In the spring of 2011 I was at my wits end. For almost a year I had struggled with recurrent yeast infections (candida). I think I had one every single month for an entire year. Yeast is gross; really, really gross. I like my gynecologist but I did not like that she kept prescribing an oral anti-fungal for me month after month.
Growing up, my mother worked part-time at a health food store and I knew there had to be a natural way to treat yeast. One particularly miserable/desperate day I made my way to my local health food store. I found a helpful employee in the supplement section of the store who listened patiently to my tale of woe and asked me if I was willing to radically change my diet to eliminate the yeast (candida) from my body. I told her yes! Sign. Me. Up.
She told me I’d have to literally starve the yeast in my body by eliminating the foods that feed it. I eliminated:
Sugar – Yeast thrives on sugar so EVERY single form of it had to go, including artificial sweeteners. Even though artificial sweeteners are not sugar, your body recognizes them as such. Stevia was the only form of sweetener I could have.
Dairy – The sugar in dairy is lactose and it feeds yeast as well.
Fruit – I eliminated fruit for about three weeks and then began to gradually add low-sugar fruit in limited quantities.
Grains – Whole grains are not necessarily bad for you but they feed yeast so I eliminated all but brown rice. I could also have quinoa also but quinoa is technically a seed and not a grain.
Fermented foods – I said goodbye to vinegar, achohol, and most condiments/salad dressings.
Starchy Veggies/Legumes – I’m not sure they’re really “veggies” but potatoes, beans, peas all feed yeast so they were eliminated.
Caffeine – Caffeine makes the pH level in the body more acidic and yeast thrives in an acidic environment so I gave up coffee and diet soda and literally had a headache for about seven days. It was miserable.
I’m not going to lie. Eliminating all of those things all at once was horrible. The first few days of my “detox” (it really is a detox of sorts) were weekend days so I took it easy. After about a week I started feeling better. After about two weeks I started feeling GREAT. I had more energy than I’d ever had. I started sleeping better. I also lost some weight.
I began to make the connection between what I put in my body and how it made me feel. For the first time, I began to pay attention to what I was eating and to really care about nutrition. This was much more than just reading food labels. I focused on eating whole foods–foods that weren’t processed and full of chemicals. I’m talking about food that is actually FOOD and not just something that resembles food.
The amazing thing? I lost about 20lbs in a little over three months and have kept it off. I’ve had one yeast infection in three years. When I felt that one infection coming on, I immediately cleaned up my diet and it went away within a day or two. Not only have my infections disappeared but some unexplained aches and pains in my joints also went away as did the the eczema I’ve had since I was a child. That made sense when I later learned eczema is caused by yeast.
So, you might be wondering what I actually ate after eliminating so much from my diet. Stay tuned for Part II: What I Ate To Recover My Health