What I’ve learned during my second Candida Diet in two years.
It was finally time
I’m now 24 days into my Candida Diet “reset” — kicking off my candida diet once again, after an 18 month hiatus for pregnancy and my early postpartum months. It wasn’t necessarily my plan, but food aversions, nausea and cravings are INTENSE. Now, after over 18 months of hormone shifts, body changes, and becoming more and more relaxed with my diet, it felt like it was finally time to get back to “reset” and get back to a diet that I know works well for my body.
The biggest reasons I felt the need to do a reset this time included some new things I hadn’t experienced before the first time I started a candida diet two years ago.
- A horribly itchy yeast skin rash under both my armpits
- A recurring canker sore in my mouth
- Feeling sluggish
- Major brain fog/mom brain
- A diet including plenty of refined sugar, grains, coffee, alcohol, and more that I know my body doesn’t really agree with.
- Inability to lose more of the baby weight
During Round One…
I’ll admit, I was pretty hesitant to take this leap and dive in headfirst to a candida diet again. When I did my first round of the diet I was literally at my “rock bottom” after 3+ years of recurring yeast infections, occurring nearly every month. Once I started, I was HARDCORE about the diet — I did the full amount of time suggested for each phase of my cleanse & diet, and I continued the diet far beyond the initial 60 day window. (learn more about how I survived the initial candida cleanse). I was newly married and had plenty of time to dedicate to research and cooking most of my meals at home. I feared A LOT of foods — I was so worried that my candida issues would come roaring back if I were to have a handful of berries, a banana, a glass of wine or piece of bread. I did not have ONE sip or bite of anything that fell outside of the diet.
Once I knew about the candida diet and the ways in which different foods affect our gut health, I was armed with info that I felt such a strong urge to share with everyone I could. This sometimes unfortunately led to me commenting on people’s #candidadiet Instagram posts, letting them know if their food choices weren’t actually ‘compliant.’ (I know, what a jerk!) I really thought I was helping others this way, both the people posting and those who might see their posts and be mislead. I’ve learned a lot since those days…
This time, it all feels so different. Now 10 months postpartum after having my first pregnancy, birth and child, I feel forever changed from the person I was two years ago when I started the diet, or even who I was just 10 months ago. I struggle to find the time to shop for groceries, meal prep or cook nutritious meals at home these days, among the piles of never-ending laundry, serious lack of sleep, a full-time job, IIN schoolwork and launching my coaching career (Am I an insane person for trying to do all of this?! Yes. The answer is yes.). Oh yeah, and I’m a MOM now, too, spending as much time as I can playing, feeding, wrestling, entertaining and diaper changing a 10 month old, plus so much more. I’m also still nursing my girl exclusively (meaning no formula or other form of milk, but she IS eating solid foods in addition to the milk now).
So not only was I feeling like I had no time and or energy to do the diet “right” this time around, I was also really nervous about how it would affect my milk supply. This kept me from trying it for months. Finally I decided something needed to change, I hit a new “rock bottom” with these new symptoms which made it clear my body was screaming at me to listen to it and make some changes. I decided to take a leap of faith, and to “trust my gut” that I would know what was right for me this time around.
What’s surprised me this time
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that I felt much less stressed, sad or overwhelmed at the start of this diet. I definitely have had a few moments of feeling like “there’s nothing I can eat!” but I have the tools, knowledge and experience now to know that that is simply not true, which has helped me a lot with meal prepping and feeling like I CAN DO THIS. My very own candida diet checklist & Candida Diet Survival Guide have even helped me as I’ve worked my way through this new phase!
This time I’m surprised and also impressed with the amount of grace I’ve been able to show myself throughout this process. I know I cannot do as intense of a candida diet as I did last time while I’m breastfeeding and operating on very little sleep. I only did 2 days of a candida “cleanse” rather than 5-7 (mostly steamed veg, eggs, broths/liquids). Unfortunately, just like I was worried about, my milk supply actually DID drop after a few days, and I also became VERY faint and weak during the cleanse. I quickly stopped the cleanse and added in healthy foods that I knew would support my body (quinoa, roasted chicken + lots of roasted veggies – even some starchy ones like sweet potato and butternut squash, which I avoided early on last time). It took a while to build my supply back up, but I’m happy to say that this third week it finally feels like it is back up to where it was before I started my diet reset.
