*First things first, at the time of writing this post, this diploma course is conducted in Chinese only. If you have great difficulty understanding Chinese and prefer English language, you can contact Singapore TCM college to check whether they offer this course in English.
The Diploma in Chinese Medicated Food Dietitian course is conducted over two years (3 hours each on Saturdays and Sundays) at the Singapore TCM College, which is located at Toa Payoh (Singapore).
Time files and we just graduated from the class of 2016 =) One of the highlights in this course is that we went to China Yangzhou University for 10 days to learn TCM dishes from the masters there!
Below is the curriculum for your reference if you are considering to enroll in this two year course. I will also share what each module covers and what are my key takeaways in the rest of this article.
1. 中医基础理论 – Basic TCM Theory (68 hours)
This first module is exciting as it opens up the TCM concept to everyone. This module consists of 68 hours of classroom learning (which is one of the biggest module out of the whole course). The coverage includes TCM history, Yin Yang concept, Five elements (五行) concept, TCM human organs (五脏) concept.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me in this first module is understanding each and every of our five organs and how they associate with our human functions. For example, if our eyes have issues, it is commonly linked to our liver. If we have hearing issues, it could be due to kidney. We also learn what are the relationship between each organ such as Liver-Kidney, Heart-Lung etc.
2. 中医诊断学 – TCM Diagnostics (48 hours)
This second module is one of those that I look forward to because is covers how to diagnose a person’s illness based on the person’s face, eye, body, skin, tongue, pulse. Also, we learn what to ask a person’s to find the root cause of the illness.
The most valuable lesson for me in this module is when we were taught how to check each other’s pulses and determine what kind of pulse we have. It is a fun session as we check the pulse of the classmates sitting beside us and the teacher also go around sharing and highlighting some mistakes made by us.
Another lesson I remembered strongly is the observing of one’s tongue. We all have different body types and our tongue will reflect what is our main body type. That lesson is priceless as I learn how to tell one’s body type after looking at the person’s tongue.
3. 中药学 – Chinese Medicine Study (64 hours)
This module is one of my favorite because it teaches us the properties of Chinese medicine and I am amazed that the teacher actually go through one by one! We spent the whole 64 hours learning each Chinese medicine. Honestly, it is very overwhelming because of all the information but I tell myself at least I just need to remember a few and make a practice to use them in my daily life then it will well worth the time!
The greatest takeaway from this lesson is learning what kind of Chinese Medicine suits different people. It is because of these valuable knowledge, now I frequently cook Chinese Barley for my family and Chinese yam (山药) porridge for myself.
4. 方剂学 – Chinese Medicine Formula Study (60 hours)
After learning each type of Chinese medicine, this next module covers how different medicine comes together to formulate a solution (方剂). For example, a very popular formula for curing flu (cold-wind type) is 麻黄汤 which consists of 麻黄，桂枝，杏仁， 甘草。This formula targets to expel the coldness in one’s body as sweat to cure the flu. We learn how different medicine come together to create a much bigger synergy and stronger effect as compared to just using one medicine.
I also learn that there are different forms of Chinese Medicine formula like pills, herbs (raw and dried form) as well as powdered so what are the differences? Allow me to share with you below:
In accordance of speed of medicine effectiveness, herbs (raw and dried form) has the fastest effect. If you need to cure an illness fast, always choose the herbs form (but you must boil and cook them) to achieve a faster effect. I recalled there was once my mother feeling unwell and vomiting and we gotten a few herbs from a TCM doctor and immediately after taking the drink (after the herbs were cooked), my mom stopped vomiting. That was the fist time I witness the power of Chinese medicine in herbs form. However, not many TCM doctor prescribe dried herbs nowadays.
The next one is powdered form, which is most common form of Chinese Medicine you will get nowadays in most TCM clinics. The greatest advantage of powdered form is that it is very convenient to consume as you just need to add warm water because you don’t need to cook it. But the speed of seeing results is slower than the above method.
The last type is pills form. Comparing to the above two methods, pills often require much longer time to see results. It is recommended for long term illness and not short term discomfort like vomiting, stomachache etc. However, one greatest advantage of using pills is that you will not taste the Chinese medicine (comparing to the above two methods) especially some people don’t like the taste of Chinese Medicine.
5. 中医养生学 – TCM for Health and Longevity (32 hours)
I can’t find a direct translation for the Chinese characters ‘养生’ so I came up with my own interpretation which is Health and Longevity. This module talks about how one can stay have a long and healthy life based on TCM wisdom. A significant part of this module covers diet as well, especially what kind of people should adapt what kind of diet.
My greatest takeaway from this module (actually, this is the most valuable takeaway for this entire two years) is how to determine what body type a person is and recommend what diet for that person. There are nine body types overall:
- Qi Deficiency Type
- Yang Deficiency Type
- Yin Deficiency Type
- Tropical Type
- Water Stag Type
- Qi Stag Type
- Blood Stag Type
- Sensitive Type
- Balanced Type
You can find out what is your body type on this page so that you will know what food to eat / avoid in order to strengthen your body.
