FOOD, glorious food -- this may well be the line hitting the minds of thousands of Filipinos from super typhoon stricken areas. In our God-blessed island of Negros, prophesied as "Place of Refuge" in the end times, we bask in a wide array of food. Yet, in the midst of plenty, we can actually still be suffering from malnutrition, i.e., deprived of essential food nutrients due to poor food choices and eating habits.

Food expert Dr. Paavo Airola says that it's not only what you eat, but how you eat them can affect your health. He suggests the following as guidelines:

Eat only when you are hungry. Our daily food requirements are unique and vary from day today. Food eaten without appetite will do us no good, and can harm us by overburdening our digestive system, causing indigestion, gas and other discomforts.

Eat slowly and chew your food well. Food digestion begins with the aid of enzymes in our saliva. Good chewing helps with the increased assimilation of nutrients and makes us feel satisfied with smaller amounts of food. Interestingly, Airola points out that we are not what we eat, rather we are what we assimilate.

Enjoy eating your food. Only food eaten with real pleasure will do us any good.

Relax while eating. Do not bring your problems to the dining table. A peaceful, unhurried and happy atmosphere during eating time will pay well in improved digestion and assimilation of food and thus, better health.

Eat several small meals in preference to two larger meals. This is especially good for those with a weight problem. If taken at two meals a day, a 1,500 calories diet spread out between five or six small meals with 2-03 hour intervals may actually help with weight reduction.

Keep it simple. Our digestion and assimilation will be enhanced if we do not mix too many foods at the same meal. A mono-diet of a single dish or food is best.

Do not mix raw fruits and raw vegetables at the same meal. As far as our digestive enzymes are concerned, they are incompatible and will only result in poor digestion and gas.

Practice systematic under-eating. This, according to Airola, is the number one health and longevity secret. As one saying goes, "A drunkard may reach old age; a glutton, never." Airola avers that one of the main causes of degenerative diseases and premature aging is overeating. He presents this unbelievable truth: The less you eat-the better you feel! Airola points out that this is so "because the food will be more effectively digested and better utilized if your digestive system is not overloaded."

Do not drink too much liquid while eating. Liquids only dilute the digestive juices and slow down the digestive process. Drink lots of liquids between meals, or an hour before meals. Pure spring or well water according to Airola is the best and healthiest thirst quencher.

Finally Airola advises everyone to give thanks for the food you eat. "Think of those who may work harder than you, yet have nothing or little to eat. Be grateful and appreciative for the abundance and the blessings that are yours."