I’ve “slipped” a few times — from that one delicious cookie (yep, it was worth it), to a glass of wine after a long night spent soothing a miserable, teething baby, to small bites of non-compliant food here and there. I think I’ve come to know and trust my body a lot more than I was able to last time and am not living in the same kind of “fear” that I was about a single bite or serving of sugar or glass of wine leading to an immediate yeast infection. Did these aggravate my symptoms and not help in the end? Maybe. But my point is that my mindset around it all has been much healthier this time around. I also have not let myself get derailed if I do slip up a bit. I get right back on with the next meal, continuing on with my diet, building on my progress and not beating myself up or feeling the need to start over. I try in these moments to acknowledge what I had, and to reflect on my personal ‘WHY’ behind the craving. Usually that helps me stay more connected with my body and what it’s telling me.
I’ve allowed myself a few new things this time, too, like matcha. I had cut out caffeine completely last time around for well over 60 days, but I just can’t get away with NO caffeine these days. (I’m ok with that because at least this is a candida friendly swap!). I’ve also included gluten free oat milk in my diet, as I know that it can positively impact my breast milk supply, which is important to me.
I also find that my attitude in relating to others about candida and gut health has changed so much in the last two years. I’m much less of a “know it all” now, understanding that bio individuality is so important to keep in mind. Every body is different and everyone reacts differently to things like refined sugar, fruit, caffeine, nightshades, soy, dairy and more. I know for me, it’s sugar above pretty much all else that triggers a negative response in my body, but for someone else it could be dairy, a banana, tomatoes, or garlic or beans. I notice the change in me now when I see or comment on other people’s posts, when I am asked questions about recommendations, and also when people now comment on my own posts, telling me that I’m doing something “wrong” with the diet. It doesn’t bug me when they do, because I’ve been there too, and know the feeling of finally understanding the immense impact that our food choices have on our symptoms and wanting to make sure to help spread that news far and wide.
Bye Bye yeast…
Now that I’m 3.5 weeks into the new diet reset, I’ve already noticed some major physical and mental changes this time:
- My canker sore which had lingered for weeks disappeared in ONE DAY and hasn’t returned.
- My armpit rashes have significantly improved – both in appearance and itchiness. They’re barely there at this point.
- I feel like I have more energy
- I’ve felt better able to juggle all my responsibilities and a little less forgetful (“mom brain” is still very real thing though)
- I’ve stuck to about 85-90% of a candida diet free of refined sugar, most fruits, dairy, alcohol, grains/gluten, soy, corn and legumes.
- I lost about 10 lbs so far, finally breaking the postpartum plateau that I hit months ago. I’m feeling better and more comfortable in my body overall.
When I started this diet reset, I told myself I’d do a strict cleanse for as many days as my body would allow, followed by 6 strict weeks, similar to what I did two years ago, hoping that this would be a reset to my system – kick my body back into a healthy place. But that’s not exactly how it went down.
Now that I’m here, 2 days of a strict cleanse and 3.5 weeks later, I see that the way I’m handing the diet this time — allowing myself grace, not beating myself up or fearing certain foods, will actually allow me to continue this ‘reset’ on far beyond 6 weeks without much stress or effort. This is the way to really establish a “lifestyle” change. Will I enjoy a glass of wine or bites of dessert on a rare occasion? You bet! But I’ll also be avoiding foods that don’t agree with my body 80+% of the time, too, which makes me feel ok about enjoying those things when I decide to.
What about you?
Have you tried a candida diet? Did you find that it helped your symptoms?
Are you struggling to understand where to start, or feeling overwhelmed at all of the restrictions?
Have you done the diet already but are feeling it’s time for a reset for yourself, too?
I have some resources I made just to help you through this process, too! Sign up to get my FREE Candida Diet Checklist at the bottom of this post. And if you’re looking for a lot more support, info, recipes and tips, check out my Candida Diet Survival Guide — in depth info on WHY we avoid certain foods on the diet and which foods are good for your gut, 9 easy & delicious candida-friendly recipes, info on how to make simple lifestyle changes to support your healing, and ways to troubleshoot two of the biggest challenges you may face. Once you get the guide, let me know how it’s helped you or any other questions you may have!
Thanks for being a partner along this healing journey with me. I love connecting with other people who have walked similar paths!