How I survived week one of the anti-candida diet, and other tales
Although I’m well into week two on the anti-candida diet (ACD), I’ve not taken the time to regale all of you with harrowing tales about my first week because it wasn’t really all that bad. Yes, I have to admit that my worst fears didn’t come true.
Now, for all of you who have been on an ACD plan before or are contemplating starting one, let me share one little story with you that might put my current experience with the ACD in perspective.
Nearly 10 years ago, after a few lengthy visits with a naturopath, I was diagnosed with mild candidiasis. I was ordered onto a four-week long candida diet of nothing but baby greens, brown rice, lemon juice, and flaxseed oil. And as much water and peppermint herb tea as I liked.
Yes, that was all I was permitted to eat every single day for four weeks straight. Every meal of every day consisted of the plainest salad imaginable with a pile of plain brown rice. Breakfast? Brown rice and salad. Snack? More brown rice. Dessert? How about some brown rice?
Lemme tell you, brown rice wasn’t something I’d eaten much of before this point, and this introduction did nothing to get me to actually like the stuff. (Eventually, I did come to prefer brown rice, but it did take a while to get over the bad associations.)
Three and a half weeks into the candida diet, I completely broke down. And by breaking down, I mean getting to the point where I was serious about not eating at all if I had to put another forkful of brown rice into my mouth. My mum came home to discover me sitting on the living room floor, surrounded by a pile of vegan cookbooks, crying my eyes out.
So, you can see how embarking on the current ACD plan I’m following is far easier than eating brown rice and baby salad greens for weeks on end.
How did my first week go, then?
The first three days, being over a long weekend, were a breeze. I’d already made a menu for the first week and done some of the shopping, so I was prepared. One blog I found invaluable in helping me plan my menu is Ricki Heller’s Diet, Dessert, and Dogs – she’s vegan and also following an ACD plan, and she’s got a lot of great recipes that have helped inspire my menus. I felt great and noticed a relative lack of candida die-off symptoms, while only occasionally dealing with vague sugar cravings. The food I made was way more tasty and exciting than I expected. (Soon I’ll post pictures of some of the meals we at last week.)
Day four, a Monday, started off fabulously. Although I was up at 5:30 a.m. to make breakfast (something I’ll have to do most of the time, I’ve realised), I felt better than I had in years. I had energy, a clear mind, and great focus. And my memory was back. Other than a very slight headache that came and went and my muscles feeling more easily fatigued than usual, felt really good. So far, obsessing over sugar wasn’t too bad, and the cravings had been mild and mostly ignored by occupying my mind with other thoughts.
Then, day five came along. Although I know the hours between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. can be the worst for my sugar cravings, I wasn’t prepared for the tantrum that took place in my mind. I looked calm and collected on the outside, and inside I felt like Donald Duck having a tantrum for the ages.
Day six was pretty much the same as day five, with a side of PMS that made me want to whine endlessly and hide in bed all day. This was a pretty nasty, tiring day, let me tell ya.
On day seven, I was back to feeling energized. When the afternoon sugar dragon started to bellow and breathe fire, I made sure to busy myself with something else and avoid focusing on the obsessive sugar thoughts.
My candida symptoms? They’re not completely gone, but they’re vastly improved. Here’s some of what’s happened so far:
- I have a lot more energy.
- The mental fog is gone entirely.
- My GERD has nearly disappeared.
- The daily headaches of late have disappeared aside from the very slight withdrawal headache of the first few days of the ACD.
- The debilitating exhaustion is gone.
- I feel more normal, more aware, and more present in any given moment than I have in a very long time.
- My stomach is less bloated to the point that some of my clothes are suddenly fitting better.
I’m mindful of the fact that this is just my experience and that not everyone is as lucky to experience relief from candida symptoms as quickly as I have. And I’m very lucky that my die-off symptoms haven’t been as bad as I’d been anticipating. I’m sure that eating a lot more fresh, whole foods than I did before certainly goes a very long way in feeling better. And lots of water, which my former tea habit had me drinking less of than I should have been.
For those of you now on or considering an ACD plan, I do have some suggestions on how to survive the first week of the diet, as well as recipes, and I’ll be writing more blog posts about these thing soon.
For the time being, if you’re in the midst of adjusting to the new anti-candida eating plan and battling your own sugar dragons, remember that it does get better.
And one quick tip: Get some stevia. I use this kind, though mine comes in a little shaker bottle with a tiny little measuring spoon (it’s not available on the NOW website for some reason). The stevia helps with the sugar cravings so much, especially when it comes to indulging in faux lemonades on sunny summer afternoons.