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Weeks Four and Five, in which I rethink the anti-candida diet

August 1, 2011

Week four of the ACD started out kinda shaky. That is, I neither had time to create a full menu for the week, nor did I have the time to actually go shopping for everything. (Without a car and only my own two hands to carry everything, food shopping can be a challenge sometimes.) And, to be honest, getting up at 5:30 a.m. most mornings to make breakfast from scratch, as well as spending at least an hour and a half in the kitchen in the evenings, was becoming pretty exhausting. So, the eating during week four consisted of a lot of creations made by solely by what I happened to have on hand. It worked out pretty well, actually, though I can’t say I recommend this as a strategy when following a plan like the ACD. However, despite the challenges, I stuck to the plan – no sugar, no yeast, no gluten – and wasn’t actually tempted to stray from it.

I did introduce a plant-based digestive enzyme into the supplements I take, as I had begun to get the feeling that perhaps many of the issues I attribute to candida could be the result of really poor digestion due to weak stomach acid. I don’t really want to get into details much, except to say that I noticed some compelling clues that lead me to believe weak digestion could be the root cause of several of my health issues.

And I’m sure that my long-held habits of overeating and not chewing my food properly are likely not helping my cause either.

Then week five came along.

For weeks I’d been excitedly anticipating a camping trip with several friends. This trip, planned long before I ever embarked on the ACD, called for food that was easy to store and make and didn’t require a lot of prep time. Since I work full time, making a bunch of ACD-friendly food in advance wasn’t an option for me. (This is especially since I do all the cooking in my home.) In my mind there’s not a lot of options outside of fresh produce for food that’s warming, nourishing, and satisfying to eat on a camping trip that is also ACD-friendly and that I could easily make or purchase.

I did make a menu, but I decided there were a few concessions that needed to be made, such as eating gluten-free English muffins, more fruit than the ACD calls for, and some veggie dogs and veggie bacon that are definitely not gluten- or yeast-free. (Really though, who can go camping a turn down a freshly browned veggie dog straight from the campfire? Not me!) Ultimately, though, my resolve to stick to the ACD as much as I could crumbled when I started to see how difficult it was for me to go camping and still maintain the eating plan. So, I decided to allow myself to eat what I liked, in moderation, and that once I got back home I would jump right back into the ACD plan.

Well, my camping trip ended up in me eating a lot more cookies, chips, and other foods that I hadn’t ever intended to eat. (This was begun by having to test one of these cookies from a batch I’d promised to make for my friends.) And I’ve come to a few realizations that have helped me decide that perhaps the ACD plan is not the direction I need to be headed in.

Here’s the thing – when I tested that cookie, I didn’t enjoy it at all. After four weeks without any sugar, I found the sweetness of the cookies to be overwhelming. But I gobbled down many other cookies and sweet things during the weekend. And I know I wasn’t eating them because I truly wanted them. I understand now, more than ever, that my control issues with sugar don’t necessarily stem from yeasties somewhere down in my gut, demanding to be fed sugar. My issues with sugar stem from other more addiction-related mental health issues that I’d rather not get into here.

During the first four weeks of the plan I included a few things in my diet that I decided were okay for me to have, such as unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, tofu, soy milk, rice, quinoa, and amaranth. I also continued to take a B12 supplement that contained a sugar derivative, as well as an alcohol-based homeopathic thyroid treatment. And none of the symptoms I’ve been attributing to ACD returned. In fact, all of my symptoms disappeared within the first 4 to 5 days and my withdrawal symptoms were so minimal they were almost unnoticeable. My acid reflux/GERD improved vastly, although I still wasn’t digesting my food properly. All but one of my symptoms disappeared and have not come back. That one symptom, which has always remained, is directly attributed to weak stomach acid.

Weak stomach acid = acid reflux = poorly digested food = a potential for multiple health issues. And this is especially true if, like I tend to do, too much of the wrong foods are eaten too much of the time, and they’re not chewed properly.

If I do have a problem with candida, it may  not be the root cause of my health concerns. Instead, perhaps weak digestion could be the root cause of many things, including any possible candida issues I could have.

For many other people, I do believe that they could have genuine health concerns with candida that do lead to some very real, very debilitating symptoms. For me, however, I’m not so sure anymore that candida is a main health issue or even an issue at all. Perhaps my issues stem from poor nutrition by way of unhealthy foods and food in general not being digested properly. While this doesn’t mean I’ll be jumping back into drinking coffee and tea, loads of yeasted things, or anything else I desire, it does mean that I won’t be nearly as restrictive with what I include in my diet. I now know what foods help me to feel more healthy and what foods should be kept to a minimum.

Being more responsible and eating a more healthful diet instead of falling back on prepackaged foods and lots of wheat and sugar really seems to be the answer for me. Eating much smaller portions and chewing my food well also seem to be good starting point for the next road ahead of me.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2011 7:00 pm

    I hope you do find out what’s at the root of your symptoms! Sugar addiction is often caused by candida, but certainly not exclusively. And clearing up digestive issues can remove a host of problems. The ACD is really hard, and even more than 2 years into it, I still have many challenges. Hope the new approach works out for you!

  2. April 17, 2012 11:43 am

    Try reading the book Breaking the Food Seduction by Dr. Neal Barnard. I’m working on a sugar addiction too (although I prefer my sugar with a load of fat, preferably butter). Dr. Barnard has some good ideas and hard core research.

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