But the symptoms of candida overgrowth are broad as this opportunistic yeast takes over and causes a host of symptoms such as leaky gut, bloating, abdominal pain, feeling tired, vaginal burning or itching, joint pain, rectal itching, inability to concentrate, headaches, fungus infections of the skin or nails, brain fog, oral thrush and strong sugar or refined carbohydrate cravings.
Getting rid of candida requires more work than just a short term “candida cleanse” to kill off the candida. Getting rid of candida for good requires a commitment to a long term diet plan that works for you along with initial supplements to help knock down candida, but candida will return and grow if an optimal diet is not maintained as candida is opportunistic and feeds on sugar and refined carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. Diet is key for preventing and keeping candida down and the most crucial foods to avoid on the candida diet is sugar, alcohol, sweetened beverages such as pop, fruit juice and refined carbohydrates which are found everywhere.
It took me 4 months to knock my candida levels down from a 4/6 to a 1/6. After 1 month of cutting all processed sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol from my diet along with using a probiotic and caprylic acid to kill the candida my levels dropped to a 3/6.
When I went in for the retest I was disappointed that my candida levels had only dropped one point after being so strict. That was when I realized that I had to find a way to make this a long term lifestyle so that I could maintain the results I had gotten while continuing to get my candida levels down even further.
I continued to follow a candida diet low in refined carbohydrates and no processed sugar except for my gluten-free eggs benny bun that I would eat on weekends and raw chocolates made with xylitol to curb my sugar cravings. I allowed myself to have a couple of drinks throughout the week but instead of having ciders I drank vodka waters with lime and a tiny splash of cranberry juice.
I also had to switch my mindset and asked the question, how can I enjoy my life now and for the long term while still being healthy and knocking down my candida overgrowth?
Instead of being 100% strict I practiced being 80-90% strict so that I could have a social life and enjoy my summer while hitting my health goals of beating candida.
A candida cleanse or diet can work for the short term but it doesn’t work for the long term if it isn’t maintained especially with candida since candida is always present in our bodies and will get out of balance and overgrow if given the opportunity.
Maintaining low levels of candida can almost be just as challenging since candida will return if someone goes back to their old ways of eating foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates.
I remember telling a friend that I would rather take a year to slowly knock down my candida and maintain it than just do a super strict diet with antimicrobials and antifungals to have candida come back as soon as I stopped the diet and supplements.
I was able to find the perfect balance where I made enough changes to my diet and rotated through different supplements that I was able to get my candida levels down from a 4 out of 6 to a 1/6 in 4 months. I ended up being pleasantly surprised by my results when following the 80/20 rule.
Often we associate having to make healthy changes as stressful or not enjoyable but what is the point of becoming healthier if we can’t enjoy our life at the same time?
And on the flip side how can we enjoy life if we aren’t healthy? Gotta find that balance.
Funny enough, at the same time that I started to make changes to my diet to improve my health and kick my candida overgrowth, I also met my partner that I am still with today. That summer was filled with lots of social activities and nights out drinking my vodka waters.
Seeing my results taught me that I didn’t have to be 100 % perfect to achieve my health goals, so wherever you are at now ask yourself what pace/changes feel comfortable for you and fits into the lifestyle that you want to live. Can you make sacrifices, find substitutes and new healthy recipes that you love?
I eat healthy because I love eating healthy but I also had to get creative and try new recipes so that I enjoyed all the healthy food I was eating.
One of the recipes that saved me from the sugar cravings I experienced when I was kicking my candida were these raw coconut chocolates in which I substituted the honey for xylitol.
Xylitol is an alcohol sugar that doesn’t feed candida and was a crux that I used as I needed something to curb my sugar cravings. A square of raw chocolate made with xylitol got me through my day. For several months I don’t think there was a day when I didn’t have these raw chocolates stocked in my fridge.
The chocolates are also made with coconut oil which has antimicrobial properties that are great for inhibiting candida overgrowth so if you need a crux like I did go ahead and make these raw chocolates but be sure to substitute the honey for xylitol to make them a candida friendly recipe.
At the same time that I took my candida test, I also had a food sensitivity test where I discovered that I was reacting to dairy, soy, kefir, wheat, bananas, corn chips, msg, and processed sugar so I had to make some big changes to my diet.
I was pretty much a vegetarian at the time and had been for years so if I was going to remove all my food sensitivities I was going to need to do a vegan diet but that felt so restricting to me so instead I took a second look at my sensitivity test where I looked at all the foods I could eat.
I was fine with all my vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, beef chicken, fish and thought to myself well at least I can eat all these foods and they are healthy thus I created a candida diet for myself where I removed my food sensitivities and refined carbohydrates such as bread, rice noodles, corn chips, and high sugar fruits.
I still managed to overcome my candida overgrowth while having a berry smoothie every am, lots of vegetables, salads, quinoa as my go-to grain/seed, homemade veggie burgers with no bun, green apples, sprouted buckwheat granola, Thai chicken curry and chose chicken tenders with salad when out at restaurants.
My main focus when on my candida diet was to stop eating refined carbohydrates such as pizza (my favorite food), sandwiches, rice noodles and corn chips which are all essentially sugar that feeds candida and important foods to avoid on the candida diet.
Beating candida taught me how personalized I had to get with a diet that suited me. I also had to take a step back and look at my diet and say what threw me out of balance and allowed candida to overgrow. For me, it was those vegetarian refined carbohydrates that were in my diet.
Family and friends who knew me at the time considered me a very healthy person with a healthy diet and would say but you’re so healthy! Why do you have these problems?
Especially when comparing my diet to the standard American diet but I had my fair share of partying, grew up on a fairy high carb diet with oatmeal for breakfast, lots of sandwiches and pasta along with lots of healthy salads, fruits, vegetables, and meat.
When I first became more health-conscious I removed the gluten but still ate high carb
refined rice noodles which is essentially sugar, so not really any healthier!
Sometimes when we need to adjust and take a look at our diet it can feel overwhelming but trust yourself and your intuition and ask yourself some honest questions.
Is the diet you are eating working for you? What do you need to take away and what can you add in? What foods make you feel good? What foods are problematic? Do you feel bloated after eating high fiber foods or refined carbohydrates? How do you tolerate high histamine foods?
There is no one size fits all diet that will work for everyone…. And if you’re like me back in the day, I was always bloated after all foods which is why I used food sensitivity testing to find out what were the most problematic foods for me. Along with the food sensitivity test came the surprise of high candida levels.
I look back to this time in my life where I made some serious changes to my health for the better and am forever grateful. Changing my diet and overcoming my candida overgrowth had such a huge impact on me that it led me to become a Nutritional Therapy Consultant and down the never-ending rabbit hole of health, genetics, digestion, SIBO, insulin resistance and so much more!