Kicking Candida’s Butt Phase 2: The Diet

Click image for source: Vivienne McMaster

Click image for source: Vivienne McMaster

So it is Day 15 of my Candida Cleanse and boy-oh-boy a lot has happened since I last wrote to you on Day 3. In fact so much as happened that I needed to take a little blog siesta just to concentrate on my health. There have been revelations, epiphanies and breakdowns. Jubilation and desperation. Leaps forward and stumbles back.

Where We Left Off…

So in my last post (here) I spelled out exactly what you need to do on the cleansing period. I was warned that in the cleansing period I would experience some pretty nasty detox side-effects (attractively termed ‘Die-Off’). Day 3 came and went and I felt pretty damn smug that I had not experienced anything. However from Day 4 through to the next week I was hit hard. As you may have seen on my Facebook page or Instagram I had a rather puzzling symptom. At 10:30pm on the dot every night I got a massive, itchy rash all over my body. It was red and welted and stung like hell and kept me awake until about 2am which gave me approximately 59 minutes of sleep before my darling daughters’ 3am maddy-hour! You should have seen me that week. I was a delight.

**Thanks to my amazing social media friends for all their support, suggestions and shared horror. Turns out it was all part of the detox and the healthier I got it slowly stopped happening.

But, my fellow Candida sufferers, there was light at the end of the tunnel! On Day 9 I felt AMAZING. I woke up feeling clearer and lighter than I had in a long time. My stomach looked slimmer and I had so much energy. Mood swings stopped, I wasn’t having my 5pm dip where I would feel completely exasperated by the day and my husband and I stopped bickering entirely. To make matters better I lost 4kgs which put me under a weight threshold that I have been stuck above for 3 years. I felt like I had found my answer.

Anyway… back to the diet!

Your Candida recovery comes down to three main elements.

  1. Diet
  2. Probiotics
  3. Antifungals

Even though it is reasonably restrictive the diet is also very, very doable. Rather than listing off exactly what you can’t have… lets focus on all the awesome, nourishing foods that you can!

What to eat!

As with the cleanse period you are only allowed select vegetables of the non-starchy variety – again no carrot, parsnip, pumpkin (squash), sweet potato (yam/kumara), beetroots, peas or potato. If humanly possible source organic produce – you want to help your liver/digestive system as much as possible which means lightening the toxic load where you can. You are also allowed to add in certain meats, fish, non-glutinous grains, probiotic dairy products, nuts, seeds and seasonings. You then must have a heavy dose of probiotics and antifungals throughout the day (more on that later).

Meat

It is essential that you source organic meat. The reason being animals that are grown in conventional meat and dairy industries are fed antibiotics to combat the stress of their living conditions, over-crowding and their unnatural (grain-based) diets. Cows are also fed growth-hormones to keep up an unnatural year-round supply of milk. The bacteria in your gut is already haywire and antibiotics are only going to make it worse. In fact, antibiotics are one of the most common causes of candida overgrowth. It is more expensive but you are investing in your health – not to mention a far more ethical and environmental way of eating. (I will be posting in coming weeks how to balance your money and ethics while consuming meat – I am passionate about animal rights and this new diet as been a struggle. But I have found ways!).

Meat must be unprocessed and whole – this means nothing cured (bacon, salami etc). No pork. No luncheon style deli meats.

Fish

Same goes with fish. You need wild-caught fish as opposed to farmed. Fish are also fed medicated food. (If you haven’t looked into fish farming I sincerely recommend you do – it is eye-opening and jaw-dropping and basically, a little terrifying). Aim for small fish like anchovies, sardines and herring which are lower in the food chain and have therefore have not bioaccumulated as many contaminants. They are also far more sustainable – DOUBLE WIN! If you eat salmon it must be wild caught.

Probiotic Dairy

Proper organic probiotic yoghurt and kefir (a grain that you ferment) are also allowed. The reasons doctors tell you to consume lots of yoghurt when you are on antibiotics is because the live cultures help kill the Candida yeast and balance your system! I have cut dairy completely and have been feeling great for it but lots of people I have spoken to recommend it.

Nuts and seeds

You want to include nuts and seeds that have low mold content. So you are going to focus on almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, flax seed, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and sunflower seeds. Sadly cashews, peanuts and pistachios are off the menu.

Almond milk is allowed too! See my recipe here.

