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It is hard to believe that it was only two months ago that I discovered and promptly dived into the Candida Diet. If you missed those first posts you can see them here, here and here but as an ultra-quick recap; my body (in particular my digestive system) went a bit cray-cray after a 3 year bender of contraceptive pills, antibiotics, anxiety and then pregnancy. My mind was foggy, my gut was unwell and I was overweight and sad.
So, I embarked on a new way of eating. A way that involved probiotics, antifungals, a whole lot of leafy greens and no sugar of any description. Yes, that no-sugar umbrella includes fruit and sweet or starchy vegetables like pumpkin. I have spent years recovering from a full-blown carbohydrate addiction (in my teens I would inject pasta daily) so this was a low blow.
While I first thought that I would be on the diet for a maximum of two months, I now realise that was never going to be the case.
The Results (so far)
This Candida Cleanse has absolutely turned my life around. I finally feel almost normal, like the healthy me of four years ago. Mentally and physically, the improvements have been dramatic.
I have lost 10 kilograms (taking the pregnancy weight loss tally up to 18kgs) and my mind and mood are both clearer. Since that fateful contraceptive pill prescription for Yaz three years ago I was stuck above a certain weight threshold. No matter what I ate (or didn’t) my weight stayed the same. I would exercise daily only to be confronted by that same old figure on the scales. I cannot tell you how hopeless I felt. I started believing that I would never get my old body back. Just a few weeks after starting the cleanse I broke through that threshold and haven’t looked back.
As I have mentioned here before, I have struggled with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) since 2006. In the past year I have managed to all but overcome my panic attacks (another feat I thought near-impossible). However the one thing that persisted was my foggy mind. I had difficulty concentrating and I always felt slightly dopey. Since changing the way I eat and move – POOF! The fog has disappeared and I am a much more in-tune little muffin. My mood is consistently better when I am strict with the diet and my mood-swings have all but disappeared.
So, if you feel that this is a way of eating that may suit you, I could not recommend it more, due to how I feel now. So read up about it here and then keep in mind the candida diet tips I have learnt on my travels..
Em’s Candida Diet Tips
Sugar is in EVERYTHING
We all know it, we hear it every day, but SERIOUSLY. Sugar is in everything that comes in a box, bag or cafe plate. There is no wonder we are trouble! (If you want to really dive into this issue then please get your google machine to I Quit Sugar).
Preparation is Key
Before the diet if I needed to eat on the run I could always grab a piece of fruit or a carrot to snack on. However with those off the menu I sometimes find myself in a low-blood sugar induced frenzy. This makes me hangry (not a typo) and is also one of the triggers for my panic attacks. So, If you want to succeed with Candida then you need to be prepared for every occasion. Getting used to a carbohydrate and sugar-free existence can be a big shock – make it as easy on yourself as possible!
Cook and freeze emergency meals
Keep nuts and seeds in your bag (at all times)
Keep portions of bone broth in your fridge for a quick nutritious hunger hit
- On a Sunday cook up a load of Candida friendly food to keep in your fridge – i’m talking chicken breast, quinoa and activated nuts
Candida Diet = Paleo = Primal Blueprint = Caveman (basically)
I was watching a lecture by health god Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple where he started explaining the principles of the Primal Blueprint. I was shocked and elated to see that this delicious diet he was describing was virtually identical to mine. Not only was it a paradigm shift that made me look at this way for eating better but it also gave me a whole lot of extra google power for healthy friendly recipes. It is also MUCH easier to explain to people what your diet is.
Swap your probiotics
Do not stick to the same brand of probiotics. I will have two months on one brand then I will switch to a completely new one (always choosing good-quality though). You are trying to repopulate your gut flora with a diverse little garden of bacteria – so switching up your probiotics ensures that you are introducing new strands regularly.
Probiotics are the shit, whether you are on the Candida diet or not
Everybody should incorporate probiotics into their lives. Millions of people worldwide are completely oblivious to their very poor gut health. The fact we are currently experiencing a digestive disease epidemic backs up that theory. Our guts control our overall health so looking after it should be a priority for all of us. So in conjunction with a diet and lifestyle that promotes a healthy digestion you should be consuming probiotics daily. This can be done through probiotics in capsule form or you can incorporate natural probiotics into your life. Which brings me to my next point…
Incorporate natural probiotics into your life
Despite being bloody healthy, natural probiotics can be a tasty twist to add to your culinary repertoire. I will be experimenting with these on the blog over the next couple of months but for the moment, why not look into making your own Sauerkraut, Kombucha or Kefir?
You can (somewhat) adapt the diet to suit you
I am going to reintroduce green apples, blueberries and raspberries (at the lower end of the fructose scale) back into my diet. When it was a two month stint I was more than happy to finitely eliminate fruit from my diet but I am nervous to do so for a prolonged amount of time. Fruit is full of sugar and carbohydrate yes, but there is also a lot of goodness in them too. If you are struggling on the diet you can tweak it here and there to fit your life (obviously avoiding the big hitters like gluten and refined-sugar). Your results may not be as dramatic, but you will stick to it a lot longer. This being said, be prepared because…
You could be in it for the long haul!
I was told that for your gut to heal it needs 1 month of treatment per year you have been suffering bad gut health. For example, I have pinpointed my health issues to have started 4 years ago. This means will probably take my gut 4 months to heal. A friend of mine on a similar path has been on the diet for 2 years now and she has had digestive issues all her life.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
As I just mentioned, this new way of eating can be bloody hard to wrangle. If you feel like you have just been pushing shit up hill for too long, you are tired, grumpy and emotional and you just want a goddamn bowl of pasta – have it. Allow yourself to have that break that makes you feel like a normal human being again. As I wrote about here, just because you fall off the horse doesn’t mean that you have lost the race. Just start again tomorrow
Really important note here; enjoy the treat that you eat! Do not eat your one cheat meal with resentment in your mind. It is not good for your soul or your digestion. Stop being hard on yourself and indulge.
Tips for eating out
Far and away the restaurants with the most options are Middle Eastern. Meat cooked with spices rather than sauces and lots of salad and tabouleh – hell yeah. With a few adjustments you can eat at your standard Italian restaurants and Aussie Pubs if they have a salad (no croutons, no dressing, no cheeses). Unfortunately, Chinese, Thai, Indian and Japanese are virtually impossible. Basically, while trying to follow this diet strictly, health food restaurants are your best bet.
Your tastebuds change
When you are eating a strong mind-altering flavour daily you become totally desensitized to it. Please note Exhibit A, B and C – salt, chilli and garlic. And when you have something in large quantities it takes you much more to be satiated by it. Conversely, when you stop consuming something you become super sensitized when you do eat it again. Before the diet, nothing was too sweet for me – butterscotch, caramel and toffee, gimme all you got. I was totally oblivious to the fact that onions, for example, are actually very sweet. Now it’s like I am the born-again christian of Sugarland. Now, when I am craving a sweet hit I am sure a handful of blueberries is going to completely satisfy me.
When you retrain your tastebuds to appreciate simple flavours you basically reprogram yourself for a healthy future. Simple is good.
Where to from here?
While I am thrilled with the results of the diet so far, there is still a way to go. While I was extremely regimented for the first month my resolve waned slightly on the second. Following suite, the way I felt between the first and second month differed enormously. So back to it I go to try to finally get myself back to my glory days of huge energy, clear skin and a focused mind. In a month I will check back here to show you hopefully even bigger results!