Friday, September 28, 2012

Moving Mountains

This past weekend I was up north for a women's retreat at church camp I grew up going to.  On my way there, I almost turned the car around to go back home because I was so afraid I was either going to be miserable all weekend, I was going to eat something that would make me sick, or both.  Ironically, an hour before my mini-crisis, I had called the local Christian station here and offered this as my Friday "I Believe" Statement:  "I believe that God is watching over me, protecting me and providing for me, even when my emotions or my circumstances try and tell me otherwise."  Lord, I believe- help me in my unbelief!  It is astounding how quickly we can forget to trust Him and the promises that he gives us in his Word.

I had been feeling led to give this diet over to God all week, to place it in his hands, but I was fighting to stay in control.  But what if, God?  What if I the cook misunderstood my recipes, or ingredients, or instructions?  "Be still, and know that I am God."  But shouldn't I just check to make sure?  Wouldn't it be better if I did stay home, then I know what's in my food and don't have to worry about it?  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't try to understand everything on your own.  In ALL your ways, acknowledge him and he will show you the way to go."  But... but... I don't want to.  It's too hard.   "Do you trust me?"  Yes... well, kind of, as long as I can still be in control....  Oh wait, that's not exactly trust is it?

So there was my inner dialog as I drove north on I94, but I kept going and I made it there.  And I am so glad I did.  I had a great weekend, the food was excellent and well prepared, and God had some great things to say to me.  My favorite was this:  "This too shall pass.  Don't give up, keep on following where I lead you.  Trust in Me."  This too shall pass.  

Another quote from the weekend that really stood out to me was "The Enemy's two favorite words to bring us down are always and never."  And that is exactly what Satan has been whispering in my ear, over and over.  "You are always going to have to struggle with this diet.  You are never going to feel better no matter what you do.  It is ALWAYS going to be this difficult."  Get behind me Satan!  This is only one moment in time, and God will lead me through it.  I will stand on His promises and believe in His Truth.  To quote Jason Castro, "This is only a mountain.  You don't have to find your way around it.  Tell it to move it will move, tell it to fall, it will fall.  This is only a moment, you don't have to let your fear control it.  Tell it to move it will move, tell it to move it will move."

A Day Away From Home- traveling with dietary restrictions

One of my biggest fears when starting the Candida Diet was how to travel and still be able to eat the limited food options that fit my dietary restrictions.  (Note: this post refers only to day trips and traveling to places where you are able to bring your own food.  I have no idea how you would travel to a hotel in a distant city and still be able to eat clean.  If anyone knows or has done this, please share!)  We had several events plan during the first month of my diet including a Friday night wedding and an airshow which would last the entire day.  I knew I would probably not be able to eat anything offered at either event, so at first it seemed like my only two options were to cheat on the diet or to go hungry.

The wedding was at a fancy venue from six PM until after ten PM, so I needed to have something to eat but I didn't want to cart in anything that even remotely looked like a cooler.  (It definitely would not have gone with my outfit!)   The airshow was an all day event three hours from my home, so going hungry wasn't really a viable option for me and the only food they had available was concession stand food ranging from corn dogs to funnel cakes.  The healthiest option there appeared to be the Supreme Nachos (lettuce, tomatoes, ground beef... soaking in grease) but even my husband who has a steel-coated stomach said they made him feel sick.

So I knew I had to find another option besides cheating or going hungry and I found a few different ways to adjust.  The key element in eating away from home comes down to two words:  PLAN AHEAD.  For me one of the most important things was getting a letter from my doctor stating my dietary restrictions.  The airshow required that I had it and it came in handy at the reception as well.