Non-Glutinous Grains

Buckwheat, millet, oat  bran and quinoa are all on the menu.

All these grains are not actually grains, they are grain-like seeds. They are also full of fiber which is essential for keeping that digestive system cranking.

Seasonings, herbs and spices

Woohoo – here is the fun bit. You are allowed SO many yummy flavourings.

  • Coconut oil (virgin, cold-pressed) is encouraged as it is a natural antifungal. I have a teaspoon in my lemon water every morning. I cook with it. I rub it on my body. Actually… interesting story. When I was having my 10:30 rash-athon I rubbed coconut oil over myself and the rash went away. Magic. Powers.
  • Olive, sesame and flax oils are all okay.
  • Cayenne, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, paprika and rosemary all have antifungal properties which means – load ‘em up baby!
  • Apple cider vinegar – as always – is good for you!
  • Coconut aminos are a great alternative if you are a bit soy/tamari obsessed like a certain candida-cleansing blogger that shall remain unnamed.

Sweeteners

Stevia and Xylitol are both natural plant-based sweeteners that are allowed on the cleanse (stevia is great for hot beverages; xylitol for baking).

Personally I choose not to use them. The jury is out on the long term effects of it. There are massive fans (like here) and not (like here) and fence-sitters (like here). You make the call.

Not on the menu

So now that I have told you all the yummy bits you can eat if you do want to see a list of what you can’t then look at this one here. Basically no fruit, sugar of any type, starch, beans, mold containing nuts, processed anything, soda.

Alcohol?

You know that stumble I mentioned in the introduction. Yeah. Day 12. I read somewhere that alcohol is not technically the worst thing in the world for your Candida Cleanse because there is actually very little sugar in alcohol. But basically I think I found an article that facilitated some sort of faux loophole in the diet. I had a dinner party on Friday and one wine turned into many. I had felt on top of the world yet 3 days later I am still feeling the effects – my rash came back, I feel hot and clammy and I am bloated. So from now on I am going to avoid alcohol as much as I can. It does not serve me.

We are humans and not robots. We are making a massive life changes and habits are hard to break. So try as hard as you can and if you fall off then get back on (read how to here). Perfect example of this attitude is this incredibly brave article from Sarah Wilson. Even if you take two steps forward and one step back you are still moving in the right direction!

P.s. Beer is a total no-no (yeast!). Wine has the highest of alcohol sugar contents. Whoops! Best option? Vodka with a little squeeze of citrus.

Probiotics

Your Candida diet without probiotics does not work. The probiotics are essential in your recovery (and in daily candida-free life as well!). They help your digestion and create a healthy balance of your gut flora in your digestive tract.

I have bought a probiotic supplement called Ultrabiotics45 which has 45 million friendly bugs from 9 different probiotic strains. This cost around $50 for 30 pills. For the first 2 weeks I took 2 a day (one with breakfast and one with dinner). This meant that I used the entire bottle in the first fortnight which means the first month is reasonably expensive. But after that you can drop back to 1 a day.

In addition to this I have been consuming natural sources of probiotic like raw sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), probiotic yoghurt and kefir. You can order kefir online here and you can make your own sauerkraut reasonably cheaply at home – here is an awesome recipe.

Antifungals

Antifungals and probiotics are partners in crime. Antifungals kill the yeast and probiotics then build up the good bacteria.  So, in addition to those yummy spicy antifungals mentioned above you may also want to introduce some supplements or other natural sources.

Oil of Oregano

You can get this from most health food stores. It costs around $30 and you can add it to water, drop it under your tongue or add 3 drops to your oil-pulling ritual.

Caprylic Acid

A very common supplement is Caprylic Acid which comes in a capsule however I try and take the wholefood option where possible. Guess what has lots of caprylic acid? Coconut oil! Every morning I have a super-duper fungal killing beverage made up of the juice of ½ a lemon, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, some grated ginger and a sprinkle of turmeric. YUM.

Olive Leaf Extract

I add a teaspoon of this to my green smoothie in the morning. I made a massive mistake by trying to drink it straight the first time. Vile. Approach with caution. I would advise to dilute in smoothie, juice or at least water.

Pau D’arco

Why is it that all superfoods are from South America? Pau D’arco is made from the bark of a very strong tree and I will go on record as saying that it will be the next big thing in the health food world. There are some amazing studies being done on the effect of Pau D’arco  on all sorts of diseases like arthritis and cancer.

