The Importance of a Healthy Relationship with Food
Published | 6 min read
A healthy relationship with food is the foundation of good overall wellbeing. Learn why this is important and how to get started on your journey.
Humans need relationships to live — quite literally. This includes a healthy relationship with food.
Referring to our connection with food as a relationship can seem strange if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. Many people don’t think they have an affinity with food, but it may be more important than you realise.
Why? Food encompasses many aspects of our lives, including our moods and overall well-being. It brings us together in social settings and can be tied to memories and emotions. This connection also means making a conscious effort to eat a variety of food that is fresh and nutritious.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also believes in this concept. Let’s explore the importance of having a positive relationship with food and learn some tips to start your journey.
Why is a Healthy Relationship with Food Important?
Proper nutrition and eating habits are an integral part of TCM. As with all its aspects, the TCM diet is holistic in its approach. It means more than simply making the right food choices as it considers your ability to digest and assimilate foods too.
Eu Yan Sang TCM Physician Kwek Le Yin reveals there are three reasons why it’s important to have a healthy relationship with food
1. It affects the body both physically and mentally
The food we eat daily affects our physical and mental health. A healthy diet contributes to a sound body and mind. On the contrary, not paying attention to what you eat can lead to obesity and cause fatigue.
2. It balances the body
TCM views food and medicine as originating from the same source – a concept called yao shi
At the same time,
3. It improves overall wellbeing
TCM believes a healthy relationship with food can nourish your Spleen and stomach. It can improve the organs’ physiological functions to transform food into nutrients, which is transported along with water to other parts of the body.
Physician Kwek explains an unhealthy relationship with food can result in metabolic disorders, as well as
TCM Views on Food
In TCM, the saying “You are what you eat”, rings even truer. What you eat directly affects your body. Physician Kwek explains that TCM believes food, like herbs, has different natures based on their effects on your body.
According to TCM,
Green beans, bitter gourd, lotus root, konjac, water spinach (kang kong), winter melon, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, Chinese radish, celery, water celery, lettuce, pear, bananas, sugarcane, mulberries, watermelon, pomelo, crab, clam, kombu, and seaweed.
Wheat, barley, red beans, tofu, winter melon, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, chinese radish, celery, water celery, water spinach, lettuce, apple, lemon, strawberries, mango, coconut, pork, duck eggs, milk, Chinese green tea, and Chinese white tea.
Rice, corn, sweet potatoes, potatoes, soybeans, black beans, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, Chinese cabbage (大白菜), kale, orange, grapes, pineapples, mushrooms, black fungus, white fungus, bird’s nest, pig trotters, chicken eggs, quail eggs, and oysters.
Glutinous rice, Chinese chives, coriander, onions, spring onions, peach, cherry, pomegranate, lychee, chicken, beef, pig’s stomach, prawn, Chinese Red tea
Lamb, chili, durian, pepper, and dried ginger.
As mentioned in the ancient Chinese medical text Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, Cold symptoms should be treated by Heat while Cold should remedy Hot symptoms to achieve a balanced state.
Heaty symptoms include sore throat, cough with yellow phlegm, ulcers, increased appetite and thirst, and a warm feeling. Meanwhile, Cold symptoms include cough with watery phlegm and feeling cold easily.
To know which kind of food to eat and avoid, see this
|Body Constitution||Food to Eat||Food to Avoid|
How to Build Your Relationship with Food
According to TCM philosophy, one of the golden rules of health is never to take the extreme route. A balanced diet, where food is consumed in appropriate combinations based on their natures and flavours, supplements the essence that the human body needs.
Physician Kwek suggests incorporating the following principles into your everyday life to create a healthy relationship with food.
- Eat at regular hours
- Eat moderately; no more food once you feel like you are 70% full
- It’s better to eat more often in smaller portions
- Only consume properly cleaned food
- Limit your intake of processed, oily food, and junk food
How do you maintain a balance? The general rule is to bring your body back to equilibrium and listen to what your body says. “By paying more attention to how your body feels, it can provide a direction on what to eat and avoid,” Physician Kwek notes.
Your food choices and the relationship you nurture or abuse will affect your body, mind, and
Have a tip about building a healthy relationship with food? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.
- Health University of Utah. 2023. Seven Reasons Why Loving Relationships are Good for You. [Accessed on 29 March 2023]
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2020. Nutrition and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): a system’s theoretical perspective. [Accessed on 29 March 2023]
- Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine. How the 5 flavours of TCM & whole foods influence better health. [Accessed on 29 March 2023]
- Clinical Nutrition Experimental. 2018. Food therapy and medical diet therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. [Accessed on 29 March 2023]
- The journal for nurse practitioners. 2010. Promoting Optimal Health with Traditional Chinese Medicine. [Accessed on 29 March 2023]
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