Meet Zoey Gong, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) chef and nutritionist. After two breast tumors, constant skin rashes, amenorrhea, and joint pain, Zoey embarked on a journey to find healing. She now holds a B.S. in nutrition and public health, a 200-hour yoga certification, a registered dietitian certification, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Traditional Oriental Medicine. She’s also the founder of Five Seasons TCM, a BIPOC-founded boutique wellness brand that shares and modernizes the knowledge of TCM food therapy through educational content, and functional products. With health and healing being a bigger priority than ever before, we knew we wanted to feature Zoey on The Orcé Edit to share some of her extensive knowledge and expertise.
Describe your healing philosophy for us.
It’s difficult to summarize healing in a couple of short sentences, but here are several themes I consider when it comes to healing:
- Nature. We are part of nature, so it is essential that we are aware of the environment around us and tune our body accordingly. We can come closer to nature by eating seasonally and locally, adjusting our sleeping time as seasons change, taking occasional hikes and trips to be with nature, and growing edible plants like scallion, basil, or even tomatoes.
- Self-awareness. Any healing should be individualized. It’s not about following a wellness trend, but about learning how your body reacts to food, exercise, and emotions – then adjusting from there. Try things, observe, listen, and change.
- Patience. Healing can take time. And our bodies are amazing at healing themselves organically over time. The patience towards cultivating wellness is key in achieving a better self. I invite you to be patient and optimistic.
What is TCM and does it really work?
TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a system of medical modalities originated in ancient China that has been used for thousands of years to treat diseases of all kinds all over the world. There are countless pieces of evidence that show the efficacy of TCM, from anecdotal stories from others, to randomized control trials published in scientific language. If practiced right, TCM can work very well. However, there are certain situations where it may be inefficient – like if the practitioner is less qualified, the herbs are of bad quality, or the disease is out of the realm of TCM (such as HIV).
How would you suggest others incorporate TCM into their everyday life?
There are so many ways to do so. The most obvious one is incorporating herbs and seasonal eating philosophy in your diet. When I’m feeling ill or recovering from an illness, I’ll treat myself with just food and herbs. Meridian massage is also a great wellness practice. It is an incredible way to offer and receive healing and relaxation. But simply staying aware of your body is the easiest way to incorporate TCM into everyday living. How is your tongue looking? What's the color of your period blood? Are there any knots within your muscles? This kind of awareness taught by TCM is the best preventative medicine you could ask for – and not to mention completely free.
Can you provide an example of what you eat in a day while incorporating TCM practices?
Breakfast: Adzuki and coix seed nutmeg millet porridge with sauteed greens and free-range eggs
Lunch: Mung bean quinoa + millet stew with artichoke, celery, and spinach stir fried
Dinner: Seaweed buckwheat bowl with soft tofu + herbal bone broth
What inspired you to pursue a career in TCM & nutrition?
My journey started with healing myself. A lot of health issues started to surface just a couple of months after I came to the U.S. for high school. I gained a lot of weight very quickly, and gradually developed severe acne, skin rash, joint pain, anxiety, and fibroadenoma. I was a teenager at that time, and was feeling stressed and panicked about my health. I did a lot of research on my own and realized that diet was probably the culprit. So I started experimenting with healthy eating. Long story short, it was a journey filled with trial and error, yet changing my diet help me recover from these illnesses and become much more creative in my mind as well. From then on, I decided to dedicate my career to healing through food. I went to New York University for Nutrition and Public Health, and then transitioned to TCM because I am drawn to its more holistic principles that are based on individualism and nature.