Hello diary, I mean, internet. How are you? Good? Mediocre? Feeling like a sack of sad, fatigued potatoes?
If you answered the latter, same, dude. Same.
I’ve always had digestive issues (FUN!). I’ve had IBS and acid reflux since my teenage years. I have sensitivities to various foods which always make meal time a joyous treat. And quite the surprise! Will dinner give me gas pains that have me doubled over in severe agony? Who knows?!? Find out on this week’s episode of ARI’S INTESTINES ARE SUPER WEAK.
Let’s back up. In 2012, I was really sick. Really, really, really sick. Doctors ran tests and couldn’t find anything. I was very petite and kept losing weight. And not on purpose. I was nauseated all day and even the smallest bit of food would make me feel like I was going to die. I’d bloat to the point that I looked six months pregnant.
Basically, I was living in Hell.
I was afraid to have a social life. I felt ill so often, even glimmers of good moments became covered in obsessive thoughts. When will this end? When am I going to get sick again? I had to leave class frequently because I was in pain or feeling like my insides were going to explode in front of everyone. Which isn’t really how you want people to know you. Hey, isn’t that the girl with the guts that exploded?
No one could give us answers. One of my doctors suggested I up the dosage of my anti-depressant. Another said to get started on an antibiotic “just to see.”
Meanwhile, I was withering away. My body was becoming skeletal and desire to live was rapidly declining. Food was no longer enjoyable. I was constantly in pain. And all the while, it felt like the medical community was just trying to convince me this was all in my head.
My mom found a highly recommended naturopath and we gave her a try. I’ll never be the person who thinks you should only rely on homeopathic formulas, but seeing her definitely turned me from a skeptic to someone much more open-minded. And grateful. Incredibly grateful.
Among the severe food sensitivities she discovered I had (gluten! and dairy, which I knew but ignored when I really wanted ice cream), I also tested positive for a major overgrowth of candida albicans. Here’s the thing, candida albicans is totally normal and we all have it! When there’s an okay level of it in the body, it just peacefully hangs in the digestive tract (sometimes other places too!). Candida albicans yeast is a normal part of the gut flora.
The problem comes when these microorganisms multiply too much. She said mine was pretty off the charts. Basically, my digestive tract was ALL screwed up. She put me on a mix of herbal supplements to take that would help kill off the excess AND told me I’d need to follow something called the anti-candida diet for three months.
The diet is no joke. After she told me the foods I couldn’t eat, I gulped a little and asked, “So, um, what’s left?”
Candida thrives on sugar. The easiest way to explain the diet is to say it’s a no sugar (or very, very, very low sugar) diet. This deprives the Candida from growing because you’re essentially eliminating the food it uses and multiplies on.
Foods you can’t eat on the anti-Candida diet:
- Fruits high in sugar like bananas, mangos, grapes
- Wheat products (which is chill since I discovered no more gluten for moi!)
- Processed meats
- Dairy products
- Any artificial sweetener
- Also natural sweeteners like honey
- Alcohol (I mean, duh)
This sounds doable until you start reading ingredients in grocery stores and are horrified that EVERY. GOD. DAMN. THING. HAS. SUGAR. IN. IT. Seriously! It’s eye-opening.
I relied on eating grilled fish, chicken, and veggies. And brown rice when I wanted to splurge. Ooooh. Girl. You deserve it. TREAT YOSELF TO THAT BROWN RICE CAKE.
The first week was the hardest. The sugar cravings kick in and the Candida starts sending messages to your brain that say, “FEED US CARBS RIGHT NOW, YOU FUCKING BITCH.” It suuuucks. But! Good news! If you can get through the first week or two of cravings, the rest is simple. Honestly! Cravings aren’t fun, but if you fight your way past them, they *DRUM ROLL* go away.
After my three months were up, I was allowed to slowly reintroduce some of the foods I had eliminated. What was cool about this was because my system had a chance to chill out, I could immediately tell which foods were triggers and I should keep out of my diet in general.
For some with severe digestive issues, keeping a stricter diet like the anti-Candida diet is something they permanently implement. For others, like me, it was important in knowing what foods were harming my body but not a lifestyle I plan to follow forever. No wine ever? No thanks.
But because I’ve been so sluggish lately, I’m going to do the diet again. Sure, it requires some discipline, but if it makes you feel better, why wouldn’t you do it? If I post this here, I’m forced to stay accountable…right? WELP, let’s see how it goes this time around.
Here’s to good health and happier tummies!