"Food is Medicine" | Zoey Gong, Founder of Five Seasons TCM
Zoey Gong is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) chef, nutritionist, and artist living in New York City. Inspired by her Chinese roots and her own self-healing journey, she founded Five Seasons TCM, a space for TCM food therapy and education. Read below to learn more about TCM and Zoey's simple advice for infusing TCM ingredients in a cup of tea.
Five Seasons TCM and Us Two Tea will be presenting at Before Noon's A Self-Care Friendsgiving event on November 18. Zoey will host an acupressure session and introduce the TCM body constitutions. Give thanks to yourself this year by joining the holistic self-care event, which will highlight the benefits of Taiwanese tea, TCM, and practicing gratitude.
What inspired you to become a TCM nutritionist?
It started with self-healing. I had a lot of health issues when I first came to the U.S. almost 9 years ago. Changing the way I ate really, really helped. I became so much lighter and happier both physically and emotionally. I first studied biomedical nutrition in New York. In the process of learning it, working in the hospital, and cooking all the trendy health foods, I was disappointed to find that sometimes the theory and practice are not natural or effective. So I started to look into TCM, and I was obsessed. It makes so much sense and it works so well combined with my biomedical nutrition background!
What makes TCM nutrition unique?
TCM nutrition really stands out among many mainstream nutrition trends and programs! First, it is very individualized. There is no "one diet fits all". We all have different body constitutions and dietary preferences. TCM nutrition excels at adjusting individual imbalances and guides people to eat for their own body type rather than a popular trend that might only be good for a certain group of people. Secondly, it is never too restricting or limiting. It rarely excludes a certain food group (e.g. carbs) or forces one to be gluten-free. It allows flexibility and celebrates the joy of eating. It is also unique in its use of TCM food-medicine herbs, which are both medicinal and delicious in most cases!
What are the misconceptions about TCM nutrition?
TCM is still a very niche subject. Not a lot of people know about it and it is not taught properly at TCM schools. Some common misconceptions are that TCM herbs are dirty and unsafe, TCM is a pseudoscience, and Chinese cuisine is not healthy. It always saddens me to see comments and concerns like these. However, I understand that the TCM nutrition information out there is very outdated, only catered to an older Chinese population, and sometimes based on myths and superstition. I hope to change that. I want to provide approachable, modern, evidence-based information on TCM nutrition to people all over the world.
What's one piece of TCM knowledge you'd like to share with our readers?
Follow nature and listen to your body. Eating healthy is not as complicated as the industry makes it seem. For more advice, explore my website or instagram @zoeyxinyigong.
How can we add TCM ingredients into our daily lives?
I offer some TCM ingredients on Five Seasons TCM and will be expanding the products in the future. Incorporating TCM ingredients into tea is a super easy way to nourish your body.
I recommend adding some goji berry and chrysanthemum to your favorite cup of Us Two Tea and letting them infuse into the tea. Plus, you can eat the goji berries. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Chrysanthemum, a dried flower (pictured below), is known to improve the body's resistance to stress.