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[Yes, you can eat all of these things on Stage 1 of the diet! Clockwise from upper left: Kale Salad, Fully Loaded; Black Bean Fudge; Grain and Veggie Bowl; Grain-Free Coconut Flour Biscuit; Sweet Potato Wedges with Sweet Almond Sauce; High Protein Snackin’ Orbs. ]
While I’m not big on “year in review” posts on the blog and I don’t believe in new year’s resolutions (though I do set goals every year), I thought it was time for another anti-candida diet update for those of you who’ve been following along this journey with me since March, 2009–and for those of you who are newer to the blog, here’s why I eat the way I do. (Oh, and if you’re here just for the recipe, feel free to skip on down to the bottom of the post and enjoy some anti-candida friendly Nachos Supreme).
FIRST, AN ANTI-CANDIDA UPDATE:
I haven’t shared much about the ACD lately. For many of us, just embarking on the diet is a Herculean task, the first three or so months so challenging that you want to vent and share and question and gain some sort of catharsis just by putting all your frustrations, fears and fury out there. For me, the beginning of the diet was like hearing from an old nemesis who’d moved away for a while and then suddenly thunders back into town, harassing you with phone calls every day and asking for all kinds of favors. You dread hearing from that “friend” again. No wonder I’ve avoided the topic.
Still, now that I’m heading into four years on the diet, I feel as if I’ve established a certain level of stability and imagine that this is the way I will live for the rest of my life. This kind of balance is, in most ways, reassuring and allows me to go about my daily business without having to pay attention to every morsel that passes my lips, and without having to worry too much that I’ll have a reaction to something I eat (though that still does happen, too–see below).
I’ve developed a strategy to deal with outbreaks and, for the most part, can anticipate them. But there are still ongoing challenges for me, in any case, that continue to this day. For those of you who’ve just started and feel as if there’s no end in sight, for those of you who may also be maintaining, or for those of you who are just curious, here’s an update, and what I’ve learned after almost 13 total years of experience with this diet.
[Faux Chocolate for when you can’t have the real thing. . . or even when you can.]
1. Hold Steady on NO sugar, fungus, vinegar (except ACV), active yeast.
Over time, it gets easier to allow some formerly taboo ingredients back into your diet. I will never (NEVER) eat refined sugar again; however, my repertoire of natural sweeteners has grown from stevia and yacon syrup in Stage 1 to stevia, yacon, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, lucuma, and the (very occasional) agave. I still don’t consume maple syrup (sob) or any kind of cane sugar (take note, those of you on “sugar-free” diets: evaporated cane juice is just a fancy name for “sugar.”)
Also still prohibited from my culinary repertoire are mushrooms of all kinds (though I did take a tincture for sinus issues that contained some mushroom extracts, with no ill effects); any alcohol (double sob, especially at this time of year–Oh, Segura, how I missed thee on New Year’s Eve! Dear Glenlivet, how I wish you could warm my heart this winter; and take note, G&Ts, summers will never be the same without you), or regular vinegar (I do use apple cider vinegar, often referred to as ACV, since it’s known to have anti-fungal properties, among other myriad health benefits.)
I did re-introduce some previously banned foods once I entered Stage 3 and maintenance, a couple of years ago. These include whole-grain gluten-free flours (though I’ve come to realize that too much flour or too many flour-based foods don’t work for me), plus some lower glycemic fruits that I missed terribly and eat only on occasion (to wit, pomegranate, or goji berries in place of raisins and prunes in place of dates, plus a few others).
2. Address Slip-Ups as Quickly as Possible.
Just because I don’t eat sugar doesn’t mean I’ve beaten my sugar addiction. When I make desserts and consume them too often (which for me means once a day), I find that I crave them, begin to eat more, and eventually succumb to a “binge” (my definition of a binge these days is 3 or 4 cookies, say, nothing like the entire tubs of Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting I used to eat, straight from the can, with a butter knife).
I still subscribe to Stacy Halprin’s philosophy, mentioned earlier on this blog: if you do slip up, do not berate yourself. Simply move to the next meal, or next snack, and start over as if it never happened. Repeat until the behavior sticks. Apparently it takes 6-8 tries for a smokers to permanently quit smoking; when I learned to drive (at the ripe old age of 33!), it took me more than a year–driving every day–before that habit became natural to me and I no longer had to think actively about it. I don’t see why overriding poor eating habits and conquering sweets cravings should be any different. In other words, I’m willing to keep trying 50 times, or 500 times, to prevail with healthy eating that sticks permanently. Nine-five percent of the time, I’m successful.
3. My Weight Will Fluctuate.
Right now, my weight is “up” again. I tend to fluctuate up to 20 pounds in one direction or another (kids, do not try this at home). If I am consistent in my healthy eating and exercise, it eventually balances out again (though my naturopath is now suspecting adrenal fatigue–for which I’m currently being treated–and hidden, uncovered allergies in this case, for which I’ll follow an elimination diet eventually).
For me personally, certain carbs (mostly grains) seem to be the culprit. However, my diet also relies on fat-laden foods like nuts and seeds for much of my protein (and sweet cravings), so I am sure that my weight is connected to how much of those I consume as well; not to mention that I’m not heading into the stage of “mature woman” (though not getting those senior discounts just yet–darn!), which can cause weight gain. And, as many of you have helpfully pointed out in the comments, addressing long-standing emotional issues is essential to permanently banish excess weight. Despite many years of therapy (and continued visits), those emotional issues still hang on. But I’m working on it! If I go up a few pounds (or ten), I try not to freak out too much, which only causes stress (and then stress eating. . . a vicious cycle).
