Just like my last juice fast, candida diets are beginning to feel like old news to me; I battled candida during Lyme for a long time a couple years ago, then had an unexpected bout return this past December. In the last month, it has come back again, which is not surprising now that we’ve found out we may have mold in our bedroom. We’ve had a LOT of health problems since moving across the hall in November, and tomorrow they are opening the offending wall and we will know for sure whether nastiness is growing in a spot under the window that sprang a leak shortly after we moved in. We are, of course, hoping that it IS moldy in there, because if it isn’t, our household has become randomly riddled with really odd ailments, for no apparent reason.
Back to candida– and by candida, I am referring to the kind in your gut, not other areas, just to throw that out there for the record. It’s back, it’s got me STARVING CONSTANTLY, and in turn I have of course put on all the weight I’d lost since the hormone situation (which, if there is mold in the wall, explains why all that got so bad too). While just a month ago I was back to my normal skinny pants, those are again a lost cause. I spent a minute (err, couple weeks) thinking, “Fuck it,” because I knew I had to wait until the wall situation was fully dealt with, and that has involved numerous inspections, tests, etc. I didn’t go crazy and eat yeasted bread or anything, but I had wine close to nightly and what the average person may consider a slightly obscene amount of chocolate. Now that the wall is being handled, it’s time to handle me, too, so I ordered Renew Life Enterprises “CandiGone,” will bust out the Rife machine every few days, and began a joyous standard candida diet. Only, being me and having lofty goals, I decided to also cut out foods that I know I have been consuming way too much of, that are typically allowed. Read: Ace has staged numerous nut-interventions on me lately, and I’ve come to realize that they are just too big a part of my diet. So although the candida diet says they are ok as long as they’re roasted, I’ve decided to cut nuts and seeds out entirely for a short while.
The easiest way, for me, to not feel completely deprived of specific foods, is to remove myself completely from food and do a juice fast. But since I just did that a month or so ago, and since I am STARVING CONSTANTLY, that sounds very not fun right now. Instead, I’ve decided to switch up my normal eating life as much as possible so that I don’t notice what I am missing as badly as I usually would. My tips for a candida cleanse overlap with those for a juice fast, but I think there are several important things that can help you get through any restricted period of time, so I am including them again here.
1. Buy a plethora of snackable green produce. I kid you not, I have eaten an entire head of celery as a snack lately. Candida hunger is like the munchies from smoking pot exaggerated to the millionth degree, only without any laughter or fulfillment. Know that you will still be hungry for awhile, and plan accordingly with things you could eat all day and not have to worry about. My two favorites for this are Persian cucumbers and celery. Broccoli stalks also work.
2. Don’t try to substitute. If you love, say, regular pizza, don’t think you’ll be fooled and satiated instantly by gluten free crust and Daiya cheese and pesto sauce. Forget about pizza for a minute, and try making, say, an Indian food dish you’ve never had but have been curious to try.
3. Since you have added a bunch of new rules, release some of your standard ones. Personally, I am mostly raw and I rarely buy products with ingredients. So for me, buying brown rice cakes (I never buy rice cakes because puffing grains at high temps denatures them and renders them nutritionally void) is a huge treat. What’s in my cabinet right now? Brown rice cakes!! What’s my treat for eating a raw greens salad with probiotic onion dressing for lunch? Brown rice cakes!! I also have roasted seaweed snacks, and So Delicious sugar-free coconut milk and ice cream. (Seaweed and coconut are in the “top ten foods to eat” while getting ridding of candida, btw.) This all helps me to feel like there are tons of “guilty” treats waiting for me, and eases the focus off the fact that I can’t currently have any fruit, chocolate, nuts, wine, etc.
4. Protein- what’s a non-meat eater to do on a diet that usually stresses meat? I am huge on listening to one’s body, and have actually had several times throughout my adulthood where my body said, specifically, “feed me poultry.” I listened, gave it chicken a couple times, and it shut up about that for another couple years. For reasons like that, I eschew labeling myself as anything other than a raw foodist, even though my diet is at least 90-95% plant based and I think I eat a lot more veggies than the average vegan. (I also tried eating liver twice at the recommendation of several different alternative health practitioners, but that didn’t go over well in the slightest, and I plan pretty solidly to never try it again.) On the regular, I consume a small amount of raw dairy in the form of raw cheese, which is, of course, not allowed on a candida diet. To solve this issue, I prefer protein shakes. Currently I have Rainbow Light Protein Energizer, which is brown rice protein with spirulina, greens, and herbs for energy (thanks to the health issues I’ve got lethargy, malaise, and ennui written all over me lately). I wish it was all organic, but at least some of the ingredients are.
5. Make simple things special. Examples of this are having a shake or juice in a fancy glass, mixing a salad in a beautiful bowl, or breaking out nice dinnerware for a regular weeknight meal. You are doing a candida cleanse for YOU, because your body is important and you want to help it rebalance itself. However, the more we focus on what we are missing/can’t have, the more stressed we get, and the worse we in turn make our bodies feel. Reward yourself in every possible way!
