Dietary intake and nutritional factors have been shown to be associated with many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. There are many approaches to studying dietary intake in relationship to disease; each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. Examples of different methods of studying dietary patterns will be reviewed. In most cultures, consumed and preferred foods are based on cultural and societal influence. Thus, it is important to consider dietary patterns within the context of culture in addition to the standard nutrients or food groupings approach. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers another dimension to food analysis. Our approach classifies dietary intake based on Traditional Chinese Medicine principles of yin and yang, hot and cold, and acidic and alkaline forming food concepts in a case-control study of dietary factors and breast cancer. Our results complement previously reported findings of an increased risk of breast cancer associated with dietary fats in Taiwanese women. Our discussion will focus on the implication of using this dietary pattern research and the challenge of combining this research with culturally sensitive messages to improve health. Our ultimate goal is to design an intervention strategy for disease prevention and health promotion that is culturally appropriate for specific populations.