waffles and berry compote
  • Lunch: Miso mushroom herbed quinoa risotto
  • Post-lunch: Herbal broth
  • Dinner: Rainbow noodles with lemon harissa dressing and salmon
  • Snack: Peanut butter squares

Photo: Chiyo

Chiyo is rooted in TCM practices

In TCM, an emphasis is placed on maintaining balance within five key organs: liver, heart, pancreas, lungs, and kidneys, which are associated with the elements wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Chiyo does this by incorporating foods and cooking practices that commonly appear in the TCM diet, such as a variety of whole grains, like millet, brown rice, purple rice, buckwheat, protein, fruits, and cooked vegetables.

For example, Chiyo's shiitake porridge incorporates cooked whole grains, like buckwheat. "So when whole grains are cooked, it's easier to digest, but also be able to provide you with the energy, the good carbohydrates, and the nutrients you need," says Zoey Xinyi Gong, RD, a registered dietitian and TCM food therapist. "These things are ideal for postpartum."

Other ingredients in Chiyo's plans include herbal broths. "It's called sheng hua tang, and that's specific for the first week of postpartum when you're looking to dispel all of the old uterine lining, all the old blood," says Jolorte. "These are very traditional herbs used in TCM, and we've basically been able to help formulate them using our bone broth collagen, the herbs, and make them into very easy-to-use broth cubes." Customers can use these cubes by adding them to eight ounces of hot water, making them more accessible for the modern day person, Jolorte adds.

chiyo broth cubes
Photo: Chiyo

While Western nutrition encourages "eating the rainbow"—Gong says that may be a side of broccoli, carrots, or peas on an American plate—TCM-rooted diets take another level of complexity. In contrast, a Chinese meal will have at least five or six different kinds of vegetables on the table, which are usually rife with fiber and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Additionally, most, if not all veggies, are cooked, as "raw foods are a little bit harder to digest in the perspective of TCM," says Gong.

Where does Chiyo deliver

For people based in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, local delivery is available on Sunday evenings (or Mondays but with an extra fee). Anyone located outside of the tri-state area can choose nationwide shipping (note: only postpartum meals are available for this option); meals chosen under this option will be packaged on ice and shipped via overnight shipping.

No matter if you're looking to getting pregnant or have just given birth, Chiyo is here to support moms and moms-to-be throughout their journey, offering healthy, nutrient-dense meals rooted in TCM traditions. You can discover your personal plan here or choose standard plans here.

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