Foreword: This post could almost be two separate posts. I chose to put together though my latest on my experience with the Candida Diet and some pertinent lessons I learned as they really complement each other quite well. So please read through and see how it all comes together.
The Candida Diet Has Come to an End
I broke up with the Candida Diet after almost 4 months together. I was quite simply, OVER IT!
Why was I on it to begin with, you ask? Here is why: https://www.digyourdeepest.com/gut-health-time-to-get-my-shit-in-order/
For other people who perhaps enjoy cooking and can get more creative with recipes, or perhaps those who eat meat, they likely would have had a somewhat easier time with it than me. I though do not need eat meat and can only eat fish and shrimp so many times in the same week. I also truly do not like cooking and after maybe 3 weeks of doing some serious food prepping, I got very lazy and very basic with my “cooking”.
Having said though, I am calling BULL SHIT on anyone who ever says they LOVE the Candida Diet. Seriously it needs to be renamed the “No Joy Diet”.
I should mention, I am someone who can typically eat the same stuff for years without getting bored. So for me to be truly bored of this regimen says A LOT. Remember, I don’t like cooking and lose inspiration really freaking quickly.
The Candida Diet is quite possibly the most restrictive diet I have ever heard of, at least in my experience. And while it does serve a purpose (to get rid of candida) it is a challenge to sustain.
My ORIGINAL plan was to take the poop test again to see what I got rid of and continue on the diet if needed. But after totally taking a cheat DAY for my birthday in August, I had a change of plans.
I Needed a Day Off
I really really REALLY mentally needed a day off this godforsaken diet. I was getting close to losing my sanity. With my birthday coming up, I wanted to enjoy it to the fullest, even if it meant it would set me back a bit gut health wise. I felt like it was worth it (which sounds contradictory to the fact I also wanted to be totally done with the Candida Diet).
So let’s just have a rundown of the damage I did do on my birthday. I started the festivities with my absolute favorite breakfast burrito from https://www.senorgs.com/ . It was a spinach wrap filled with pure goodness: eggs, black beans, hash browns, salsa and guacamole. (Remember, I had not had hash browns or even beans, definitely not a wrap with any trace of gluten, in MONTHS).
I then carried on at https://www.bacaripdr.com/ for pitchers of mimosas and sangria (with friends, I did not consume that solo!). So that is a lot of orange juice (haven’t had any fruit besides blueberries or strawberries in months), alcohol and sugar. Big no-no’s on the Candida Diet.
And what’s an Anti-Candida diet without pasta? We capped off the day with some penne and marinara at https://salernobeach.com/
I was home by probably 7:30 pm (I’m old, guys) and struggled to stay awake till about 9 pm. I wasn’t drunk but I was definitely in a serious food/drinking coma like state.
Ok, so the next day I woke up as usual around 6:30. I had breakfast and went back to sleep because I was beyond tired. I woke up for a second time later that morning at 9:00. (Thankfully I didn’t have any clients scheduled till later that evening).
I felt like a train wreck. I had zero energy and barely got off my couch the whole morning. I did schedule myself to workout as usual at 12:30. It took every ounce of my being though to get to CrossFit. And when I got there, I may as well have been hungover. I felt awful. I have no idea how I got through the workout nor do I remember what it was. I just know I hated life every minute I was there.
I felt more or less back to normal the following day but I will tell you this. I do not care to feel like the birthday-day-after ever again.
I can’t say for sure if it was the sugar or the gluten, or whatever else I inhaled the day before, that fucked me up the most because I had such large quantities. I do know from the poop test I had taken I have sensitivity to gluten. Sugar just also exacerbates candida and generally speaking can cause fatigue; so no wonder I had not felt that shitty during the time I had been on the diet. There is something to be said for not having those foods.
And looking back to life before the No Joy Diet, I can admit I had a lot of days feeling inexplicably zapped. I don’t feel like that anymore (well besides when I have PMS because that’s just a whole other animal).
I realized that if I can eliminate, or at least severely limit, gluten and sugar, I overall feel pretty damn great. Because I did that more or less for over 3 months.
A few weeks after my birthday, I was ending my latest supplement routine and called my dietitian (who happens to be my sister) and asked her how much longer I need to do this. I pretty much told her I am done and I no longer care what is growing or festering in my gut. It can stay there for all I care because I am over all of this.
I also did not want to retest because if it did come back that I still have candida, I truthfully had no intention to carry on with this diet. So why know something if I am not going to do anything to change it?
And to be fair, I’m not discrediting the methods at all as they have been very successful for many people and even for me. I just feel like I gave my best effort and want to get on with my life.
