Controversial

“Coffee? No. Not for you.”

With a wagging finger, a thin one, covered with brown leathery Indian skin, he told me off. I must have looked devastated because he added: “OK. Maybe with milk, can take. But lot of milk. Little coffee.”

I nodded, taking notes. This Ayurveda consultation proved to be more difficult than anticipated. After all, wasn’t I eating healthily? Vegetarian, no alcohol, I wasn’t smoking. Tick, tick, tick. All the boxes. But yes, there was my coffee addiction. And Mr. Doctor had figured that one out quite quickly. How, I don’t know.

Indian sweets are popular. A fact much lamented by Mr. Doctor.

The session had started with him not saying anything. Assuming this silence was meant to prompt me to elaborate on why I was here (like you’d do at the doctor’s), I started explaining myself. “Shhh!” was the only thing he said. And then: “Can I see tongue?” Thankfully, this morning I had thought of using my tongue scraper. After my morning coffee, that is (turns out this is wrong too, but I’ll get to that in a minute).

“Can I feel your pulse now, please?” I extended my left arm and looking back, probably my racing pulse must have given me away, even though there wasn’t any trace of morning coffee on my tongue. Mr. Doctor put his finger on my wrist and looked up towards the ceiling. The moment wouldn’t pass. He half closed his eyes to read on the inside of his eyelids the story of my life. It must have been written there. Or else, all was magic. Because when he let go of my wrist he pretty much told me head on what was my job, what were my biggest fears, my worries in terms of health, my physical ailments and of course all areas in which I hadn’t used my full potential so far.

Remember, we hadn’t spoken as much as two half sentences so far? I was about to respond – but then I realised that he hadn’t asked anything. He was just here to tell.

Coffee? Yes, please. With something sweet!

We then went through my daily food habits, upon which he gave me his approval – or not.

Oats for breakfast? “Veeerrry good.” Indian head wiggle followed.

Handful of nuts as a snack? “Veeerry carrreful. OK to have a few. Not too many.” “So does that mean about 10-15?” “Can have 3-4. Not more.” Right. We were not talking about the same quantities at all here.

We kept on going through the list until he said something that totally threw me off balance.

“One thing I must tell you about grains. Do not eat buckwheat. Is very bad for you.”

“That’s so interesting you’re saying this. I cooked it the other day and when I sat down to eat I was repelled by it. I couldn’t get myself to swallow it and had to throw it away.”

I was in awe. He wasn’t surprised at all. “This is inner intelligence of body.” Head wiggle.

“What you do first thing in morning?” Thinking I could score a point here, I said: “I drink a glass of lukewarm water.” Obviously, wrong. “You have to brush teeth first and clean tongue. Otherwise you swallow all waste products from overnight.” So apparently overnight yummy stuff accumulates in your mouth. You need to get rid of it first. Before drinking or eating.

We sat down for about one hour and whatever I tried to tell him about my body, he knew already. I’ve never given Ayurveda much thought but I am converted now. I’m a big fan.

Having said that, I am typing this while sipping my coffee (yes, with a LOT of milk, Mr. Doctor). You simply can’t be good all the time.

What’s your experience with Ayurveda? And did you jump on the anti-wheat bandwagon?

    Would love to hear your thoughts,

~ Andrea

P.S. Since you’re asking – the most shocking revelation to me was that you must not (repeat: must not) heat honey. So no cooking with honey, and no tea with honey. Apparently, honey becomes toxic when heated. Yes, you’ve read that right. Toxic. Um.

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14 replies »

  1. Love love love your blog posts!! This one especially! Soo interesting – wish you would visit this Doctor more often, love hearing about Ayurvedic approach of medicine! Sounds similar to acupuncture.

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    • Oh me too! The last time I saw this Indian doctor in London but I’m currently looking for a practitioner from India who lives in Melbourne, will post as soon as I get any more insight into how this all works, so fascinating!

