- Meet Zoey, Elix's TCM advisor, licensed dietitian and nutritionist focused on holistic food therapy rooted in plant-based Chinese medicinal cuisine.
- Learn Zoey's tips for building a healthy relationship between our mind, body, and food.
- Get Zoey's library of recipes created to mix your Elix herbal formulas into.
At Elix, our mission is to build a community of holistic healthcare practitioners to provide us with the tools and knowledge to support our health and wellness everyday of the year. That’s why when Elix first launched, we teamed up with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) advisor Zoey Gong, a Brooklyn based professional chef and TCM nutritionist. She has a B.S. in nutrition as well as public health from New York University, a licensed registered dietitian (R.D.), and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Traditional Oriental Medicine at Pacific College of Health and Sciences. We sat down with Zoey to learn about her journey with TCM cuisine, and get advice on how we can incorporate TCM into our own lives to find a healthy balance in our diet, menstrual health, and overall wellness.
What brought you into the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine? How has it changed your life?
I had a lot of health issues when I first came to the U.S. at the age of 16. I was suffering from a variety of ailments: joint pain, acne, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, breast tumors, and rapid weight gain. It got to the point where I knew I had to change the way I ate.
Making those changes truly changed my life, both physically and emotionally. I learned firsthand that food can be a poison, and more importantly, a powerful medicine. I was sold right away after seeing my body change, so I decided to learn how to motivate others to do so as well.
I studied clinical nutrition in college and went on the path to become a registered dietitian and wellness chef. However, I soon realized that it wasn't what I had envisioned. I was working more with restrictions and numbers of nutrients rather than people’s individual needs and natural foods. At the same time, acupuncture and TCM herbs helped cure my amenorrhea (absence of a period). So I transitioned to study TCM and fell in love with it immediately. Everything made sense. I've been walking the path of a TCM nutritionist and chef ever since.
What do you love most about your work as a TCM chef and nutritionist?
I dedicate my life to modernizing Traditional Chinese Medicine cuisine with my brand Five Seasons TCM, where people can experience plant-based medicinal dinners, participate in herbal workshops, learn from our resources online, and order herbal ingredients for cooking. I truly believe in the power of food, not only in its nutritional values and taste, but also in culture, aesthetics, and human connections. And TCM cuisine embodies all aspects of it, which is why I want to bring it closer to people.
What advice do you have for incorporating TCM into our cooking and eating habits?
With TCM, the first step is to eat with the season because it’s crucial to align our bodies with our environments. Each season corresponds to an array of fresh foods, dried foods, and herbs that are the most suitable for the time of the year. For example, in fall, I recommend foods that can help our body prevent dryness, maintain respiratory health, and support immunity. Some great choices are stewed pear, broccoli sprouts, lily bulb (bai he), squash and pumpkin, spices like cinnamon and clove, reishi, shiitake mushrooms, and napa cabbage. Some recipes to try that incorporate some of these great seasonal ingredients are my honey-ginger poached pear with vegan cream and my pumpkin spiced sweet potato latte!
The next step involves a diet that fits your body’s needs. For example, a raw diet could be beneficial for people who have a lot of excess heat, but it could be damaging to those who are constitutionally deficient and cold. Menstrual health is closely related to our imbalances and constitution. If you have a cold constitution and suffer from cramps or amenorrhea due to cold (Elix’s Health Assessment helps us figure that out), you should consume warming herbs and foods to balance it. If you continue to eat juices and salads, you are not doing the best thing for your cycle. On the other hand, cramps and excess bleeding during our period can be caused by heat as well. If you consume a lot of trendy health foods like turmeric and ginger shots, you may make the heat worse. That's why I developed a constitution quiz on Five Seasons TCM for us to understand our bodies better and eat accordingly.
With your expertise, what are some tips for a holistic approach to diet while on your period?
I personally recommend trying a herbal formula for PMS that’s the right combination for your body. Using Elix is a great place to start; your formula is tailored to your body’s needs and unique pattern of imbalance, and like many Chinese herbal formulas, it takes time to see results to really help your body re-balance.
Another tip is to drink only warm liquids. Not just during your period, but all the time. It’s beneficial for your digestion and overall wellness. I love mixing my own herbal formula into quick and easy recipes like my multigrain pumpkin porridge recipe, or even my adaptogenic hot chocolate recipe if I am having a sweet craving.
When I am busy, I love to add my Elix tinctures to my water bottle and just carry it with me to drink throughout the day. Plain water, believe it or not, is not the most efficient way to hydrate. I always look for things to add to it and Elix is perfect!