—Chinese Medicinal Food Therapist
Where are you at this moment? Tell us a bit about yourself and Qi Food Therapy.
I'm currently in Sydney, Australia. I previously lived in Shanghai, China for 16 years and then taught and traveled Asia (Japan, Singapore, HK and Thailand) from 2017-2019. I'm a Wellness coach, who focuses on: TCM food therapy, Macrobiotics, and Emotional & Metaphysical Anatomy.
I love working with clients and students on raising their awareness about the physical, emotional and energetic layers of the body and ultimately "balancing life energies" for better health. I used to have a health food store & cooking studio in Shanghai, and prior to that a wellness consulting business. Over the years I have found that the missing component to Holistic Nutrition is an understanding and application of Food Therapy and the 5 Elements from Chinese Medicine. Under the multi-layered and a wonderful Chinese medicine lens, we see the larger states of body, mind and spirit. Qi Food Therapy evolved in 2020, and is a true culmination of all my work and vision of bringing the energy of food and emotions to the forefront of well-being, to help people become more conscious of how the body-mind works.
I (Zoey) met you in Shanghai, where you had a cafe and nutrition education center. Could you tell us more about how you opened it and how you started a career in wellness and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?
Yes! Those were some of the best memories I have of living in China; my health food store and kitchen classroom! I was previously working in corporate, in an events, marketing & management firm, but was always fascinated with nutrition and TCM. Back in 2009 I began studying TCM with my mentor, a TCM Doctor, and slowly began to improve my health conditions which at the time were excess body weight, terrible acne and skin conditions, and pretty average digestion.
Alongside cleaning up my diet from a Western nutrition point of view, I applied TCM theories for reducing dampness, cooling foods, took some herbs, had regular acupuncture and my body turned around. I saw the effects of TCM firsthand and embarked on studying more.
Through training with my TCM mentor, taking educational courses, and becoming a Health Coach of Western nutrition, I was able to offer up wellness coaching from both a Western and Eastern perspective. My business partner and I both quit our corporate jobs and launched our health food store. We wanted to spread health food ingredients and hold cooking workshops for people to discover the benefits of healthy eating and empowerment in the kitchen.
What's your current favorite TCM ingredient? How can we use it in our daily eating?
Oooh this is a hard question! So many delicious functional foods and everyday foods are my favourite! I would have to say black fungus and red dates, I can't pick one! I'm also currently in Winter in Australia when writing this. Black fungus is such a wonderful ingredient for the Water element and kidneys. I love including it sliced into fried noodles, a must if I have noodle soup, both easy ways to cook with it. For red dates or Jujube dates, I eat them plain as a snack, but also love them in brewed tea with burdock, or chopped & blended up date paste which I then use for desserts and baked goods. These dates are wonderful for nourishing the blood.
Burdock & Red Date Tea
Which body constitution do you have and what are some things you do to restore balance?
I used to be the hot-damp constitution and the environmental conditions of humid Shanghai didn't help. I started learning about and being very mindful about foods that contributed to or worsened dampness and foods that helped alleviate dampness. In addition to exercise, lifestyle habits (sleep, eating times, attire), and emotional factors of the Spleen/Stomach, I applied as much as I could, which brought significant balance back to my body and energy.
Chinese Barley, Lotus Seed and Mung Bean Sweet Soup
My skin began to clear up! One thing that really changed my body was cutting out dairy; I lost weight, and I became really aware of the impact of food on the body and organs and the power functional foods from TCM had! Nowadays, I practice using the 5 elements in the kitchen using food therapy, in my movement and exercise - so doing more Yin yoga and Qigong in the evenings, and seasonally with my emotions and mindfulness practices.
Steamed Mountain Yam with Two Dipping Sauces
What's your next dream destination post-pandemic?
I really miss and look forward to returning to Asia for regular trips, teachings and trainings. I can't wait to be back in China and Japan in particular, but I have many students and friends in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Aside from physically travelling, I look forward to growing the Qi Food Therapy platform. In my mission to help support people obtain their health goals and find more balance in their life energy, I hope to part take in numerous collaborations, and spread the 5 Elements, Food Energetics & Cooking, and my understanding of Emotional Wellness. I also hope to launch my e-courses on Cycles and Energetic & Spiritual Nutrition.
Stewed Blueberry Kuzu Pudding
We are carrying two of your amazing recipe/educational books in our online store. What was the process of making these books? What was your favorite part of it?
I wanted to bring awareness to common health conditions and the TCM approach. My co-author, Evan Pinto, an acupuncturist and TCM Doctor, came together to combine forces to write the theory and recipes for helping people with these conditions. I picked the most prevalent condition for each of the 5 Elements and started with the Earth element, which involves the spleen/stomach organs and the element of Dampness, and in the Wood element, we see the liver/gallbladder organs and Liver Qi Stagnation.
There is much benefit to eating well, exercising and adjusting lifestyle habits in between the visits to your acupuncturist or TCM doctor and I hope the e-books help people get the most out of their sessions by learning and practicing food therapy in daily life. The process of writing the e-books was fun, yet challenging to condense the information and pick easy and delicious recipes! My favourite part was and always is the creative process of recipe writing and picking the food photos. Now that these two books are done, we are working on the next three e-books, so stay tuned! And thanks to Five Seasons TCM for sharing these e-books with more like-minded people!
One of the Two e-books from Qi Food Therapy Book Series