I want to share what my experience was like during my year of clean-eating. The struggles and triumphs that go along with this diet are many.
So why the heck would I go on this limiting diet? Back in 2013, I took way too many rounds of antibiotics due to a reoccurring yeast infection, and I wasn’t aware of how much damage that was doing to my gut which houses 70% of our immune system. The antibiotics were actually making it much worse (A quick explanation: Antibiotics wipe out all the bacteria in your gut, giving candida which is an opportunistic bacteria, a chance to overgrow and once it overgrows it’s difficult for the good bacteria, probiotics, to colonize again. Probiotics are linked to better mood, brain function, immune health and so much more. In other words, I had wrecked havoc on my overall health). I was so upset that my gynecologist was repeatedly giving me exactly the thing that had started the candida overgrowth in the first place and also failed to mention that I should at least be taking probiotics supplements during and after the course was finished. I was even more upset that I blindly followed without fact checking. As a result, I gradually (symptoms creep up on you very slowly) felt extreme fatigue, depression and I also had cystic acne that did wonders for my self-esteem. I felt so hopeless and confused at the time and this extreme diet gave me much needed hope that their could be a way out.
What it consisted of (or more appropriately, what it didn’t consist of):
- No sugar (I didn’t have a legit dessert for a really long time… this may be why I went a little crazy in the beginning of my travels… but it’s time to pull back the reigns.) Instead of sweets, I got a bit addicted to Goguma (Korean sweet potatoes) fruit and almond butter.
- No caffeine (I still had black tea like chai on occasion because I still craved coffee like no other. I also tried chicory root which had an earthy taste and was also a deep, dark-black like coffee, the color helped for some reason.)
- No alcohol (I was really good about this one. I still haven’t had a drink since the end of 2014 and don’t plan on starting any time soon)
- Very little fruit (green apples and berries only. Occasionally I cheated esp. toward the end of my time on this diet and I didn’t feel much of a difference at all, only when I would over-indulge would I feel uncomfortable but that goes for anything that you over-do)
- Lots of fresh vegetables (preferably cooked not raw so it’s easier to digest… This is according to my acupuncturist at the time who seemed to have a lot of knowledge about candid) I ate salads everyday and was a master at mixing ingredients and making damn good tasting variations.
- No food with any mold content: peanuts, cashews, melons, coffee, vinegar
- Limited beans (stick to the smaller ones, they’re less starchy. Lentils rather than kidney beans)
- Grains (quinoa, millet, I didn’t react very well to buckwheat)
- Fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt)
- Healthy meats and fish (low/no hormone and antibiotic meat, grass fed beef, wild-caught fish). After YTT I dramatically cut back on meat consumption.
- Free-range eggs
- No carbs (no rice and anything with wheat/flour: pasta, bread. Use coconut, almond, quinoa or buckwheat flour instead for baking. Or organic bean pasta, 100% black beans… yeah that exists and it tasted really good)
- No processed or packaged foods (except if it was organic bean pasta, wild-caught sardines, organic & vinegar-free mustard, you get the idea.)
- Little to no dairy (It’s inflammatory. Man… I missed cheese. But it was comforting to learn that cheese is addictive like a drug. I tried nutritional yeast which I didn’t like very much.)
- I put Bragg’s apple cider vinegar with the mother in all my salads (other vinegars are a no-no)
- Alternative to soy sauce: Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Additional things I did:
- Probiotic supplements every single day, often twice a day for a year… yeah it was pricey but it was all in the name of my health, the most important thing
- I took an epsom salt bath as often as possible to draw out toxins. Sweating is really important.
- I dry brushed
- I allowed myself to relax and do nothing
- I exercised more and fell deeper in love with yoga.
- Gave myself a lot more emotional support during the journey, it’s a compete lifestyle change and it takes a toll on pretty much every aspect of your life (socializing, no drinking, can’t eat a lot of things, having to explain your situation)
- Patience, your body has an amazing capacity for self-healing but it takes time.
- Have friends and family to help you through the tough times when you just want to give up.
The biggest thing I learned during this diet was to be freakin kind to myself and do it with some level of joy. The joy came from the fact that it caught me how to cook really tasty, healthy meals for myself, it taught me how to do my own research when it came to each and every particular food cause I really wanted to know if I needed to give it up. I learned about fermented foods, inflammation, stress, how to boost your immune system so that it could fight the candida. It gave me so much but I also had moments where I was really stressed over the diet and hated it with a passion. Take a moment to show yourself love for what you have accomplished in these moments. Praise yourself often.
I also couldn’t have done it without my friends and family. Thank you to all who listened to my incessant chatter about what’s healthy and what’s not. Thank you mom for arduously making kimchi and making separate dishes for me like seafood pancake (pah-jyhun) with coconut or almond flour. It means the world to me. Even though I felt physically amazing, a good amount of my energy went to self-control and resentment for having to be on this diet. I hope I didn’t drive you guys too crazy.
If anyone has any questions or needs a little encouragement, feel free to contact me or ask any questions. I know it can be a difficult and daunting lifestyle change so community and support is a must.