I was not as passionate about food when I was a child. Growing up, I was eating a lot of nutrition-dense foods but I wasn't aware of it.
My dad loves fish; hence, having fish on our dining table became a family ritual. And, naturally, as you can guess, I grew up eating a lot of fish and have developed this strong ability of tolerating fishiness in fish.
We had broth almost every day which my mom made with pork bones, pork ribs, lean pork, fish heads, or fish bones.
My mom was my adviser when I needed suggestions on what foods can heal my different health conditions. For example, she taught me to eat bitter melons to heal occasional breakouts and to drink chrysanthemum honeysuckle flower tea for a sore throat.
I guess it is because I grew up with this environment, that I took it for granted and didn't value too much the importance of eating whole foods and bone broth.
My Wake-Up Call: What My Skin Problems Have Taught Me
In 2010 I came to the US to study.
School work, the need to adjustment to a new social and cultural environment consumed most of my attention and energy. Gradually, traditional eating wisdom went dormant in my brain.
I started to have cereal and milk every morning and ate without paying much attention to the nutritional values in foods; at one point, I was even proud of my invention of mixing cereal and salsa - packed with sugar and preservatives - and treated it as a snack.
The year of me coming to the US was the year where I started to develop serious skin problems. My boyfriend then (now my husband) suggested me cutting down processed wheat and dairy products I was having. I followed his advice and my skin was drastically improved.
This prompted me to study nutrition and explore how food, the skin, and the body are related. I learned that skin can be seen as a mirror that reflects your overall health. This realization made me become more eager to know how our body works and the science behind how food can influence the skin and the body.
Besides noticing the food body connection, I was also aware of the influence of stress on my skin, too: the more stress I had, the worse my skin condition became, even when I was having the right food. I realized that taking control of emotions is as important as eating the right food.
Continuing My Search on the Path of Holistic Health
Starting in April, 2013, to better cope with stress, I began to explore how to achieve emotional balance and inner peace, besides learning about nutrition.
I started the journey with an at-home power yoga program and immediately fell in love with the teaching that it's the ability to control body movements and thoughts in the mind that will lead to more health and happiness.
In November of the same year, I participated a 10-day meditation retreat; during that experience, I learned that the reason we have stress is due to the personal value and beliefs that we impose on ourselves, and that meditation is scientifically proven to calm the nervous system, lower levels of inflammation, and improve digestion and memory.
In 2014, I went to see a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner based in Lexington, Massachusetts, for a 6-month treatment called muscle testing to find out on how to further heal my skin problems.
My lessons learned from those half-a-year period are precious.
Instead of directly treating my skin problems topically, she believed that I should start from healing some of my internal organs - in my case, I needed to strengthen my liver and kidney functions - by taking herbal supplements, changing my diets, and improving overall lifestyle; besides, here's what I found:
- There is healing power in eating whole foods (especially seasonal and local foods);
- Because your body is different from mine, we need to explore and adopt our own diets that fits us individually;
- The mind and the body are connected. I can still clearly remember the words of the TCM practitioner: "if you take care of the body, you may change your personality; if you change your emotional state, you may change the health status in the body as well;"
- According to Traditional Chinese Medicine which has been teaching for more than two thousand years: vibrant health is achieved with physical well-being and inner peace; and it is important to obtain peace of mind to deal with every event in life (which, of course, also includes eating).
I was feeling my paths were slowly coming together; and I started to refer back to my upbringing often and reflect on what my mom cooked for the family.
Meanwhile, my growing interest in yoga and holistic health later guided me to a Yoga Teacher Training Course program in Woodbourne in upstate New York; and I got my teaching certificate on June 27th, 2015.
Oh, Then There's My Recent Study on Microbiology
In April, 2015, I developed an interest in learning more about fermented vegetables. This led me to the world of microbiology; since then, this topic has never failed to amaze me.
Did you know that you are vastly occupied by invisible microbial community and that their cells are 10 times more than your human cells? Furthermore, they are performing life-sustaining functions for you at every second.
You see, bacteria are not all bad. We should not only feed the body but also serve our microbial allies. In addition, you and I should live a healthy lifestyle from a serving perspective, as what we eat and how we live can nourish or threaten these friendly microbes.
I also see the importance of leveraging traditional eating wisdom and modern science to optimize our health. Here is an example of what I mean:
TCM categorizes the stomach and the spleen as the "Earth" element, the most important among the five fundamental elements, and believes that taking good care of the stomach and the spleen is crucial and nourishes life. Meanwhile, we now have the latest discoveries in microbiology that have recognized the contribution of gut flora, which functions like a "second brain".
All these suggest to me that traditional wisdom should be respected; and science can help us understand our body in a more precise way.
Would you like to learn more about how your friendly bacteria are serving you tirelessly for your health? Come this way to learn more.
During my study of microbiology, I came across the book Nourishing Traditions, a passage taking me back to my upbringing.
As I was flipping through the pages, I could hear Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (co-authors of the book) were urging me to go back to my root, connect with it, and start sharing more traditional wisdom with you.
All These Lead to My Key Beliefs Today…
You see, traditional influence from my family and my journey of seeking better skin -- which has led me to realizing the importance of a holistic lifestyle -- have brought me to where I am today.
When I reflect on what I have learned over the years, I see that following four areas will make a more complete picture in healthy eating, which I look forward to continuing to discuss with you throughout this website:
- We should leverage traditional wisdom and nutritional science to optimize our health and well-being.
- Eat whole foods, and cook them properly.
- Be mindful of how you consume foods (for example, what mood are you in, what is your surrounding, and who are you eating foods with).
- Wholesome life is awesome life (wholesomeness includes eating nutritious meals, having a balanced mind, and living a healthy lifestyle).
I know, this can still be a little vague to you. You can learn more about this by grabbing my Health Manifesto, plus some exclusive weekly wholesome tips along the way.
Where I'm At Now
I've recently launched my book (now an Amazon Best Bestseller) on vegetable fermentation to help you learn more about your body, the microbes inside you, and how consuming fermented foods can lead you to better health, skin, and mood.
Since 2016 I have been a member of Weston A Price Foundation (a non profit organization dedicated to food research and education); and I'm currently taking (and loving) this eye-opening course called "Transformation Your Relationship with Food" (a program that dives into the psychology of eating and explains why you should not only focus on what you eat, but how you eat and who you are as a person to optimize your digestion and overall well-being).
I pick up energy from people and care for building genuine and long-lasting friendship. True friends are those who lift one another up. That's the positive environment I hope to create here. As growing is a community effort rather than an individual endeavor, I'd like to invite you to stay connected with me. In this journey, we lift each other up. I look forward to evolving with you.
- Facebook and Twitter (you will find out my kitchen experiments, quotes, news, personal thoughts, and life updates.)
- Instagram (I give you an "online magazine" with tips on how to eat, cook, and live mindfully. Oh, as I feel connected to photography, it's a place where I develop the hobby, too.)
Finally, Other Trivial Things about Me
- Mom to a "furry baby" Liberty (the white Golden Retriever you see on the top of this page)
- Native in Mandarin and Cantonese
- Chinese zodiac: Tiger
- Horoscope: Sagittarius, idealistic and sometimes forgetful
- Proud of my beautiful and fast-growing hometown Shenzhen
- Now living in New Hampshire, USA.
That's How I Connected All the Dots So Far. Back to You.
What's the one thing that's bothering you the most right now. How can I help?
You've got no idea how thankful I am to see you stick to the end of the page! Please feel free to look around and pick anything you find useful.
I hope to talk to you soon,