Over the last week or two, I have reincorporated foods I had eliminated for the diet (minus gluten or sugar) but in a way that fits my lifestyle. I still more or less follow the Candida Diet when I eat at home and reserve a less rigid approach to food when I dine out. It just is not realistic for me to continue on that diet 100%. I need more balance in a way that agrees with my body.
Because as much as I am bitching about how I loathed it, I actually did get quite a bit out of it.
- Being on the Candida Diet taught me how to best fuel my body. I thought prior I was doing that but in actuality, I was not. I was not an unhealthy eater for the record but I was giving things to my body it did not want. When I did that, I was getting feedback from my body like a frequently upset stomach, lack of energy and overall fatigue. Who wants to continue to live like that? Certainly not I!
- I WAS a really big snacker. I never felt satiated after I ate and would snack on a lot of “healthy” things but which were high in calories, like nuts or dried fruit. This diet forced me to eat more whole foods. I tend to now maybe eat like a fourth mini-meal during the day that might be partially why I snack less.
- I do not know the “why” behind this but I am generally less hungry than I used to be. I used to eat a smoothie for breakfast and would be hungry an hour and half later. Now, my gluten free oats seem to fill me. There are plenty of days I eat breakfast around 7 am and am fine until I have lunch around 2:00 (after my workout). I may have a snack between that time but it tends to be carrots or gluten free chips/salsa. It is nice that I haven’t been ravenous between meals like I used to be causing me to snack like a fiend.
- Almond butter is like crack. I have not found a way to seriously stop eating it like ice cream and I’m not sure why I haven’t gained weight from it. I suspect though it’s filling me and I snack less on other stuff. I also am open to tips on how to not be addicted to it!
The Biggest Lesson of All
Here is my biggest lesson though in all of this that I really believe is so fundamental as to how a lot of people view food, nutrition and overall health and wellness.
After feeling awful the day after my birthday, it reaffirmed for me that I WANT to eat food that fuels me and do not deplete me.
I workout at a relatively high performance level, and there is no way I could sustain that if I ate the things my body simply does not need or want. It would affect my performance which could lead to my body changing (and not in a good way) which would lead to self-esteem issues and on and on. You get what I am saying.
I also am in a career now that requires me to be ON. How lame would it be if I showed up to client sessions or classes yawning and being cranky because I ate a big fat bowl of pasta before coming? My clients would not stick around for it because my energy would be so low. I likely would have a hard time staying focused if all I was doing was clock watching until I could go home to sleep.
And I bring this up to because it ties into a conversation I have often with clients and friends, and is worth repeating.
Based on my experience as a Trainer, the people who have the most success and longevity are the ones who, like me, want to feel charged and energized ALL THE TIME. Sure, they still may have drinks or indulge in treats but it is not every day. It is something they pick and choose and do on their terms.
Disclaimer: I am going to generalize at the risk of offending some, but I am not able to find another more diplomatic way to say what I need to say. Again, I am generalizing and I know there are exceptions and things in between.
There are two groups of people when it comes to health and fitness. There is the group like what I have been describing that want to make long term changes so they can feel their best today and always. They want everything they do to complement each other and not compete with each other. Meaning, if they are going to bust their asses working out 4 times a week, they do not want to party the night before or eat like shit and have no energy to workout.
And then there is the other group who quite frankly, want to take short cuts to get to where they want to be. They do not want to drink in moderation or give up unhealthy foods. They are the ones who love food and alcohol and seem to value that over how they FEEL. They will compromise having energy, or feel bloated and fluffy, so they can eat and do whatever they want. They may still workout but they likely are not getting any stronger, faster or losing weight.
But they still expect fast results and often are the ones who do fad diets or have ridiculously long periods of intermittent fasting which I could go on and on about how unrealistic it is to go all day without eating leaving a teeny tiny window and not binge. But I won’t. Not today anyways. (And for the record, I am not against Intermittent Fasting. It can be really effective when done right).
The best analogy is like smoking mid-workout. They just do not go together and we all know that without me explaining that further. I have exercise-induced asthma and breathing is hard enough so why would I do something that makes it even harder?
So it’s like that with this group of people. Fitness is hard enough when you are properly fueled and rested. To train when your diet is shit or you partied a few hours before, or just are plain tired is like coming in and smoking. It is just unnecessarily making it harder to reach goals and be healthy.
If I am to leave you with one thing to bring this lengthy post to a close is this. Our bodies are machines and we only each get one. When we value what they do for us and respect them to understand what they need, we generally feel better and are not chasing our tails in circles. We get what we want when we listen to what our bodies want and need.