The Diet: Phase 1
If you search the web for a diet to follow that will help you battle Candida (or any other food intolerant illnesses), you will end up with countless versions. For the purpose of this website, and just to make things as simple as possible, I am going to list foods that most diets agree on. This way people can learn about what different diets recommend.
This is a great time to remind you that I am not a doctor, and I strongly suggest you talk with a professional before you start any type of diet. I offer this information for you to broaden your knowledge on the subject and use it as a basis of discussion for you and your health practitioner.
For the starting phase, people should use what is known as an elimination diet. It is called such because you are eliminating all of the foods that promote the growth of Candida Albicans (the bad yeast) while helping you to more clearly identify (and eliminate) other foods that cause irritation and inflammation. The elimination diet should be followed for at least 3 weeks.
Be aware that there still may be foods on this diet that can cause reactions. The reason why there is no perfect diet is because ALL OF US ARE DIFFERENT. For instance, I not only have CRC, I have IBS, so I know that foods which promote gas or are high in starch (like brown rice, potatoes and cabbage) make me bloated. But if you are on the elimination diet, you will have a better idea of which foods you react to.
Here is a list of foods included during the elimination diet. I suggest you read the information below before you rush out to the store. I've also created a shopping list for you to download and print out.
- Oats are on some yes lists, some no lists. It contains gluten, so be careful if you are trying it.
- Since I sometimes react to Brown Rice (starchiness) and Oats, I look for products made with Amaranth or Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa). Later, you may want to experiment with small amounts of arrowroot or tapioca for flours.
Some people can't have ANY grains at the start of the diet. If you want to include them, eat them sparingly.
1) Water (Distilled, spring or mineral)
There are even fights over which water you should drink. As a basic rule, try not to have your water straight out of the tap. If you buy bottled water, try to get something in a glass bottle or a heavy plastic. The reason for this is that some people are sensitive to the chemicals that can leech into the water from its container.
2) Herbal teas (unsweetened and naturally decaffeinated)
If you happen to be especially sensitive to molds, herbal teas may not be good for you. It is suggested to buy "higher quality" from health food stores that go through superior processing techniques.
One type of tea which seems to be getting a lot of attention is Pau D'arco, which is said to aid digestion and possibly fight Candidas.
And finally, a note to any coffee addicts out there:
When I started on this diet, it was "No coffee, ever". Newer publications of the same books I used to read have taken a bit of a different slant on it. Now a couple say "If you must have your coffee, have only one cup per day, and have it black. Grind your own and buy organic". I thought I should include this bit of info for two reasons:
1) Although I think it's a no no for the first 3 weeks at least, if the doctors are saying it might be ok in tiny amounts then I have to put it on this list.
2) And this one gets personal, so forgive me as I speak candidly, but right now the only thing that properly moves my bowels is half a cup of black coffee in the morning. Mind you, I only do this if I am desperate and limit it to 3 times a week.
The fact is, caffeine is bad for people with digestive disorders. Don't interpret the above as "Oh thank goodness I can still have my morning coffee". ESPECIALLY while you are still in the initial stages of the diet. Best to just drink water.
Fish (not scavengers or bottom feeders)
- On a personal note, I have trouble with chicken now and then (organic or not). I haven't been able to figure out why. I know that I am better with less fatty white meat (turkey breast) but it still can be hard. I read once that often chicken are fed with cottonseed which has a high mold content. Perhaps that's why. Just thought I would share.
- Pork is included in some diets. I've read so many things against it that I don't eat it, but again, that's a personal choice.
- Shellfish is also allowed on some diets. I suggest you wait until you are done the elimination section before trying it. Have I mentioned lately that I am not a doctor or a naturopath or a nutritionist? I just know it's one of those iffy foods because of the levels of mercury in them.
- Lunch Meats are a no no. They are processed and often contain nitrates among other things (including gluten, usually found in the spices).
To buy organic or not to buy organic
If you can afford to buy organic meat, do it. Commercial meats are made from animals injected with antibiotics and steroids, not to mention it's hard to know these days what they were fed. You may want to try to get free range products or grass fed. The latter will ensure the animal was not given any grains to eat that you might be highly sensitive to.