I take a supplement that cost $33 from a health food store. Similar to the probiotics I took 2 a day for the first day then 1 a day forward from there. You can also buy it as a tea. You should not take this if you are pregnant, breast-feed or have any sort of blood disorder.

You Ready?

So safe to say that this diet is not for the faint-hearted and that it is a bit of an investment. My husband and I have cringed at the cost of all these new ingredients and supplements. The price has also gone up because where we would usually pad our meals out with a bit of a starchy vegetable we are now literally on protein and green vegetable.  BUT we are both feeling the effects and know that if we just stick at this for a month or two then are lives are going to be entirely different.

In the coming weeks (perhaps months) I will be sharing recipes that I have been creating, tips on how to keep your budget down and ways to curb those cravings that hit you like a freight train at 3pm.

Yeah… you’re ready. Lets do it!!!

 

Kicking Candida’s Butt – The Cleanse Phase

leap-of-faith

It has begun. I am officially on Day Three of my Candida Diet Journey.

Since I wrote my post about my Candida diagnosis (here) I have been flooded with emails. Some readers who are struggling with their own Candida issues, others felt very convinced after reading the symptoms checklist that they had it and then there were those gorgeous, encouraging words from people that had beaten it. Here is a paraphrased email from one gorgeous lady;

I just wanted to extend any support you may want along the way with Candida, its a nasty bitch! I dont mean to make it sound like you are going to war but I really did struggle and get lower within myself before results started to show, I pretty much stopped doing all other things in my life besides the given work and loving my man and our fur babies, social with good friends. Everyone’s story is different. No doctor could tell me anything except I was healthy and it was all in my head. Going to what most of my friends would call a witch doctor aka naturopath was the best thing I ever did in my life. In 3 months I lost 10kgs and my cray cray cleared.

You my electronic friend can totally do this!

A lot of gorgeous women also contact me however feeling completely overwhelmed by all the information and wanting to know my plan of attack. So I have decided to share it with you as I go along. I will be spelling out exactly what I do, how I feel, how much it costs and any tips and tricks I learn along the way.

For me it will be a 2 month process though some people go as long as a year! There are a few stages: preparation, the cleanse, the candida diet and then reintroducing foods (or not). So lets gets started.

The Week Before – Preparation

As soon as I realised what was wrong with my body I wanted it gone immediately. I was ready to tip my honey down the drain the very next day. After some sage advice thought I realised that this is not the sort of eating plan to jump into rashly. This sort of undertaking takes preparation –mentally and in terms of stocking your kitchen.

To set myself up for success I made a vision board and a reminders list. The vision board had pictures of times when I had been happy with my body and how I felt in it, images of how I want to feel and motivations – like my husband and Lucy. I have included it below.

candida Vision board

Then there is my Reminders List which is a list of all the symptoms I no longer want and a few notes I made about how unwell I currently feel. I don’t like to stick these reminders in plain sight as it is negative reinforcement. But I know if I am ever on the verge of cracking I can pull the list out and be reminded of exactly why I am doing this. One to get me motivated, the other to keep me accountable. Check.

You also may need to tell your friends and family for support and to avoid any inconveniences. I have forewarned everyone that I will not be able to come to their house for dinner for the next 2 months unless I bring my own food. This avoids the awkward ‘sorry I can’t eat that’ conversation every time you are going to go over. This being said I am strictly sticking to the 100% organic component of the diet, if you are going to be a bit relaxed a simple dinner of meat/fish and vegetables would be fine. So I guess it depends on how comfortable you are with the invitee. I will also be focusing catch ups around walks and tea houses rather than wine bars. Sigh.

Beyond that I needed to stock my cupboard. Aside from filling the fridge with diet friendly foods there were also strange ingredients to buy that weren’t commonly in my cupboard. I will list them all as the series progresses but for example you need probiotics, antifungals and other kooky bits like Edible Clay (read on!).

Week 1 – The Cleanse

For the first 3 – 10 days you must cleanse your colon. How sexy is this diet by the way? My diet pre-cleanse was free of refined sugars and most packaged foods so I am only doing a 3 day cleanse, however if you have had a diet that was heavy on those sorts of foods you may need to commit to a bit longer. Feel it out and see how you go.