 For the Friday wedding I went out and bought a cute little cooler that no one even realized was a cooler, they just thought it was my purse.  It is a Fit & Fresh brand cooler that I purchased at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and you can find it online at or look up "Fit & Fresh" on  They have lots of styles and patterns to choose from so it's easy to find one to fit your fashion needs.  Thirty-One Gifts also has quite a few options, look under Thermals on their website

At the reception, one of the first things I did was to find the person in charge and let him or her know of my situation.  I let him know that I had a letter from my doctor explaining my restrictions and that I had brought a small cooler with food that I had prepared at home.  I politely asked if it would be okay for me to eat my food there at the venue.  The maitre-d was so impressed by all my prep work and the fact that his kitchen staff wouldn't have to read labels on every single item they brought out that he actually thanked me!  He made sure the closing captain (main server) knew what was going on and instructed all the rest of the servers to "leave you alone to eat your food in peace!"   I took out my food, ate it, and the party went on.  It was a great reception and I am so glad I was able to celebrate that special time with my friends without feeling left out or making a big scene.

The airshow was the following day and we left our house at six AM and got home some time after ten PM.  I emailed the public relations contact listed on the airshow's website and explained my dietary restrictions and he requested that I obtain a letter from my doctor and pack my food in a soft-sided cooler.  I had prepped all of my food for both the reception and the airshow on Thursday night and I had it all stacked up in the fridge and ready to go.  I actually ended up having too much food and I was able to share some of my healthy food with my husband who was craving some nutrition after his Supreme(ly gross) Nachos.

After the airshow, my family and I went to a restaurant in town that I had researched the week before.  I knew they had at least two things on the menu that I would be able to eat and the Lake Superior fresh caught white fish with wild rice medley was amazing!  I did have a little bit of a cheat with the cranberries in the wild rice, but I am learning to let the small things slide.  (This doesn't mean I'm going to be counting M&Ms or Dip & Dots as "small things," but a little bit of accidental fruit here or a little bit of carrots there just might keep me sane during the next three months.)  Again, the key here was planning ahead- we knew which restaurant would be able to accommodate my food restrictions, we knew how to get there, and we all had delicious, healthy food for dinner.

"So what exactly could you pack to eat?"  This question really gave me a hard time- the food had to be ready to eat (and not need to be heated up), easy to make, easy to consume (not requiring a plate, fork, knife, and spoon), and able to stay fresh in a cooler for several hours.  My only experience with food like that was PB&J sandwiches and Luncheables, until I discovered Applegate Farms turkey deli meat at Trader Joe's!  My menu for the Friday reception was: deli turkey roll-ups with fresh avocado spread and mixed greens, celery & snow pea pods with almond butter, and home made almond cookies for dessert.  For Saturday I added a few things to the Friday menu:  plain yogurt with cinnamon and walnuts for breakfast, homemade power bars, homemade chicken noodle soup in a thermos, and plain raw almonds.  Let's just say I didn't go hungry that day!

I can't stress this enough, the key to a successful "day away from home" is planning ahead.  I have to find time to plan the menu, purchase the food,  prep the food before hand, figure out the best way to get it there and who I need to talk to to make sure that it's okay to bring it.  It is a lot of work, but for me it has been totally worth it to be able to spend time with my family and friends.  I'm not going to lie, I am REALLY looking forward to easing up on the diet and being able to have fruit and healthy gluten free deli tortilla wraps and hopefully someday soon adding eggs back in to my diet, but until my body heals this is where I am at and I have to make plans to get through it.  Please let me know if you have any ideas, easily portable meal items, or tips on how to travel with a restricted diet.  Being on a restricted diet is not easy, but sharing the road with someone who understands makes the journey just a little bit easier.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!"  Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On my way home from work I picked up some kelp noodles for the first time ever and then decided to make my own chicken noodle soup.  The kelp noodles may take some getting used to, they are a little rubbery for my palate, but not too bad.  The fact that this recipe was super easy AND contains seven of the Top Ten Candida Fighting Foods makes it a worthwhile recipe.  I served it with the Herb Crackers of Elana's Pantry fame- so good!

