If you read my About Me post you would have an insight about my story, but I wanted to dive a little deeper and give you a little recap of how I handled Candida.
After flying back to South Africa, meeting with a holistic doctor and finding out that I had candida I hit a new low, especially knowing I needed to immediately go on a strict gluten, dairy and sugar free diet for about three months. Now if that doesn’t sound like fun to you I don’t know what will.
Coming off sugar was not the most pleasant experience. In all reality I cried more than I would like to admit and had withdrawal symptoms that included fatigue, headaches, irritability, and mood swings. All I can say is my husband and his family saw me at one of my worst times and thankfully, they still love me.
Now there were a lot of negatives with diving into the candida diet, but by the time the three months were over I realized how sick I actually felt before venturing into the diet. Not only was I feeling healthier than ever, I managed to avoid getting sick, my stomach stopped hurting after each meal and I was feeling significantly more energetic.
Now to take a step back, how the heck did I go gluten, dairy and sugar free?
I approached this change in diet with resistance because I definitely ate more fruit and carbs than allowed, but I made up for it in other ways. I tried to avoid all foods with added sugars unless it was from sources of fruit or vegetables. Because of this change I began to eat more flavorful foods such as garlic, onion, herbs, salt and pepper. These foods helped to liven up dishes that usually required some type of sauce or other add-in. I also switched from having breads and pastas for the main carb to sweet potatoes, millet, and quinoa. This was one of the hardest things because of the nature of the diet you’re not supposed to have a lot of carbs because they turn into sugars and yeast thrives on sugar. So even though it is what I craved I had to avoid them or enjoy them in moderation. This was the same for fruit, and since I am a smoothie lover it was a tough one to transition.
So what did I eat exactly? Well definitely repeated a LOT of the same meals since my options were sparse, but I definitely made the most of things and ended up really enjoying the meals I concocted.
· GLUTEN FREE OATMEAL: This is where I broke the rules a bit when it came to holding back on carbs. I would make gluten free oats with cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract, blueberries and almond butter for good measure. If you haven’t tried this combination yet, please do because it’s heaven in a bowl.
· SMOOTHIE: It was extremely hard making smoothies unless I used banana’s so if I was feeling daring I would throw in half a banana with 1/4th cup blueberries, almond milk, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and ice!
· EGGS AND VEGTABLES: Lunch usually always consisted two eggs and any vegetables I had available sautéed in coconut oil. This would usually be paired with a bit of quinoa or millet and topped off with avocado.
· SALADS: Another option I began to love were huge salads with loads of different greens. This gave me the option to explore some different veggies such as sprouts, cabbage, kale, arugula, and fresh herbs. I would usually always have some type of protein such as chicken or eggs and top everything with a happy helping of mashed avocado. By mashing the avocado it posed as a dressing so that I wouldn’t have to worry about any ingredients I wasn’t too sure of.
· SWEET POTATOES: I would always cook a few sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week and have one every night at dinner.
· MEAT: I always made sure to have a healthy source of protein whether it be eggs, fish, chicken etc.
· FATS: Having a healthy source of fat was extremely important in keeping me full and satisfied without feeling like I was missing out. My favorite Fats were avocado, tahini, and egg yolks.
· CROCK POT MEALS: Because I could know everything that was being put in my food if it was prepared at home I ate quite a few crock pot meals. It is extremely easy to make recipes like chili, curry, soups, stews, etc. fit whatever dietary needs you have!
· APPLES: They made the perfect snack because not only were they low in sugar, they are also loaded with fiber and water which helps keep you full and hydrated!
· HUMMUS & VEGTABLES: This is an excellent way to up your veggie intake while pairing it with hummus which can easily be made at home!
· NUTS & SEEDS: This is by far my favorite snack, but I easily overdo it and still have a hard time. I try to limit my consumption to 1 serving and usually pair it with fruit or coconut yogurt
· TEA: Spending time in South Africa helped me to appreciate the joy of drinking tea. Specifically rooibos which is extremely high in antioxidants and also aids in digestion. Another favorite is throat coat by Traditional Medicines which is one my sister and I bonded over for several nights while I lived with her and her family.
THE BAD HABITS
Though the diet was extremely successful in curing my Candida, I had formed a few bad habits that needed to be worked on.
· My addiction to sugary foods was replaced with salt. I was probably using three times the amount of a normal person because I was missing out on a lot of extra condiments for foods that you normally don’t think twice about. Overall I was able to bring this back to normal, so this one wasn’t as bad.
· Since I wasn’t allowed any desserts I would add cocoa powder to just about anything I could think of, and once I went off the diet and was able to have natural sugars again the intake of homemade chocolate syrup increased. To this very day I always have a 5lb bag of cocoa powder in stock and make everything from chocolate syrup to chocolate matcha lattes. Most days I can keep the amounts at bay, but then there are the days when all I eat seems to be chocolate. This is basically my own personal version of having that Halloween candy lying around and somehow the whole bag is eaten in a day. It might not be a snickers, but trust me too much of anything is not ideal.
· The other bad habit is the obsession with healthy foods and the worry that something will make me sick. This is not to say that I shouldn’t be mindful of what I eat but there are times when worry takes over and I end up depriving myself of the foods I love for the sake of keeping myself “healthy”. I have to remind myself that I can splurge on a gluten free tater tots, it won’t kill me, and it won’t make me sick because otherwise I do take care of myself. When It comes to this problem I always try to remind myself that the sometimes it’s the stress that causes more harm than the food.
· I made a full recovery and know how to care for my gut as well as uncover other problems that needed to be addressed that I would have not noticed until I was worse off.
· The amount that I have learned from Candida about myself and the way my body works amazes me, and I know I wouldn’t be where I am today in my health and wellness journey without it.
· Having Candida helped me to take a step back and de-stress. Even tough changing my diet was one big stressful event, my holistic doctor helped me to understand that when your body is stressed out it can do just as much harm as going off the diet.
Overall I am grateful for the experience in that it has brought me to this point where I can hopefully help you through whatever health issues you might be facing.