Perhaps a question I get asked more than any other is,
“Does it matter if I break the anti-Candida diet?”
With Christmas in close sight, office parties, meals out with colleagues and family get togethers are in full swing. So where does that leave you while following very specific diet recommendations?
“Does it matter if I break the anti-Candida diet plan?”
The easy answer is “Yes!”. It does matter.
Why? Candida (and most other intestinal yeasts or pathogens) are extremely opportunistic. This means just one ‘treat’ dessert or glass of wine can thoroughly encourage the fungus. This can then lead to an increase in symptoms – sometimes immediately, or in many cases delayed by a day or two. In just a few small mouthfuls you have encouraged the intestinal yeast, that for months previously you have been starving with the diet and attacking with the supplements. All that hard work and money wasted! Succumbing to a couple of desserts has the potential to set you back considerably.
Some people can get quite an intense, immediate reaction to sugary or fermented foods. This makes it easy – they don’t want to feel ill, so the foods are avoided. It is harder if you don’t see any response to eating a ‘forbidden’ food, as this means that you will feel tempted to eat it again…and again… and again. And then you might suddenly get hit with a build up of symptoms.
So over Christmas, (a time when you want to be feeling as well as possible) my advice is to stick to the diet as well as you are able. You may need to make some compromises, especially if you are staying away home. But I would say eating foods containing sugar is not a compromise but an indulgence, and one over which you need to exercise will-power. Remember how sugary junk food got you into the health crisis in the first place.
So here are some tips to help you navigate the next few weeks!
Remember why you are on a special diet.
Your anti-candida dietary recommendations are not based on a fad or passing craze! Your decision to follow a careful diet plan was based on your desire to support your health – to encourage a balanced flora within the digestive tract, or to allow the gut lining an opportunity to heal in the light of allergies. A main motivation therefore to stick to your Nutritionhelp recommendations is to prevent an increase in symptoms or fatigue over the holiday season.
When Eating in Someone’s Home:
- Tell your host in advance that you won’t be eating a dessert or other sweet foods. Then, when they produce lavish sweetmeats and intricate puddings, they won’t feel slighted by your lack of up-take, and you won’t feel embarrassed at saying ‘no thank you’!
- Make best possible choices. Avoid the desserts as above, but then make the best possible choice from the options available to you. For example this may mean asking for a small portion, having more vegetables than refined rice, or leaving the sauce or gravy.
- You can always eat at home later. If your choices are limited at a buffet party, and you find yourself munching through the salad that garnishes the rest of the food, you can always eat something else at home later if you are still hungry.
- Remind yourself of the main reason for the event – to be with others and enjoy their company, not to eat a pile of sugar.
When Eating in a Restaurant:
- If possible, look at the Restaurant menu online before you go. This way you can think through what the best option might be, without being under pressure.
- If you know where you are going, call ahead and make any specific dietary requests over the phone, so you don’t feel embarrassed when you are with others.
- Don’t be afraid to ‘mix and match’ with the menu. Can they serve more vegetables instead of white rice or cheesy potatoes? Is it possible to have the salad without dressing, but with some olive oil on the side? Could they prepare the meat without the sauce?
Be the Host
If you are well enough, be the host. Inviting friends and family to your own party or dinner can mean you can control the food choices, while also introducing healthy foods to others. Consider making simple salad platter, topped with cooked hot or cold chicken, prawns, baked salmon, or vegetable kebabs. Serve with a side of turmeric-cooked brown rice or quinoa which are easy to prepare. These sort of foods are appreciated by everyone, and no-one need know you are on a special diet.
- Plan your meals. Make sure you have plenty of ‘allowable’ foods in stock, so you have something to turn to and enjoy. Experiment with some of the ‘treats’ in Erica White’s Beat Candida Cookbook
- Don’t get hungry. If you know that you will be having a larger meal than normal, don’t skip the meal beforehand. That will cause you to be extra hungry and less likely to make good choices
- If you are well enough, keep active, so that enjoyment of the holidays doesn’t revolve around food! A walk after meals is helpful for everyone (a torch-light walk is extra special for children!). After-dinner games keeps the emphasis on relationships rather than food. I keep to hand several Lotto-type games, suitable for any age-group, and require very little brain-power after a big meal!
- Don’t be ‘pushed’ into eating foods which are not allowed on an anti-candida programme. It is amazing how guilty people feel when eating a dessert if someone else isn’t joining in. It is up to them if they eat sugary foods. You don’t have to eat sweet dishes to make others feel better about themselves!
- Don’t stress! Remember, stress can lead to a release of your body’s sugar stores, which feeds intestinal yeast just as easily as a spoon of sugar. Plan ahead, make best choices and then relax and enjoy your meal times. Perhaps you will unknowingly eat something with a little sugar or yeast extract. However, worrying and stressing will make any reaction worse. Keep some vitamin C to hand to provide some detoxification support if you find you are having a mild reaction to a food eaten.