Slightly Spicy Candida-Kicker Chicken "Noodle" Soup

4 cups Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
1 package kelp noodles
1 large celery stalk, diced
8 green onions, chopped
2 cups of rotisserie chicken breast, pulled 
1 clove of garlic minced
1 TB lemon juice

1 TB extra virgin coconut oil
1 TB ginger powder
dash of cayenne pepper 

1.  Combine chicken broth, lemon juice, coconut oil, ginger powder, and dash of cayenne pepper in a large stock pot.
2.  Add celery, onions, and garlic to the broth mixture.
3.  Bring these ingredients to a boil, then add chicken and kelp noodles.
4. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  

Makes four servings (two cups each).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This weekend will mark my first outing into the world while on my restricted diet.  Until now I have been able to control all the details of my food.  I have been able to plan each and every detail of everything I eat.  I have been in control (even when I have felt just the opposite).  This weekend, I will hand that control over to another person whom I have never met and trust that this person has understood all of my careful planning and directions and suggestions.

As fantastic as it will be to not have to purchase, prep, and prepare all of my food for two whole days, I am having a hard time letting go of the control.  I want to check all of the ingredients, read every label of every ingredient used, double check that the recipes were followed exactly.  And yet I feel led to trust that everything will be okay, that the person cooking my food has heard me and understood me enough to "get it right."  More than that, I feel like God is calling me to trust Him with my food, my diet, and my health.

The hard fact of the matter is that I don't really want to.  I want to be in control.  I want to hole up in my house for the next three months and skip life for awhile.  Then I can eat the breakfast that I made at home;  I can pack my own lunch that I make each day for work; I can make my own dinner and know each and every ingredient.  For the next three months.   I could do this, and a huge part of me wants to, but I feel God calling me to trust Him and watch how He will move in my life through this difficult time.

I heard a new song on the radio today, "Only a Mountain" by Jason Castro.  The chorus goes like this:

This is only a mountain
You don't have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it'll move
Tell it to fall, it'll fall
This is only a moment
You don't have to let your fear control it
Tell it to move, it'll move
Tell it to fall, it'll fall

I've been staring up at this mountain and planning how to scale it and worrying about how to get to the top, or get around it, or dig under it.  In this song God reminded me of the role that my faith needs to play in this struggle- in Him I have the power to over come it.  My "mountain" is fear, anger, frustration, and discouragement.  This is only one moment in my lifetime, just three months.  I don't need to live my life in fear anymore.  I need to trust Him and trust His provision for me.  "Lord, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Top Ten Candida Fighting Foods

I want to hit this with all that I have available to me, so I am currently in search of the perfect recipe with will incorporate all ten of these ingredients and still taste amazing.  I'll let you know as soon as I come up with it.  Until then, here are the ingredients and their candida fighting stats so you can work on a recipe of your own.

The Top Ten Candida Fighting Foods

1. Coconut oil is a potent Candida killer, and one of the most potent antifungals there is. It contains Lauric acid and Caprylic acid, which both help prevent Candida overgrowth and strengthen your immune system.
Coconut oil is very heat stable, so it's an ideal oil to use for frying and cooking. It is also cheap to buy and has a much longer shelf life than other oils, so there's no excuse! You can 2-3 tablespoons per day.
2.  Garlic has powerful antifungal properties to attack Candida, while also preserving and boosting the good bacteria in your digestive system. Garlic stimulates the liver and colon, giving it a potent detoxifying effect on the body.
If you love garlic, then use it liberally to flavor your food. You can also drink 2-4 cloves per day, crushed and mixed with water as an anti-Candida tonic. Avoid taking it on an completely empty stomach, and try it with a tablespoon of coconut oil to cut down on the stomach burn.
3. Onions have strong anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties. They also help to flush excess fluids out the body - this is useful because many Candida sufferers experience water retention. Onions along with garlic can give you breath issues, so a handy tip is to eat them with a bit of parsley to counter the smell.
4. Seaweed is a nutrient-dense healing food that will help the body in the fight against Candida. It is rich in Iodine to help balance your thyroid gland - Candida sufferers often experience hypothyroidism and its many symptoms. Seaweed flushes toxic pollutants and heavy metals from the body, and cleanses your intestinal tract.
Kelp extract supplements are one of the most potent sources of Iodine, but you should also try eating lots of different types of seaweed.
5. Almonds can be your best friend - a healthy portable snack that will help with your Candida diet. Keep them handy to counter any temptation when you are on the go and starving. Research has actually shown that almonds have prebiotic properties that promote beneficial bacteria in the gut. Some people have problems digesting almonds, so soak them first if you have any issues. Just leave them in water overnight or for around 8 hours.
6. Ginger has a detoxing on the body by increasing circulation and detoxifying the liver, in addition to stimulating the immune system. It has a positive effect on the digestive system and helps reduce intestinal gas. It also has a soothing effect on any inflammation that the Candida overgrowth may cause in your intestinal tract.
7. Olive oil contains a plant chemical named Oleuropein, which is found in both olive oil and olive leaf extract. It contains powerful anti-fungal properties and stimulates your immune system response to Candida. It has also been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels - this is important for Candida sufferers because elevated blood sugar levels can feed your yeast overgrowth.
8.  Lemon and lime juice stimulate the peristaltic action of your colon, increasing the efficiency of your digestive system.
Both lemons and limes are great options for seasoning your vegetable, fish and meat dishes.
9. Pumpkin Seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties. 'Omega-3's also help combat depression and symptoms of Candida inflammation such as pain and skin conditions. It is a well established fact that most of us do not get enough Omega-3 oils in our diet to maintain optimum thyroid health. Deficiencies in this fatty acid have been linked to lower thyroid hormone levels. For an easy Omega-3 boost, add these pumpkin seeds to cereal, smoothies, salads or even use them as a portable snack.
10.  Cayenne pepper gives natural support to your digestive system and immune system. It helps to digest food and reduces constipation by cleansing the bowel of Candida and other toxins. Cayenne also increases metabolism and circulation, which will help to reduce one of the most common Candida symptoms, fatigue. Use cayenne pepper liberally to spice up your favorite foods.

