I grew up on rice and peas, bun and cheese, boiled dumpling, and many other carbohydrate-rich foods. It’s one of the advantages of being raised by parents of Jamaican descent; I’ve always been in touch with my culture’s cuisine (which in my adolescence quickly became integrated with the Western diet) and it’s helped shape my identity.
A couple of years ago, I noticed that I’d experience post nasal drip, bloating, brain fog and other reactions especially after eating dairy products and foods high in simple carbs. I went to my doctor seeking a solution only to be prescribed allergy medicines, and to be recommended that I make general lifestyle changes, like exercising and increasing my water intake. It was only until I saw a naturopath that everything made sense. I told her my symptoms and she asked, “what do you eat?” Not only did my response allow her to diagnose me right away with candida, but it also uncovered a pattern in my eating habits. I came to discover I ate a diet filled with simple carbs, starchy foods, and sugars that led to my onset of candida.
What is Candida?
If you haven’t heard of candida before, it’s basically an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast in the intestines causing dysbiosis (an imbalance of healthy gut flora). Candida actually exists in everyone, but as with anything pertaining to the body, it needs to be kept in balance with other bacteria to ensure wellness. When that balance is thrown off, for example when eating a diet high in simple carbs and sugar or with the prolonged use of antibiotics, it can disrupt the balance of healthy gut flora and cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria and candida yeast. If it worsens, the candida can leak past the cells of your intestinal walls and go into your bloodstream affecting different areas of the body, causing a variety of symptoms such as headaches, food sensitivities, and inflammation. In fact, many people aren’t aware that a lot of the disease in our bodies stems from digestive issues. Common ailments like constant migraines can be a symptom of poor gut health. That being said, I’m pretty sure I got candida due to my old diet which was heavy in carbohydrates and sugar.
Now that I had discovered this information, I needed to find out how to repair my gut health.
I was expecting an easier way to alleviate my issues, but unfortunately, with candida overgrowth, there is no magic pill. My healing had to start with major lifestyle changes which included a diet free of wheat, yeast, dairy, sugar, and alcohol in addition to regular herbal supplements to restore my health. I was conflicted with how I was going to maintain my identity with this cleanse, but I’m happy to say I’m learning how to adapt to these changes in order to heal myself. As time goes on, and my food sensitivities decrease, I have gradually added my favorite foods back into my diet.
Adapting to the Candida Diet
I’ve come to realize during this cleanse how much I’ve identified with food. Referring back to my first sentence, I was raised on a heavy carb diet. It was a part of who I was so when I found out I couldn’t eat certain foods, I almost felt lost. I’ve had to find myself within my new eating habits and also change the way I looked at food. Instead of consuming it for enjoyment and out of habit, I’ve had to see it as nourishment for my body.
Although my new Candida-friendly diet may sound restrictive, I try to maintain the same social life especially when it comes to eating at restaurants. I always do a quick menu search beforehand to see what I can and cannot eat and also what meals I’ll have to customize. For example, one restaurant I’ve gone to offers a burger with lettuce bun instead of a wheat bun which works out perfectly for me. When I’m not going out to eat, I’m at home preparing my meals. I go grocery shopping and do meal prep weekly so that I always have something to eat. Some of my go-to meals include salmon and lettuce, baked chicken with quinoa, and for breakfast: a vegetable omelet with a side of broccoli.
I thought of starting the @candidablogger Instagram page solely as a food journal but it has quickly gained a following of people who draw inspiration and guidance from my posts. On my page, I share my daily meals and connect with other health-conscious individuals who are healing their bodies through food. I plan to start a Youtube channel as an extension of my Instagram page so that I can share my journey towards healing and total health with other foodies.