Zoey Gong is a nutritionist, chef and artist with a passion to promote and share her cultural heritage, creatively representing Traditional Chinese Medicine and philosophy. Zoey specialises in mostly plant-based Chinese medicinal cuisine as well as holistic treatments, including Meridian Yoga, Moxibustion and Accupressure.
What inspired you to train as a nutritionist?
I first came to the U.S. when I was 16, knowing anything about nutrition or healthy eating. After just months of eating the American diet, I was very sick. I had two breast tumors, constant skin rashes, fast weight gain, and joint pain. The steroids that western doctors gave me stopped the symptoms, but did not eliminate my root problems. I had to learn on my own and changed the way I ate.
The results were beyond surprising. I felt unbelievably better, even better than before I came to the U.S. I realised how much power food could have on our health. That's when I decided to pursue a degree in nutrition and public health at New York University. Through my studying, my understanding of food and nutrition developed very quickly, which lead me to combine eastern and western nutrition together. Now my approach towards nutrition is a fusion of biomedicine and TCM.
How would you describe Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a very mature, well-studied, and comprehensive healing tradition originated in China thousands of years ago. Many Asian cultures share some of it and have been using TCM in their daily lives, even today.
Comparing to biomedicine, TCM is very approachable and holistic. It is not just the herbal formulas one might think. TCM consists of acupuncture, moxibustion (a heat treatment), acupressure, tui na (Chinese massage), herbal medicine, Qi Gong, and food therapy, which is my focus. It is extremely individualised and aligned with the changes in nature. The treatment for the same disease may vary drastically for different individuals and during different seasons. It is also rooted in philosophy, where the ultimate health is considered to be the perfect balance of yin and yang.
Where can someone find traditional medicine's?
I recommend Kamwo Herb and Tak Shing Hong. Two amazing TCM online shops that also have physical locations in New York and other parts of the U.S. I also recommend to consult a TCM practitioner to get herbs and understand your body constitution first.
How can holistic treatments support a healthy life?
In so many ways! Holistic treatment, at least in terms of TCM, is the way of living. It guides us to live with nature and adjust the imbalances in our body with simple things like food, self-massage, music, and breathing. For example, when we feel angry or agitated, we can massage our liver meridian to remove the stagnation that may have caused the emotions; then we can have foods like celery, chrysanthemum, dark leafy vegetables, and goji berries to quiet down the uprising liver fire; then we can do some qi gong exercise for the qi to flow better in our liver meridian; and before we go to bad, we can moxa Tai Chong Point on our feet to relieve headaches and dizziness that are sometimes related to angry emotions. It is all about figuring out our imbalances and do what we can at home to re-balance it.
You are also an artist, what does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is fun, joyful, and full of surprises. Human brains are designed to be creative. However, creativity, at least for me, did not arrive until I understood myself more, both physically and emotionally. Growing up in a strict communist education system, I was trapped to perform well on exams and to conform to the norm that "there is only one correct answer". I lived for the expectations from others. It took me a very long time to be able to listen to my heart and find the creativity hidden in my marrow.
You might ask how I got to finally listen to my heart. Well, it's complicated and almost impossible to explain. It's a lot of trials and errors, a lot of Buddhist readings, and a lot of law of attractions. I think finding TCM and art as my passion really guided me on the right path. Certainly, eating well fuels creativity. It helps me to see my vision more clearly and actually create it into reality with motivation and focus.
Are there any teachings or philosophies that your draw inspiration from?
Buddhism. It is so enlightening and freeing. I always feel there is nothing that I couldn't get through after reading Buddhist texts. Some Taoism too, about going back to nature. I, and nature, are one.