Day 5 of the Strict Diet Phase

I am on day five of the Strict Diet Phase of the Candida Diet, and I want to quit.  I feel like junk and I feel like I'm going crazy.  I can't think straight and I feel like I've been hit by a bus.  "But wait!" they tell me.  "This is a good thing!  It means the diet is really starting to work!"  Yes, my friends, I am now experiencing what is known as Candida Die Off.  And it sucks.

A search for symptoms of Candida Die Off provides you with many different options of maladies to choose from.  You can experience everything from "fatigue, depression, aches, irritability and abdominal pains" to nausea, chills, fever, and hives.  I have been experiencing the fatigue, aches, irritability, abdominal pains, elevated heart rate, and increased muscle and joint pain.  Thankfully, it is a quite weekend for us at home and I have an amazing husband who is currently at the farmer's market shopping for fresh organic vegetables.  I know I am blessed and I try to keep focused on that during this difficult transition for my body.

So what is Candida Die Off?  Did you know your body can produce ethanol?  I didn't know that until just now, so I'm guessing you didn't either.  I thought ethanol was just something made from corn that you put in your car at the gas station.  Turns out I was wrong.  According to, "When yeast cells are rapidly killed, a die-off (or Herxheimer reaction) occurs and metabolic by-products are released into the body. The Candida yeast cells actually release 79 different toxins when they die, including ethanol and acetaldehyde."  I'm not sure I want to know what acetaldehyde is.  

So what should I do about it?  Well, it depends on who you ask.  One book I have says "Please don't give up!  ... Drink lots of water and know that you are making progress!"  The Candida Diet website says, "Candida Die-Off symptoms will vary from person to person, as each will have different degrees of infestation. If you are having severe Die-Off symptoms, slow down your treatment and reduce your dosage of probiotics and antifungals. The liver is your main pathway for eliminating toxins, and the Die-Off symptoms mean that it is being overwhelmed."  So do I power through or do I pull back?  I guess since I haven't even started the probiotics and antifungals yet, I should just power through it.  If you are experiencing the same thing, I wish I could give you a direct answer but, unfortunately, there just isn't one.

And there it is, one of my biggest problems and struggles with this treatment diet.  There are no straight answers.  What works for me might not work for you.  It's all trial and error, and for me right now it seems to mostly be errors.  I guess that's what this blog is for, to document the trials, errors, and (hopefully someday in the very near future) successes.  I look forward to sharing my successes with you and being able to tell you first hand that it is worth all the confusion and effort.