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Some Personal Sharing: My Detox Experience on the ACD
Recently, a few readers have asked me to detail a bit more about my own experience on the ACD. While I’ve written quite extensively about the diet itself, how difficult it was to follow in the beginning, and where to find information, I haven’t written very much about my own physical symptoms, reactions to the diet, or treatments. Partly, it’s because I can’t imagine that anyone would be interested. Partly, it’s because I am actually a fairly private person, and I wasn’t all that comfortable sharing (I know, you’re thinking, But you tell us all about your
arguments discussions with the HH! And you tell us about how you and your pal Sterlin were total nerds in high school! And you tell us about your resentment of Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants)–what do you MEAN, you’re a “fairly private person”–ha, ha, don’t make me laugh!).
No, I haven’t forgotten the definition of “private”; it’s just that those events are all in the past, so I don’t feel particular bashfulness or emotional protectiveness of them any more. The ACD, on the other hand, is very much with me in the present, and that feels a little. . . revealing.
When I thought about it for half a minute, I realized that, back at the beginning of the process, I would have been elated to find a post about someone else’s experience, just so I’d know I wasn’t alone (and that you can come out of it, intact, at the other end). And what if someone out there is going through the same thing? So, if this post can help even a single person, I’ll feel it was worth revealing (and let’s face it, it’s not as if I’m entering a wet T shirt contest or anything here).
Part I: How to Detox–The Wrong Way
A while back on the Candida FAQ page, Megyn asked: “And are you taking any supplements? I was put on undecenoic acid. The first few days were okay, but then my intestines starting really hurting as well as some other “symptoms of die off”. . . . Is there a place where I can read more about your experiences with this?”
When I was first diagnosed and put on the diet (back in January, 1999), there were at least 20 years (okay, more like 30) of the worst possible eating habits behind me. Mine wasn’t simply a case of following the SAD (Standard American Diet), oh no; more like the S-SAD (Sub-Standard American Diet). Case in point: throughout my undergraduate years living in residence, my weekend menu alternated between birthday cake (which my roomie and I bought from the local supermarket each Friday and would eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and raw chocolate chip cookie dough mix (which we ate the rest of the time). I kid you not.
[At my all-time heaviest weight, Summer 2008. No wonder I'm not really smiling.]
I had decided to go to the Naturopathic College’s clinic to see an Intern there (since her fee was much lower than that of a practising naturopath). In retrospect, I realize that was probably the worst possible way to approach a detox for the first time. The overzealous, neophyte ND prescribed the strictest of diets along with the most potent herbal decoctions available, simultaneously neglecting to prepare me by either easing into dietary changes first or warning me in any way about “die-off,” or a “detox reaction.”
I started detox on a Monday in February. The following evening I had dinner plans with a good friend. “No problem,” he said, when I suggested we eat at the only vegan restaurant I knew at the time, where I could order plain brown rice with steamed veggies. About halfway through the meal, I began to feel a bit queasy. “Hmm. . . probably not the veggies,” I mused. “I must be coming down with the flu.” Within 15 minutes, I was shaking, sweating, feeling downright dizzy and just about ready to vomit. “Um, I think I need to get home,” I apologized, and my friend ushered me to my car.
I’m still not sure how I drove home that evening, concentrating with all my might on the lines on the road,barely visible between the curtain of snow that had begun to fall. I was determined to just make it home without swerving into the shoulder. My head began to pound, I began to see flashing lights (and not from the oncoming cars) and my body trembled from my shoulders down to my fingertips (which were gripping so tightly to the steering wheel that it took a moment to unfurl them at home). Outside, the snow floated down in silent accumulation, and I was petrified I’d have an accident.
When I finally did get home, I so weak that the HH had to help me up the stairs; I have a vague recollection of him pulling off my boots and tucking me into bed, still fully clothed. The next thing I remember, it was morning. The HH brought me a glass of water and was reluctant to leave for work. By the time he returned, I was feeling better; the room had stopped spinning and the nausea was leaving.
