16 May 2009

Is a life without cheese a life worth living?

Cousin N told us about this great 한의사 (hanuisa), Doctor of Oriental Medicine, she saw at 새시대 한의원의 in Sinsa-dong (Kangnam). Basically, the doctor is able to determine what sort of diet is best for your body type and personality. I don't know very much about oriental medicine, but when I heard that Cousin N was instructed by the doctor to restrict her diet to meat, carbs, and root vegetables (all things my cousin had been avoiding), my interest was totally piqued. Also, I've had digestive problems in the past and suspect that my diet is a big factor in my skin issues, so I was particulary curious to hear what the doctor would say.

Thus, Seong, Cyndi (Yup. She's ba-ack!), and I headed over to the clinic for an exam. Cousin N had told us that the clinic is pretty famous. From the looks of the packed waiting room, the doctors there must be doing something right. Our appointment was at 10:00 AM, but we weren't seen until an hour later!

First, the receptionist will have you fill out a questionnaire about your eating habits, digestion, and other relevant information. (The questionnaire is all in Hangul). Next, they'll strap your right pointer finger to a device that measures...something. I'm not sure what. Electromagnewhatchamacalits? Then, they'll take your blood pressure.

Once you get to see the doctor, he'll have you lie down on the chair (Don't worry. There's no funny business), and ask you what ails you. Then, with two fingers, he'll measure the pulse(?) at each of your wrists. Lastly, he'll apply chim (acupuncture) to your legs and arm. After all that, he'll make some notes on his chart and tell you what you can or cannot eat.

Seong went first, and her examine seemed quite brief. After measuring the pulse(?) at each wrists, he pricked her right leg and arm. Then, he announced that the foods she should NOT eat. He mentioned a few items, including spicy food and chicken! Man, that sucks. How do you live in Korea and aovid spicy food and chicken. (I know. It's possible, but not preferable).

When it was Cyndi's turn, the doctor also examined her pulses(?), but this time, he applied the needles to her left leg. The doctor's instructions to Cyndi were quite simple. Absolutely do NOT eat seafood and leafy, green vegetables. I think Cyndi was relieved that soju and gogi weren't on the restricted list.

Last but not least, it was my turn. I think the doctor may have taken twice as long to examine me. Firstly, when he measured my pulses(?) he kept going back and forth to each arm, with a focused expression on his face. Then, when it was time for the needles, he pricked both legs, both arms, AND my fingers. When I had asked Seong & Cyndi if the needles hurt, they had said that it was just slightly more uncomfortable than a tickle. I'm not sure what kind of needles the doctor used on them, but the needles he used on me hurt! Either I'm huge wimp or I'm really unhealthy. Either way, it wasn't a good sign.

Then it came time for his diagnosis. Here's is how the conversation (translated into English, with some assistance from Seong and Cyndi) esentially went.

Doctor: You're [you're diet] is kind of...picky.

Anna: (inward groan)

Doctor: You may not eat flour.

Anna: (Loud gasp)

Doctor: You may NOT eat meat. ANY kind of meat.

Anna: (I flail myself onto the chair and moan in despair.) Can you ask him if SPAM counts as meat?

CYNDI: He says you can't eat SPAM.

Anna: ...

Doctor: You may eat egg whites, but you can't eat egg yolks.

Anna: Ahhhhhh! (What am I supposed to eat for breakfast?)

Doctor: You can't eat any dairy products.

Anna: You mean cheese and yogurt too? @!#$%!

Doctor: You may not eat root vegetables.

Anna: No problem --- Wait! You mean I can't eat kkakdugi and mu!!!!!!!! What about potatoes?

Doctor: You should eat potato in moderation.

Anna: :(

Doctor: You must also avoid all fried foods.

Anna: Waaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!

Doctor: If you use oil, stick with olive oil.

Anna: (Slumped over the chair in defeat)

So, let's recap. 1) I can be a bit melodramatic. 2) According to the doctor, for the next week or so, I should stick to eating seafood, vegetables, and rice, and basically avoid all other food groups.

This is not going to be easy, people.
I know what you're thinking. Why are you listening to the doctor?
The answer is: because I'm curious.

I've never thought about what I ate, and have never restricted myself when it comes to food. I see this as an interesting challenge.

Also, the doctor just wants us to try our assigned diet for the next week, then come back and see him for a follow-up. This is when he will re-examine us, as well as get our feedback on how we feel.

I'm determined to stick to this diet out for a week, and see what happens. So far, I've been good. I had seafood pho for lunch and fish and rice for dinner. One of the mother's even bought us cupcakes for teacher's day, but I resisted! I'm so impressed with myself.

If you're interested in checking out this clinic for yourself, here are the deets. (Please note that you need to speak Korean or go with someone who speaks Korean.)

Saesidae Oriental Medicine Clinic
ANC Building (4th Floor)
Get off at the Sinsa bus stop.
The building is located between Kia Motors and Woori Bank.


Hatt-Me said...

berry eeentuhruwesting!
keep our safe (for now) tummies posted...

Anonymous said...

its AMAZING they can tell you what diet is good for u without a blood test... and wow thats tough - NO flour??... so no bread, pasta, pastries, cakes, pancakes... etc. GOOD luck! well at least u can eat rice, so i guess rice noodles is ok too. hmmmm... yes please keep us posted.

Ying said...


read about your posts on chejil and would like to check it out when i'm in seoul. May i know if there are any engligh speaking hanuisas around?
And how much does it cost to get a check up?