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  2. I sooo enjoyed this, Andrea! Especially the head wiggle!! Hahaha,,,

    Why is buckwheat not good? Not that I’m fond of it.
    I only do simple Ayurveda from readings. But I’m planning to attend 2 workshops this month and next.

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    • I don’t think buckwheat is generally bad, it’s just that it’s not good for my constitution. In one hour, we went through such an extensive list of food, drinks and how to prepare meals that I had trouble writing it all down. I just took the fact that I’m so repelled by buckwheat as a hint that he is probably right. Seems one consultation isn’t enough to get to the bottom of all this. He also mentioned that if you move to another climate you will need to cook differently and that then another consultation isn’t a bad idea. It’s a life long journey! 🙂
      I’m curious to know how you find your consultation!

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      • I haven’t consulted yet except for those two workshops coming up. From reading, I do the first thing in the morning ritual: brushing teeth and scraping of tongue, lukewarm lemon water for my skin, lukewarm lemon water to drink… food, being a Vata… I gorge on nuts and I’d die without my peanut butter… so hoping that can be seen the same.
        How we try to reason out, no?!

        I still get confused with most foods. Like I seriously need like a fixed menu to remember them all. A guide/consultant is really a wise choice.

        And true to what you (and head wiggler) said, when we moved, my diet totally changed. I find digesting foods I’ve grown with challenging.
        To add… I will cheat on coffee, too! xo

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  3. I haven’t had an Ayurvedic consultation, yet. However, I was recommended by a yoga instructor to check out Dr. Lad’s book on Ayurveda & Self-Healing. I just started reading it this past week, and already I am checking my tongue in the mirror and will be buying a tongue scraper. The book is starting to inform my yoga practice more, and I am ready to begin the search for a doctor to read my doshas. I plan on going to a holistic doctor in my city here shortly. She studied in India and also here in the United States and mixes both Eastern and Western medicine based on the patient’s needs. I think it’s a great place for me to start. Thanks for this post.

    Also, I now know to stop drinking tea with a spoonful of honey in it and to brush my teeth and scrape my tongue before I drink my first glass of water in the morning. I never knew!

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    • That sounds excellent! I think it’s helpful if the doctor is familiar with the Western way of life and the food available in the respective countries. What’s the use of being recommended to cook with veggies that are not available where we live?
      And you’re right, these small changes can already be so profound. I was shocked when I used the tongue scraper for the first time (well, I won’t go into details… :))
      Thanks for reading!

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  4. I had one consultation with a proper Ayurvedic doc. But normally I just take the advices (or not) from a close friend who seems to know everything without laying a hand on me. First the doc.: I was in great shape when I saw him: eating good, yogaing and meditating and pranayamaing and studying like crazy (which is actually why I went to him). I’m pitta and sometimes my drive is a little too much. The main advice he gave me was to do less yoga. Just do about ten sun salutations (in the South Indian manner which he showed me). That’s enough, just ten sun salutations first thing on the morning. I wasn’t drinking coffee then, but I’m sure he would have frowned at me current consumption.

    As for my friend: he uses everything to give me advice: tongue reading, face reading, pulse reading, astrology reading, palm reading, eye reading, voice reading. Ayurveda is a broad broad subject: fascinating…. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. It sounds like you found a wonderful practitioner. Sadly, my family has not found the right person, and we have tried several. The first supported my vegetarian diet (turns out this causes seizures in my body). The second removed my son’s toenail without any form of anesthesia.
    I still believe whole heartedly in Ayurveda and will continue to search for the best fit for us.
    Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

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  6. I’ve been starting to incorporate some Ayurvedic practices into my (almost daily) routine, and feel “off” when I skip them. Tongue scraping, warm water & lemon, body brushing, little things like that. I’m still very new to learning about Ayurveda but the more I know the more interested I am – would LOVE to have a personalized doctor’s visit like you had!

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    • It was luck and timing! I’m currently in London and an Ayurveda doctor the Indian Sivananda centres work with was spending a week at the centre here. I was able to take the course and have a consultation. Highly recommended!
      I know what you mean though about the little routines. Skipping them makes me feel different right away!

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