Was it a strange, 48-hour flu? No. Was it something I ate? In a way, yes: I had experienced a severe–and unusual–detox reaction, also known as a healing crisis, also known as “die-off.” Because of the sudden, harsh change in my diet combined with powerful herbal remedies, I had begun to detox too quickly; with all the accumulated toxins in my body suddenly ducking for cover and high-tailing it out of there, my system wasn’t able to cope–and I felt sick. Really sick.
[What a difference 18 months makes: at my lowest post-ACD weight, February 2010--so much healthier!]
Part II: How to Detox–The Right Way
For most people, detox isn’t that dramatic. They may feel slightly under the weather, or experience flu-like muscle weakness for a day or two; then it passes, and they feel incredible for the rest of the detox. In my case, because I had not been correctly prepared for the change in diet and the additional supplements, and because my body had built up so many awful toxins over so many years, it became a worst case scenario. That’s not how you want to do it.
In fact, when I returned to the ACD again in 2009, my detox reaction was so minimal that I don’t even remember it today. Of course, there had been much less time for toxins to build up (I’d been eating a whole foods, healthy, sugar-free and vegan diet for over 10 years by then, minus the four months I fell off the wagon). And, more importantly, I eased myself into it properly, taking a week or two before I switched to the stricter ACD itself.
Part III: I’m About to Do it All Again!
Even though I haven’t veered from the ACD since I started it, I’ve been feeling recently that it’s time to go through another detox.
A while back, I wrote about the weight beginning to creep up once more. And in recent months since my Dad’s heart attack, I’ve been experiencing a whole host of stressors that have triggered my sugar cravings. Now, don’t worry–as I said, I haven’t actually eaten the Dreaded White Crystals Of Death, but I sure do crave sweets. And it’s possible to overdo it, even if your cake, cookies, or chocolate are sweetened with coconut sugar, yacon, agave or stevia (trust me on this one).
[September, 2010, after 1-1/2 years on the ACD).]
So when Nutritionist and Holistic Health Counselor Andrea Nakayama asked if I’d like to work with her to create a sugar detox program, I jumped at the chance. As it turned out, Andrea and I had an instant rapport from that first telephone conversation and immediately decided to work together. Not only do I think Andrea is an amazing nutritionist–I mean, this woman really, really knows her stuff–she also exhibits the kind of personal empathy and professional integrity that I admire and to which I aspire. And, she’s loads of fun, to boot! Immediately, I had a selfish thought: “hey, I can work through the program myself while it’s being offered!” And that, dear readeres, is exactly what I’m going to do.
I’m truly thrilled to be part of Sweet Victory, a two-week homestudy detox program. The course kicks off with a live teleseminar (also available as an audio file you can listen to at any time) and includes an array of course materials, recipes and–my favorite part–two weeks of online support from both of us, via message board! Andrea and I will both be available throughout the entire course to respond to your queries and comments, share experiences and offer feedback. And since I’ll be detoxing, too, I’ll be right there along with all of you!
To read more about the course and what’s involved, check the Sweet Victory page.
I should note that Sweet Victory is not strictly an anti-candida detox; it’s actually for anyone looking to conquer sugar cravings and permanently change their relationship with sugar. I wish I had found something like this before I allowed my sugar addiction to become as bad as it did in 2008–ultimately, leading to my more serious problems with candida. Now that the candida is in check, it’s time to tackle those pesky cravings!
[Last month at my dad's 90th birthday party--time for a little refresher to clear out the cravings once more!]
In the next ACD update, I’ll talk about my candida symptoms and where things stand with them today.
Have you ever undergone a detox? How long was it? What was the experience like for you?
Last Year at this Time: Grilled Vegetable Salad with Fresh Tarragon Dressing (ACD all stages)
Three Years Ago: Zucchini and Pineapple Mini Loaves (not GF; ACD maintenance only)