Being healthy and well, as most experts would say, is all about balance. But what exactly does this mean? 

We recently tackled this topic in a two-part workshop called the “Healthy Balance: Yin and Yang of Diet and Digestion.” Led by Dr. Francisco “Kit” Navarro, a lecturer of Ateneo de Manila University’s Chinese Studies program, we looked at how the ancient tradition of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) defines a healthy balance in food and our eating habits. 

Here are some ways you can apply this 2000-year-old practice today.

  1. The digestion process starts in the kitchen
    Food preparation has a lot to do with how our bodies are nourished. You can help your digestive system break down food easier by slicing it into little pieces. According to Dr. Kit, it’s a lot like outsourcing the process of digestion so our body has little work to do and thus not expending too much energy.

  2. Avoid iced drinks during meals for efficient digestion
    While we all love a cold drink (especially in hot weather), it can do more harm than good to our digestive system. Dr. Kit advises keeping the stomach warm while eating meals. Having a cold drink during meals hampers the heating process of the digestive system, making it work harder than it should.
  3. Eat slowly and chew your food well
    Have you ever experienced that “hindi ako natunawan” feeling? Well, Dr. Kit says it could have something to do with not chewing your food well. This feeling of indigestion usually stems from rushing to consume the food. It is recommended to chew until the food becomes almost a liquid pulp before swallowing.

  4. Go for natural and unrefined food as much as possible
    It’s no secret that highly processed food isn’t healthy, but why so? In TCM, it is recommended to consider how much Qi–also known as energy or life force–a food has before consuming it. When food has been processed multiple times, it loses its Qi which nourishes our bodies.

  5. Incorporate all five food tastes in your diet
    Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and pungent – these five food tastes each play a part in nourishing our bodies. Sweet food boosts our energy while salty ones contribute minerals. Bitter food aid in blood circulation while sour is good for the liver and immunity. Finally, pungent food cleanses and expels the phlegm in the body.

Achieving balance all comes down to making smart choices and changes in our eating habits. While it may be a challenge to alter what we’re used to, it never hurts to start small and learn more about the food we consume. 

If you want to know more about Traditional Chinese Medicine practices, a replay of the workshop is available for streaming at the GoWell Studio, Sun Life’s premier holistic wellness platform exclusive to GoWell Gold members. For more information about the GoWell Studio and how to be a Gold member, check out