I Practice What I Preach

I Practice What I Preach

Dr Gauri ROKKAM responds to ThinkWellness360 questionnaire: 

Why and how did you think of becoming a doctor? 

I always wanted to either teach, or treat [read, heal] people. I was not inclined towards modern medicine — this was because of my belief systems during my upbringing. My father is a naturopath and yoga exponent. All else simply happened in my life without much planning. My father thought nutrition [Home Science] would be ideal for me as I was ‘bad’ in maths. When I stood first in my Master’s in Food & Nutrition, it’s my husband who thought I was a PhD ‘material;’ so, I just followed the wisdom of the two men in my life, enjoying and putting my heart and soul into what I did, and now here I am doing both — teaching and helping people to healing themselves as a holistic nutritionist. Add to it, my ‘selfishness’ of doing everything ‘right’ for my children, during their growing up years, and this bids fair to my passionate interest about food and its influence on us — in health and ill-health.

What made you think of, study and specialise in the system of medicine you now practice? 

I felt, while growing up, that my father was, perhaps, old-fashioned and ‘wide of the mark’ with his concepts of food. I wanted to explore it myself; this led me to undergrad and post-grad degrees in Food & Nutrition. I stood first at the University and I found myself absolutely confused about food. This was a paradox, because I’d, so far, thought I knew something, but, gosh, my nutrition textbooks had taught me something different and, at times, this seemed awfully contradictory to what I knew. To highlight a few examples:

  1. Most of us, in India, derive a major percentage of carbs [65 per cent of daily calories was the recommendation when I was studying] with a ‘coached’ need to cut down on them. All we ought to do is consume whole, unrefined carbohydrates in their natural form. This is not emphasised
  2. There’s a frenzied obsession for increased proteins [till this day], although there is no mention of such a need in nature cure. Nature cure goes to the extent of reducing all protein-rich foods
  3. Recommended dietary allowance [RDA] for bottled fats and sugars — this sounds ridiculous. Nature cure disapproves the practice.
  4. Prescriptions for a plethora of medicines and supplements. A pill for every ill — without looking at the ‘causes’ and correcting them
  5. Calorie counting, instead of mindful eating concepts
  6. Coconuts [also, coconut oil] are bad for heart health, as they are full of saturated fats. I was blessed with the opportunity to work on the wonder drupe, a three-in-one-marvel: fruit, nut, and seed. Our research — including a host of other research studies — have debunked the myth and set the record straight.

The list is long.

I deciphered and distilled all of it and more the hard way with a good deal of research on food and understanding their traditional context and knowledge and blending them together to giving a healthy, wholesome platter to my clients. This foray gives me immense pleasure, while practicing it personally and educating people and, in the process, highlighting their simple, yet profound, value to leading a healthy, vibrant, long and active life.

What has been your personal and professional experience as a doctor?  

Personally, it helps me earn my living and support my family. I’m grateful for that. Professionally, I feel blessed with this ‘divine’ job of supporting people in their journey towards optimal health. Every day, I wake up to messages from clients reporting their progress towards health and/or reversing their disease they suffered for years without any tangible, sustainable solution. Their joy, their trust, their good wishes and blessings cannot be equated with money, or gold. I simply feel blessed — this keeps me going.

What unique and special skills you think you have that has made the big difference for your patients?  

My ability to ‘practice it myself before preaching,’ besides using nutrition science as the foundational principle to speak in scientific terms which people can relate to, trust, understand and also blend them with the concepts of yoga philosophy. This helps them to train their mind, no less, to adopt and keep the nature cure philosophy of food as the core, or the fulcrum, for natural therapies. My clients and interns say that I am blessed with the art of convincing and supporting people to adhere to the given prescriptions.

What is your best definition of optimal wellness and why?   

No part of the body should ‘ask’ for our attention, including our mind and emotions. Only when something is wrong, it seeks attention, and this is a blessing [not disease] to help us rectifying it from the inside out, not just the ‘root.’

Your best case?  

It’s one of my earliest cases. I realised all the so-called diseases, from cold to cancer, can be reversed if only the person ‘wills’ to make changes in their food, lifestyle patterns and thoughts, even when modern medicine declares them to be a life-long, or ‘incurable,’ disease. To highlight just one instance: a client called me from a diagnostic centre [It was her second diagnosis, as she did not believe her first reports. This happens with most patients]. She yelled with joy that her test results reported normal blood sugar, blood pressure, blood lipid levels. She’d lost 8kg of weight, all in just two months. There was no looking back. This helped me to trust myself in what I was doing, and getting better with it, every single day.

What appeals to you the most? 

When people take charge of their health and say, “I am willing to make changes for my own good.”

What annoys you the most? 

Indiscipline.

Your favourite book? 

Patanjali Yoga Sutras. I’m amazed at what Maharshi Patanjali wrote in 2nd century BCE. Solutions for everything. There you are: when you follow just one sutra, with 100 per cent focus, it could transform you in mind, body, and spirit.

Your favourite song?  

Most of the bhajans sung at a spiritual centre that I’m associated with.

Your favourite movie? 

The Game Changers; The Great Indian Kitchen.

Your other interests, or hobbies?   

Practicing yoga asanas, pranayama, meditation, cooking, long walks in nature, travelling to places that are a veritable haven for stories to tell, listening to Carnatic music, talks on spirituality — for knowledge about self, but not ‘tagged’ to religion.

Your goal in life? 

My mission is to educate and empower people to make the right choices about food and lifestyle. This, I feel holds the key to help them embrace vibrant health and happiness for themselves and others around the — you’d call it the ‘ripple effect’ that has the wherewithal to transform their world.

Dr GAURI ROKKAM, MSc [Food & Nutrition], PhD [Yoga & Life Sciences],  is a well-known Holistic Nutritionist. She believes that true health needs education, awareness, and a strong will and commitment to change ‘wrong’ habits — not just diets and treatments. She has been working in the wellness space for 28 years, blending the timeless principles of nutrition science, yoga philosophy, and natural hygiene. Her aim is to help clients understand the age-old dictum — that the ability to heal has to come from within, or from the inside out. Her mission is keyed to inform and empower people to making the right choices about food and lifestyle, while enhancing their health and happiness and [re]kindling the ‘ripple effect’ to transforming societal health and wellness — simply, sensibly, and without jargon.

9 thoughts on “I Practice What I Preach

  1. S C Sharada says:

    Well said, Dr Gauri. I know how much you appreciate our commitment and discipline to work on ourselves. This is really because you practice what you preach.

  2. Anitha Shankar says:

    I made the right decision to get in touch with Dr Gauri to correct my lifestyle. The way she makes us understand, ‘Why we do what we do,’ only strengthens our will to prioritise health over everything else. Beautifully summarised!

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