Having a candida overgrowth is pretty brutal but in all honesty, getting rid of it is even harder. I had attempted to eradicate candida through several times, and after several brief successes, followed by failures – my third time was the charm.
There is no shame in “failing”, if anything my first attempts allowed me to learn a lot more about this protocol, how my body reacted and what I truly needed to succeed. As always, never try any new diet without consulting your preferred health care professional in advance.
Start Where You Are
For some people, making a huge dietary change is easy! They wake up one morning and can completely shift their habits. And I applaud those people, however, I am not one of them! I find the most success when I take small steps leading up to any protocol. My number one vice is coffee, so I started eliminating coffee from my diet 6 weeks prior to starting the protocol. Then I eliminated dairy and gluten, and started taking antimicrobial herbs prior to completely eliminating grains. All of this allowed my body to transition slowly but also my mind.
Prepare to Be Challenged and Uncomfortable
I love eating and when I can’t eat, all I do is think about eating – whether I am hungry or not. This is why I always found the anti-candida protocol particularly challenging; it eliminated all of my favourite foods. While my diet has always included tons of fresh vegetables, healthy soups, stews and whole wheat or gluten free pastas and breads – what I crave the most when I change my diet is pizza, chips, macaroni and cheese…you get the picture. I had to come to terms with the fact that not only was I craving all of those delicious, sugar-filled foods, the candida was as well. If I wanted to really succeed and feel better, I had to ignore the cravings and enjoy my third salad of the day.
Everyone experiences die-off in different ways. Ultimately, the goal would be to avoid having a lot of die-off at once but despite my best efforts, I always experienced it – and mostly in the form of anxiety. On my third attempt, even though I knew I had previously experienced terrible anxiety at the start of the protocol, I had forgotten how bad it truly was. This time around, I was lucky to have time where I could rest for multiple days and boy, was it needed!
My anxiety was so terrible that every little thing felt like a mountain and I quickly lost sight of the fact that this was a die-off symptom and would pass. It also made me question whether or not I should even be doing the protocol since I was so hungry. My anxiety and other die-off symptoms (throbbing in my joints) subsided after about a week and it felt as though a veil had been lifted. After this, my routine became pretty standard and I was enjoying all of the meals I was making. I promise, it does get better and a lot easier to manage.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Adjusting to the candida protocol can be quite challenging at first, and it is easy to “cheat” when you’re tired, stressed out and hungry. That is why planning is so essential! For me this meant planning out anything and everything candida related in my day – from when I took certain supplements, to all of my meals and snacks (obviously). But this also meant planning for the unexpected – being invited over to a friends house for drinks or going to a restaurant. Just because you can’t eat and drink what everyone else is, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself.
To avoid “cheating” in the moment if I was going out, I always pre-made food to bring with me and brought a nice drink to replace alcohol. I tried to stay as close to the actual food being served as possible, so I felt less left out (e.g. bringing a vegetable based vegan charcuterie board to book club). Going out to restaurants also presented its own challenges but it is easy to navigate if you study the menu in advance. This not only tells you what you will be able to eat when you’re there, but also, how much food you should eat beforehand to avoid hunger – in case, let’s say, all that is available on the menu is a garden salad.
Pre-make as many meals as possible
Another way to ensure success is to pre-make as many meals as possible. My fridge was always stocked with pre-made salads, soups and vegetables. The times when I succumb to cravings or hunger are always when I am tired and don’t feel like having to cook. During the initial stages of the cleanse, I had 4 main meals – two that I needed to prepare (breakfast and dinner) and two that were pre-made, that I could either eat as is, or heat up (early lunch and late lunch.
This kept me full all day, but also ensured that I didn’t get too hungry before I had to make dinner. I could have also premade dinner, but chose not to because I enjoyed freshly baked vegetables, as opposed to reheated – but in theory you could pre-make all of your meals.
Don’t forget about Biofilm Busters
What exactly is biofilm and why do we need to bust it? Biofilm is a layer of protection that forms around bacteria and makes them difficult to eradicate. This is why some bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. A form of biofilm that you can see is plaque! When you do a candida protocol, you generally take a series of antimicrobial herbs to kill the bacteria but you can pair that with a biofilm buster to make the candida more susceptible to being killed. This is something that I skipped the first two times I tried the protocol, simply because I didn’t know!
Be Kind To Yourself
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack. Changing your diet is often quite challenging and that’s ok. If one day, you can’t handle it anymore and devour a chocolate bar – determine why that happened, where you may need to change your plan and then keep going.