Monday, February 23, 2009


I saw an Ayurvedic practitioner this weekend. The lovely Dr. Susan Barr on 4th Ave. in Vancouver.

I had been doing a lot of research online, trying to determine my dosha and an appropriate diet to appease it. To achieve that elusive balance. Self-diagnosis through online questionnaires and random research is sketchy, but I felt fairly certain I knew what course of action I needed to take. And finally, I felt that I was ready to carry through on any recommendations she would suggest, however difficult.

Meeting with Dr. Barr was like having a frank conversation with a kind and loving friend. Bordering on a therapy session, I found myself telling her of all my troubles and frustrations. My problems with insomnia, energy/fatigue, heaviness, muddy headed thinking, feeling as if I'm always looking through a fog... amongst other things. Within moments she was able to provide some really interesting insight, and give me hope that it's all fixable in some way or another. Everything... from the headaches to the weight gain, she was able to determine that my condition has been worsening for years now.

I know it seems too easy. But some of the things she had to say really resonated with me.

She asked how I was when I was in high school.... was I strong, slim and athletic? Yes, I was. Have I been gaining weight steadily since? Yes. I was 128 lbs when I was 17 and thought I was fat. Did I have lots of energy... sharp focus and drive at school? Yes. Were there headaches and trouble sleeping? No.

I realize I'm not 17 anymore, and that being a teenager has its advantages - the advantage of youth for one. But what I refuse to believe is that in a mere 16 years I have deteriorated so steadily - I'm 33 and my body is acting like it's 53....

The treatment she prescribed will be in stages, starting with a regime to kill off what she believes has been growing in me since high school - candida yeast. Yeast is apparently a chronic problem in North America, feeding on the poor diets of the majority. In my case, she thinks it was more a problem with overuse of antibiotics in my youth, probably aggravated by a poor University student diet. The initial treatment is nothing too drastic, just avoiding sugar in my diet and taking some pills. Ya, just. I wouldn't call cutting sugar out of my diet as 'just', but I'm ready and willing. You'd be surprised by what has sugar in it. Goodbye wine.

In a nutshell, Dr. Barr told me that most of what I thought I knew about my dosha was wrong. That all three doshas are so imbalanced that I can't even see the character type I am supposed to be (pitta). She said that I am still that strong, slim, active person, but all of the imbalances in my body have added up to appear to be a new character type (kapha) - someone that's tired, hard to get motivated, dreamy and heavy.

So for starters, I'll learn to live without sugar in my coffee, I won't have chocolate for awhile, and I'll say goodbye to my crutches - wine and beer. I think I like the image of me healthy better than I like to drink.

So, that's the first step. When the yeast has been corrected, I'll likely follow a more restricted diet. Hard to say what it'll be since I'm so imbalanced, but in all likelihood it will be very little sugar, little to no wheat, little oil, no coffee... I feel lame just writing it. I know that I will feel better doing these things, but it's going to be a huge adjustment. It's amazing how social activities often revolve around the things I'm not supposed to do... guess it's time to find new friends. ;)

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