6. 食用造型美学 – Food Decoration Study (24 hours)
This is the first practical module that relates to food. We learn different kinds of decoration and ways to cut fruits and food to present to improve food appetite. I learnt a lot from this module and it is the first time I cut fruits to present them beautifully. There are some hard work but once you get used to it, you will like it when your family members or friends see the outcome of your work =)
7. 食品卫生学 – Food Hygiene Study (32 hours)
Food hygiene module really give a lot of useful information on how to handle raw food (food storage, etc.) especially if you want to open a restaurant or food stall in future. In this module, we learnt what factors will affect the growth of bacteria in food ingredients.
One of the greatest takeaway from this module is that I learnt that when we buy fresh meat or fish from the market, and if we want to cook the meat / fish within the next three days, we can store them in the fridge (chiller compartment) but if we want to cook it beyond the third day, then we need to keep them in the freezer immediately once we reached home. And the best defrost method is to take the meat / fish out from the freezer and put it in the chiller two days before you want to cook it. These knowledge maybe fundamentals for most people who cook but for me, this is really useful!
8. 中医营养食疗学 – TCM Food Nutrition Study (48 hours)
I am quite surprised that in this module, we learnt a lot on vitamins and minerals that are needed by our human body. We talked about different type of minerals and vitamins and they are beneficial to us as well as different type of meat, fruits and vegetables. This information in this module is overwhelming too! At the end of this module, we were introduced some dishes that help to strengthen our organs too.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway for me from this module is learn that the importance of including mushrooms in our daily diet. Especially for vegetarians, mushrooms is a good source of protein. On top of this, mushroom also has anti-cancer properties. Almost all mushrooms have good benefits on us except the button mushrooms (those common ones available in canned form). So if you can, eat less of those mushrooms if possible!
9. 食品卫生法规 – Food Hygiene Law (12 hours)
This is the shortest module where we learn the laws applicable in Singapore if you want to apply for license to sell food (either in Hawker centre or restaurant). Personally I take up this course is for self interest and not so much for business interest, so I didn’t really focus a lot on this module. But if you are someone who is keen to start a F&B business in Singapore, you will find this module useful and good to connect with the Lecturer who is also an experienced F&B consultant in Singapore.
10. 中华药膳学 – Chinese Medicated Diet (72 hours)
This is the main focus for this whole course and we are so delighted that the Principle of the school (项平院长) personally teach and share with us his wisdom from start to end! This module is what most of us have been waiting to learn from the beginning! It covers hundreds of dishes for different type of illness and this module also teaches us the different way of cooking like steam, water boil, fry and many others.
I am happy that we have some hands-on lessons to practice cooking and making bao with Chinese medicine before we went to China. My greatest takeaway is the hands-on where everyone comes together and work as a team to prepare the dishes that we learn. We had a lot of fun =)
11. 烹饪器具使用和维护 – Cooking Utensils Usage and Maintenance (24 hours)
This is one of the few last modules and we were taught the different cooking or rather kitchen equipment and maintenance. This module is very short and the content is not as rich as I thought. Most of the things taught are mostly applicable to commercial stall so if you are looking to start a F&B business, then this is a good module for you.
12. 烹饪经营与管理学 – F&B Operations and Management Study (16 hours)
This module is more for people who want to start a F&B business, so again, most of the things taught is just for my knowledge. My greatest takeaway here is learning from the life & business experience from our class monitor, who is 沈希， the founder of 沈希老火汤 in Singapore. I am really fortunate to be in the same class as him for these two years =)
13. 扬州大学实习 – Hands-On Experience At Yangzhou University (48 hours)
I was pretty anxious about this trip because I don’t know what to expect but I heard that it was packed with activities (classes, cooking). Indeed, we hardly have time personally other than after the class ends around 6pm.
Everyday our class starts at 8am and we have to catch the bus from school outside our hotel at 7.30am. But I really enjoy that period of time where we wake up, have breakfast in hotel, say good morning to classmates then wait for the bus, I cherish every moment from climbing the staircase (to the classrooms / kitchen) to changing to our chef uniform because I know that very likely in short term there won’t be much chance in future I will be back to Yangzhou University to learn again.
We had a very fulfilling experience over in China learning theory and practical from the Masters. I am also happy that we had some time in the second last day to tour around the city as a class before we head back to Singapore. I am not a photo-taking person so the following are almost all the photos I have.. =p
You can read more about our China trip over at Singapore TCM College website here.
Few Months After I Returned From China Yangzhou…
I am happy whenever I can put what I have learnt into practice. After I returned from China, I make it a habit to cook some of our meals with my wife using what I have learnt. I particularly like to cook porridge because it is much easier to add Chinese medicine to help us harmonize the Yin Yang energy in our body from time to time. The following are some of the simple dishes my wife and I prepared at home (I’d never imagine I could do this before this course)!
I have personally benefited from this course greatly. From the skills I learnt, I can now able to plan, prepare and cook meals for my family members considering their different body types. You can check out for more details regarding this course here.
I hope that this post help to clarify some questions in your mind if you are considering to take this Diploma course or not. Good luck!
Ending note: I will be sharing some of the important things I have learnt from this course in this blog because I hope more people can benefit from the TCM wisdom. If you have any questions for me, you can post your comments below.