If the above options are too expensive or hard to get, but you still want to try and get better quality food, Kosher products may be another avenue to try. Kosher foods are prepared following strict guidelines that determine how animals are to be treated/slaughtered, the cleanliness of the ingredients/environment in regards to the product, and it prohibits the mixture of dairy with any meats.
To read more about Grass Fed Beef and the difference between Natural, Free Range, Organic and Grass Fed Organic, see my blog post on the subject.
Some people react badly after eating eggs. If you are going to eat them, I suggest only buying free range or high omega fat eggs, organic if possible. You should limit the amount you eat; twice a week at most, at least in the early phase.
Myself and others I know find that they can't digest eggs well if they are scrambled. I have no explanation for this, but if I had to guess, it's because 1) you tend to eat more eggs when they are scrambled and 2) perhaps there is some chemical change in the food when scrambled and cooked. So when you are experimenting with foods, take note of how the food was prepared.
- Many diets are promoting Coconut Oil (virgin, organic) because of all the beneficial qualities it has in regards to health, and possibly to the killing of bad bacteria. Of course, there are just as many people screaming that coconut oil is bad because it's a saturated fat.
- Try to get oils that come in dark glass. Store in a cool, dark place. Buy them in smaller bottles so that you use them up before they turn rancid. If, after about two weeks from the time you first opened it, they smell or taste off/bitter, replace with a fresh bottle.
- If you don't use your oils very often, you might consider keeping a small amount in a bottle in the cupboard (for daily use), and the rest in the fridge. Refrigerated olive oil will go cloudy - that's ok. Once it's brought back to room temperature, it will go clear once more.
- Cashews are on the iffy list. Some diets claim they have too much mold. You'll have to make that decision. Sunflower seeds are in the same boat, I assume because many of the shells are broken on them, inviting more yeast and they are often put through some sort of processing.
- Walnuts are also on some lists but not on others.
- All nuts should be raw and unprocessed. The best is to get them in their shell.
- Store raw nuts in the fridge (again, since it's an untreated oil, it's likely to go rancid faster).
- Some people suggest soaking seeds for hours (it varies, but 7-10 is what I hear most often) until they sprout before eating them. This is said to help in the digestive process.
How do you soak nuts?
- Place 4 cups of raw nuts in a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon of Celtic sea salt and cover with filtered water.
- Leave them to soak in a warm place for 6-8 hours.
- Drain off the water. Place nuts on a cookie sheet and dry on low heat in the oven at about 120 degrees fahrenheit. Some nuts may burn at that temperature, so they should be turned often and carefully watched.
- The light in the oven is often enough heat. The door to the oven can be propped open with rolled towels to keep the heat in with the light on at the same time. You do not have to turn the oven on at all.
- The temperature should not go above 150 degrees fahrenheit so that valuable enzymes in the nuts will not be destroyed. With just the oven light for heat they should be fine.
(The above was taken from an article by Bee Wilder of candida support, who referenced the original recommendations in "Nourishing Tradition's: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats", by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig, Ph.D. of the Weston A. Price Foundation, www.westonaprice.org, and an article by Dr. Stephen Byrnes from www.powerhealth.net/nutrition.htm.)
I think this is the hardest list of them all to make, which is why I left it until the end.
If you can afford to buy organic, do it. If not, buy locally grown produce. Locally grown produce is usually treated with less chemicals because they have a shorter distance to travel.
Greens (all kinds, from Bok Choy to Kale)
Herbs (fresh only)
Onions (all kinds, including leeks and chives)
Summer Squash (for example, zucchini)
- Potatoes, sweet or white, are hard to digest. They are very starchy and many people have trouble with them, no matter how much they love to eat them!
- The Nightshade family of veggies (like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and the above-mentioned potatoes) are ones that many people have allergies to. As well, the levels of alkaloids in them are high. This is fine for normal people, but if you are sensitive to foods it could cause adverse affects, including joint pains. Limit them while you are on the diet and see how you react.
- Clean veggies well. Some say to use different types of agents to clean your food like grapefruit seed extract or veggie washes. I highly suggest you ignore people who tell you to clean them in peroxide (and yes, there will be people who suggest it).
At this point, some of you old hats may be saying "Where's the Stevia?".
Not here. Not on the elimination diet. Best not to have anything that is sweet at the start. Besides, some people react to stevia (or what they choose to have WITH their stevia).