Protein shake/faux milkshake with So Delicious sugar-free milk and ice cream, Rainbow Light Protein Energizer, coconut oil, and toffee flavored stevia. I usually add greens to my smoothies, but this was meant to feel/taste like a dessert treat- and it did. =)
Today I passed the miserable, headachy, hungry, bitchy, lightheaded, don’t-even-think-of-trying-to-have-a-rational-conversation-with-me part of my juice fast, and woke up straight on the fast track to a happy day. Sometimes the early, icky part can take people 3-5 days to go through; mine may have been quicker because I’ve done these things many times before, or because I tend to eat, as previously mentioned, like a SugarNaziHealthFoodFreak. In terms of detox, my waking life includes many tasks, supplements, and foods consumed regularly both to keep me healthy and to keep my Lyme in remission. The goal of this cleanse is specifically to get my body to stop being a hormone factory, as I’ve been gaining hormone-specific weight (boobs, thighs, hips) and felt very off for months now, ever since I took a supplement for progesterone prescribed by a naturopath. From what I’ve researched, the best way to get overproducing hormones out of your body is to clean up your liver. And the best way to clean up your liver is to let it take time off from dealing with food digestion and give it lots of nutrients.
Anyway, today I got all happy and stopped being starving and thought about how I’ve done this whole juice fasting thing at least three or four times before, and I decided that that pretty much makes me way more of an expert on this than the average person. So I thought I’d share some of the techniques that get me through the duration of a cleanse.
1. Variety: you NEED variety to stay with a juice fast. Do not drink the same juice combo daily! Change up your veggies, change up your spices, so you don’t get bored. Fresh herbs like parsley and basil are super healthy- and cilantro if you don’t hate it like I do- and their juices are cleansing/detoxifying. For instance, lots of basil, a couple cloves of garlic, and the juice of a lemon or two added to your green juice = Pesto Juice. Far more comforting than you may be thinking, right now, trust me. Also, change up your cups and glasses. It seems silly and trite, but it helps.
2. Tea: almost a subset of variety, tea is very important because not only will it make you more able to drink all the water you need to be drinking in order to flush the icky stuff that’s leaving your organs out of your system, but also because Tea Has Taste. It has all kinds of tastes, depending on what kind of tea it is! It just needs to be herbal or rooibos or gynostemma or any other naturally decaf or made-into-decaf type to be beneficial.
3. Fats: Bodies eventually go into starvation mode when you don’t feed them much, and you want to avoid that. You also want to keep your liver functioning as well as possible, and livers need oil to do so (something I only learned recently). I’m taking krill, borage, and evening primose oils daily, and also putting about two tablespoons of coconut oil total in my teas. This helps with hunger, makes tea taste surprisingly rich, and prevents issues like your hair and skin drying out while you fast.
4. Chew something daily. Within two days of a juice fast, you’ll start to notice that your teeth don’t feel right. You might also notice that the saliva in your mouth is a strange viscosity. This is because mouths were made to chew regularly, and you have upset nature by suddenly halting that practice. Chew something every day, even if it is just an almond or two. You should be getting some kind of fiber, so make that chia or flax as thick as you can rather than diluting it in lots of water nightly, and chew the hell out of it. You’ll thank me later. I had a terrible time after my first Vita-Mix cleanse, when I ate nothing but pureed veggies and superfoods for 14 days. My jaw muscles got so out of practice that it took at least a week before I could eat like a normal person. I don’t recommend gum, partially because I hate gum, and partially because it creates stomach acids in anticipation and the last thing you need to do is give yourself a tummyache.
5. Groceries: avoid the grocery store for at least the first 3-4 days by stocking up on the produce you’ll need to get you through the first days beforehand and getting any other items you or your s.o. will need, THEN begin fasting. Do not just pop into the store a day or two in and think you’ll be ok. You won’t. You will be looking lustfully at a million products you’ve never tried, tried and didn’t like, or, worst yet, really DO care for, and you will want to cry. During my last three day fast in October, I almost had a breakdown over animal crackers. Have I eaten animal crackers since I was like 10 years old? Of course not. I dealt with this by promising myself that if I still wanted them after my fast, I could come buy them. I didn’t. But still, no point in making yourself sad, is there?
6. Free time: take the time you’d normally spend eating (drinking is quick) or cooking (juicing takes time in the morning, then you’re done for the day) and do something for you. Anything from taking a walk to finishing a project you started ages ago will help you feel less deprived.
7. Scheduling: start on a good day, like a Monday. That way, either you do a five day fast if you’re looking for a short one and are ready to socialize on the weekend, or if you’re doing a longer one you’re already feeling good and will be less likely to give in to alcohol and food when out. I’ve gone to bars 10 days in to a juice fast, not drank anything, and still had a good time, because I was feeling so good from the cleanse.
8. Sugar: skip the sugary and starchy veggies, and fruit entirely, at least at first. Carrots, beets, apples, etc., are all good for you, but their juices spike your blood sugar a lot and you will end up with major crashes. If you do want to incorporate these foods, wait until a few days in when your body is steadily burning fat for fuel. If you’re doing a juice fast for weight loss, it’s better to skip them the whole time. If you’re just doing it for general health and rebooting, beet juice is an excellent blood cleanser and can be added without issue later.
9. Oxygen high: it will kick in, and it will be GREAT! It may take a couple days, it may take a whole week- just depends on your body and how much bad stuff it’s full of. The more you’re a bacon and vodka loving donut eater, the longer it’s likely to be, but it will happen. And when it does, it is really lovely. You’re taking in scads of raw nutrients that your body can easily assimilate, and it is gonna make you feel awesome. Pinky swear, it happens every time.