4. Pick Your Battles, in Food as in Life.
Even though I know that some foods might trigger cravings, I am not willing to forfeit all aspects of a “normal” life at this point being on the diet. My hubby and I still eat in restaurants on occasion (and that “occasion” has decreased dramatically from 3-4 times a week in our first year together, down to maybe once a month at present).
Similarly, when we’re on vacation, I do my best to ensure that the meals are ACD-compliant, but if I have some vinegar in a salad dressing, or even (gasp!) dates in a raw dessert, I do not worry about it. I find those aren’t the events that trigger overeating in any case; when I’m on holiday, I don’t have access to my own kitchen, so I won’t go bake up a brownie and scarf down three pieces of it one afternoon. For me, the triggers are much more here at home.
[Still a favorite snack and an absolute must for me when I want a “safe” sweet.]
5. When Necessary, Return to Square One.
Unlike weight-loss diets, the ACD is kind of a diet for life, and you don’t get to reincorporate most of the foods you gave up once you’ve attained your “goal.” It does afford the opportunity, on maintenance, to enjoy so many of the delicious, even decadent, desserts that I love so much; but with the ACD, I find that (for me, at least), it’s a good idea to return occasionally to the first stage of the diet, sort of like a detox or the way you can “revert to default settings” on your computer. I revisit Stage One when I feel I’ve veered too far from the strictures of anti-candida living (say, like when I’ve been baking 4 or 5 times a day over several months when testing for a new cookbook). At those times, I try to pare down the diet and consume only the foods that helped to reverse the symptoms in the first place: clean veggies; fresh fruits, sparingly; nuts and seeds; less starchy legumes and beans; some grains.
When I’m attempting to reset my metabolism this way, I forfeit any baked goods and most flours as well, going grain-free as much as possible (I don’t worry about the occasional bowl of steel-cut oats or rice with Indian food, for instance, but I don’t’ mix up muffins or cakes or pancakes for breakfast during those times). After a couple of weeks on this regimen, I usually feel recharged and revitalized, ready to resume my regular ACD activities.
My goal this winter is to incorporate more fresh juices and raw foods into my winter diet. I love fresh juice–even 100% vegetable varieties–and raw foods have always been a favorite. The challenge, I think, will be to steer clear of sweeter desserts, even as I bake them up daily for the next month to complete a manuscript. [Edit, February 2013: manuscript completed–baking done for a while!]
So how will that affect what I post here on the blog? Expect to see more savory dishes and more grain-free fare (including desserts). I was delighted with your response to my detox juice post a while back and hope to post more juice recipes as well. And, of course, I want to hear from you and what you’d like to see more of: Stage One foods? Later foods? Stevia-based desserts? More main dishes? Let me know and I’ll go for it–I am always up for a recipe challenge!
If you’re on an anti-candida diet, or, like me, have been on it for a while, I’d love to hear how this compares to your experience. What are the greatest challenges for you on the diet? What has helped you to stay the course? Please share your experiences, tips and tricks, or anything else candida-related that you’d like in the comments! (Even if you’re not following an anti-candida diet, feel free to share your experiences around consuming sugar and how it has affected you as well).
And now–today’s recipe (congratulations if you’ve made it this far!). This is a dish The HH and I have whenever I’m stumped for what to make for dinner, or if we simply feel like eating something that tastes a little bit “naughty.” These are nachos fully loaded with all the toppers that we love and that make for totally indulgent “junk food.” This dish hits all the key spots for gustatory variety and satisfaction: crunchy (corn chips), salty (ditto), smooth and creamy (cheese sauce), briney (olives), hot and fiery (jalapenos), saucy (salsa), meaty (meat crumbles). Feel free to substitute your own favorite cheese sauce or even grated Daiya if it means speeding up the prep time.
This is the anti-candida diet equivalent of fast food. If you can tolerate corn, this makes a spectacular quick dinner–or plate to share with friends on a casual Saturday evening.
About 2 cups (480 ml) organic corn chips (I use Garden of Eatin‘)
1 cup (240 ml) rinsed and drained cooked black beans (canned are fine; rinse well).
1/2 recipe Faux Meat Crumbles (or your choice of faux ground beef)
1 recipe Cheesy Sauce (below) or about 1 cup shredded Daiya
About 1 cup (240 ml) organic, sugar-free salsa (or use homemade)–we use medium-hot
Toppings of choice: sliced olives, sliced onion, sliced jalapenos, chopped sweet bell peppers
Preheat oven to 400F (200 C). Line a pie plate or pan with corn chips. Prepare the cheesy sauce and set aside.
Top the chips with a layer of beans, a layer of meaty crumbles, and a layer of cheese sauce. Sprinkle with toppings of choice and bake for 25-35 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and everything is heated through. Dig in and enjoy. Makes 4 dinner servings or 8 snack servings.
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable broth or stock
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened almond or soy milk
1/2 cup (75 g) raw cashews
1/2 medium sweet red bell pepper, cut in chunks
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 small clove garlic
1 tsp (5 ml) dijon mustard
1/4 tsp (1 ml) paprika
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) onion powder
1 tsp (5 ml) mild miso
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, to your taste
1 Tbsp (15 ml) potato starch
1 tsp (5 ml) Bragg’s liquid aminos, wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) sriracha, optional
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a small pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken; stir for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and use on nachos. May also be used on pasta or as a dip for raw veggies.
Suitable for: ACD Maintenance and beyond, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, vegan.
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Five Years Ago: Roasted Potatoes with Sweet and Sour Cippolini Onions (gluten free; ACD Maintenance)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs
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