Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 3: Uncle Candida

When I started this project all of five days ago, I jumped right in without a great deal of explanation. Many of you are family and friends (Thank you for the support of my new blog, btw!) and may not have much experience with the gluten-free diet, much less Candida. With gluten-free being a bit of a fad and since the wonderful wizard that is Dr. Oz just covered the subject recently, I'm going to touch on the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) first.

Candida is actually an innocent little bit of flora that exists in everyone's digestive tract. When all is well with a person's system, the Candida is no problem whatsoever. Unfortunately, when the immune system is compromised or the delicate balance of flora has become disturbed by antibiotics or processed food, Candida can get out of control. Think of Candida as your annoying uncle at the family reunion. He has every right to be there, but when your aunt (immune system or good gut bugs) isn't there to keep him in check, things can get ugly fast.

With complete freedom from antibodies and/or competing probiotics, Candida will breach the intestinal wall and take up residence throughout the body. It can be seen as a yellowish or white film on the tongue. It can gum up the joints and clog up the pores in your skin. Candida can also invade the sinuses and other areas and instigate infections.

So, how to throw the disagreeable uncle out of the house? This is where the metaphor ends. Ridding the body of Candida requires starving it to death. Candida thrives on sugar, chemicals and other bacteria. In fact, one way to tell you have a Candida problem is gauging your craving for sugar. Candida will consume any sugar it can get. As a result, the body will look to replace it, sending you to the pantry desperately scavenging for old Halloween candy or digging in the fridge for stale birthday cake from last week...or so I've heard. Not that I've ever done either of those things. Umkay, moving on.

To be clear, you don't have to starve yourself to kill off the Candida, but the food you can have is very restrictive, unless you change your perspective. A great place to reference for details is Whole Approach. Their diet guidelines are clear and easy to follow. You might notice that few sweeteners, fewer fruits and no chocolate are on the OK food list. However, there is an extensive list of vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds and legumes that will nourish you but do nothing to feed the Candida. When was the last time you had a craving for kale and pumpkin seeds? Yeah, me either.

Here in lies the immediate purpose of this blog. I tried for four weeks to follow that Whole Approach list. I did well for a couple of weeks. And, though I did cheat with dairy and cheese after those first two weeks, until the PF Chang Flourless Chocolate Dome fiasco, I didn't touch a grain of sugar or non-OK sweetener for a month. Ironically, I did better with avoiding sugars because I was fixated on replacing all my old sugar addictions with 'legal' substitutes such as carob for chocolate or stevia and yacon for sugar.

Vegetables and legumes, on the other hand, have never been a big part of my diet. I do love lima beans, sweet potatoes and I'll eat my share of salad when it's dripping in dressing, but 'I wouldn't say I've missed it, Bob'. One of my hopes for this project to change that thinking. Replacing a meal or two a day with an ACD-legal* protein shake frees me to focus on getting at least one meal a day right. I'm off to a bit of a shaky start. (No pun intended, promise.) I managed to get in a bowl of spinach on Day 1 and some raw broccoli yesterday. Today, I hit Chipotle with my man and had a burrito bowl with plenty of guacamole and black beans, no cheese or sour cream, thank you very much. Tonight, however, the kids wanted Chik-fil-A and, though we rarely do fast food for dinner, we relented. I had the new grilled chicken nuggets. They were awesome, but the half order of waffle fries did little to further my healthy-vegetable-with-each-meal objective.

And so, the battle continues. I'm starving the Candida and changing my approach to food, again. It's just the latest in my incremental movement toward healthier living. What one improvement are you working toward and how will you get there?

Day 3 Menu:

  • Carob & Almond Butter Arbonne Protein Shake
  • Chipotle Burrito Bowl with brown rice, black beans, carnitas (Oops, should've had chicken!), pico de gallo & guacamole plus bottled water
  • Arbonne Citrus Fizz Tab drink
  • Chik-Fil-A 10 piece Grilled Chicken Nuggets & 1/2 order of Waffle Fries plus bottled water
  • Arbonne Detox Tea

Day 3 State of the Union:

  • Weight has dropped a bit, but, more importantly, my mood and energy are up. I haven't been hungry. I also haven't had any cravings for sweets or treats.
  • Nose is still a bit congested and I had some heartburn last night. Tongue still has the tell tale signs of Candida.
That's it for now. I promise to get better about adding some photos to the blog. All this text is a bit much without pretty pictures. Tomorrow is my oldest baby's thirteenth birthday. Unbelievable. I'll share some baby photos and try not to be too weepy.

Take care-


*Note: A perceptive reader might note that Arbonne's protein shakes contain evaporated cane juice. That's a big no-no on the Anti-Candida Diet. It's also the reason I consider using Arbonne's program to fight Candida an experiment. I'm confident the program will help me change my eating habits for the better. My hypothesis is that the amount of cane juice is minimal enough that I can still starve the Candida. It should also help that I am taking Nystatin, a prescription drug that aids in killing Candida by destroying its cellular walls.

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