Zoey Gong: Healing Through Food & TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine nutritionist and chef Zoey Gong shares her wellness journey and tips on nourishing your body from the inside out through food and TCM.
Food is medicine and medicine is food. This is one belief Zoey Gong (@zoeyxinyigong) holds strongly. The Shanghai-born Traditional Chinese Medicine nutritionist, chef, consultant, and visual artist is also the founder of Table 81 NYC, a dining experience that offers plant-based medicinal dinners.
One of the things we admire most about Zoey is her dedication to modernising TCM, making it relevant and practical for everyone in today’s world. BEAUBIT chats with Zoey about her wellness journey and tips on nourishing and healing your body from the inside out through food and TCM.
How did your interest in using food for healing begin?
It started when I got sick at the age of 17. At that time, I had just moved to the U.S. and the American diet, which was ladened with highly processed foods, added a lot of stress on my body. I was suffering from a variety of ailments—joint pain, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, breast tumours, and rapid weight gain. It got to the point where I knew I had to change the way I ate. After that realization and plenty of hard work, my conditions got so much better and I decided to pursue healing through food as my career.
What’s your approach when it comes to Traditional Chinese Medicine and wellness?
My approach is to use as much food-based healing as possible and combine the traditional Eastern healing philosophy with Western biomedical sciences. Healing has to be holistic. TCM talks a lot about using food and herbs in daily cooking to achieve wellness and balance. Unfortunately, these valuable pieces of information are not known in the West and even in China, they are outdated and fading away from the lives of the younger generation. My focus is to modernise TCM foods and nutrition and help people understand how to eat according to their own body constitutions, seasonality, and taste preferences.
How has your family or culture influenced your understanding of wellness?
Growing up in a traditional Chinese family definitely helped me understood more about wellness in the TCM world. I grew up seeing TCM herbs like goji, chrysanthemum, and jujube dates in daily meals prepared by my grandparents, along with watching them do acupressure self-massage in the afternoon. I did a foot soak every evening. However, my family and I weren’t particularly “health-conscious” in terms of nutrition. There were many of our eating habits that I would definitely want to change if I could go back in time.
What is a typical skincare routine for you?
I keep it quite simple actually, as I am trying to minimize. To start, I use the 5Yina Divine Bio-Adaptative Cleanser (USD38) to cleanse my face. Then the 5Yina’s Lucent Hydrolat (USD45) to tone my face. After that, it’s Sulwhasoo’s Bloomstay Vitalizing Cream (SGD181) and Origin’s GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream (SGD52). For some light coverage and SPF, I use Cle Cosmetics’ CCC Cream (SGD43). Then I put on an all-natural lipstick made by my friend @heardbeauty to add some colour and shine on my lips.
Zoey’s Beauty Picks
5Yina Divine Bio-Adaptative Cleanser, USD38
5Yina Lucent Hydrolat, USD45
Sulwhasoo Bloomstay Vitalizing Cream, SGD181
Origin GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream, SGD52
Cle Cosmetics CCC Cream, SGD43
What’s your morning routine to get ready for the day?
Mornings are usually quite hectic for me. I get up, drink water, pat on an essential oil, and I’m ready to go. If I have more time, I’ll do some stretching or inversion.
What’s your evening routine for relaxing?
I listen to music or play my singing bowl sometimes. If I had a very sedentary day, I would do some yoga stretches. I also like to read a little before bed, sitting on my tatami with a cup of warm herbal tonic.
What are some of your favourite TCM superfoods that you think people should incorporate into their diet?
For a TCM beginner, I highly recommend goji berries, rose, chrysanthemum, black wood ear mushrooms, osmanthus flowers, lotus seeds, mulberry and jujube dates.
I’m actually launching a website soon (fiveseasonstcm.com). It’s a site where people will be able to find all kinds of recipes and information to help themselves incorporate TCM foods into their daily lives.
With the pandemic going on around the world, taking care of our body becomes a priority. Can you share some TCM recipes that can boost our immune systems?
“Boosting immunity” is really an exaggerated claim, in my opinion. If we generally lead healthy lifestyles and understand where the imbalances are in our body, then we will be able to protect our body against many external pathogens. But here’s a great tonic for flu protection:
Also, medicinal mushrooms like Reishi (or Lingzhi), Lion’s Mane, Chaga, and Cordyceps are great choices too.
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