Candida colonies are primarily found in your colon so you need to flush as much of the bacteria out before embarking on a diet that’s sole purpose is to kill it. When Candida bacteria die of suddenly and in large quantities it lets off a lot of by-products (neurotoxins etc) which can leave you feeling pretty poorly. This is called die-off. So you want as much of the bacteria gone before you incorporate antifungals and probiotics to give yourself a bit of a head start on healing.

Diet

Your diet must be made up solely of select raw and steamed vegetables. Nothing starchy must pass thine lips. No carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes (kumara/yam), pumpkins, squashes, parsnip, beetroots or turnips.

You are allowed herbs and spices – in fact a lot of them are natural antifungals. So I have been tarting up my dishes with garlic, ginger, coriander and cinnamon.

While this has been a relatively boring few days of eating it has definitely been bearable. Spices and herbs are my saviours.

For a full list of the vegetables, oil and spices you are allowed to eat see here.

Colon Cleansing Tonic

To flush my system I start every day with a colon cleansing tonic of Bentonite Clay and Pysllium husks. I know it seems strange to eat clay but here is a great article about all the benefits but in short the clay binds to tee toxins in your body and the fibre escorts it from the building.

I ordered the clay online from Australian Healing Clay for around $20 (including delivery) and it arrived within a few days. Here’s how you do it;

  • 2 teaspoons Bentonite Clay
  • 1 tablespoon Pysllium Husks
  • 1 cup water (filtered if possible)
  1. Mix the ingredients and then drink quickly as Pysllium swells in water.
  2. Then drink another glass of water.

Do not drink this before a long journey on public transport as you will need to consult a toilet within the hour. You have been warned. I was on the toilet within 20 minutes.

In the spirit of honesty I will say that I struggled the first time I did this. It does not taste offensive in anyway but for some reason the texture made me feel queasy. This being said I felt exactly the same way about oil-pulling at first and I can do that standing on my head nowadays.

You can have this up to 3 times a day. I also have one in the evening after dinner.

Not sure about that, Mum?

Not sure about that, Mum?

Olive Leaf Extract

Straight after my shake I have a teaspoon of Olive Leaf Extract which is a potent antifungal. You can get it at most health food stores for around $30. It can only be described as pungent and you can mix it with water if you need to.

If you are experiencing die-off symptoms already then omit taking any antifungal during your cleanse. You want to ease yourself into this diet without feeling horrendous. Wait a week – then add it back in and see how you go.

Liver Cleansing Tonic

You colon isn’t the only one working hard. Your liver is processing a hell of a lot too. To support it you can drink this cleansing tonic in the evening. If you have had a Colon Cleansing Shake you must wait one hour before drinking the Liver Cleansing Tonic.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Small chunk of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup water (filtered if possible)
  1. Blend together and drink

This step is optional but is good to do. I added a bit of extra ginger to cut through the taste and make it a bit more palatable.
My Typical Day on the Candida Cleanse

Pre-Breakfast  Colon Cleansing Tonic1 teaspoon Olive Leaf ExtractWarm water with lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar and coconut oil
Breakfast Green Smoothie – kale, silverbeet, cucumber, ginger, mint, filtered water, Spirulina, chlorella
Snack Avocado with tomato and onion and lots of pepper!
Lunch Steamed broccoli and cauliflower with garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander stirred through
Snack Green juice or smoothie (same as above)or Herbal Teaor glass of water with shot of wheatgrass powder
Dinner Steamed broccoli and cabbage with garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander stirred through
Post-Dinner Colon Cleansing TonicHerbal tea1 hour later – Liver Cleansing Tonic

Other Tips

  • Remember you are cleansing… so the number one rule is WATER WATER WATER!
  • Keep up any of your other detoxifying habits for extra effect (or add some in) like oil-pulling and dry body-brushing. I am also spending 15 minutes in the sauna every day but that is a bit of a luxury.
  • Tell yourself every day what an amazing thing you are doing for yourself.

In my next post I will go over the diet and over the coming months I will share my experiences, recipes and revelations as well. You can also follow my journey on Facebook or Instagram or sign up to my newsletter here.

If you think that you may also want to try out the Candida Diet then by all means send me an email and we can hold hands together. It is going to be a long two months but my goodness the results are going to be worth it.

Have you ever made a massive lifestyle change? Was it worth it? Tell me all about it in the comments…