Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Here we go again

Yeah, so um, I haven't said anything in a long time, but I think it's time to start again. To be clear, I didn't really have anything to say for the last year or so because my experiment with the anti-Candida diet made me healthier than I'd been in years.

So if the anti-Candida diet made me feel so great, why start blogging about Candida again?

As you may already know, earlier this year I spent seven months walking from the Pacific Ocean (Santa Monica Pier) to the Atlantic Ocean (Coney Island, NYC). That ended up being about 3,463 miles, during which I carried a backpack weighing, on average, about 55 lbs. Throughout the walk, I punished my body to an extent that you simply cannot comprehend unless you've done what I did. At the same time, I didn't eat well; I couldn't eat well, mostly because I had very little money, relying on the kindness of strangers to keep me fed.

Before I began, I wondered how the walk would affect my body's ability to keep Candida in check. On one hand, I thought the walk might make me healthier because I'd be taking in so much more oxygen than usual, which seems to be one of the major enemies of Candida. On the other hand, I knew I'd be putting myself through unbelievable stress while rarely finding an opportunity to eat the right kinds of food.

Thankfully, I can't say I ever felt a return of Candida overgrowth during my walk, which I finished on September 12. However, once I returned to the comfort of home to recover from the walk, things changed pretty quickly.

There were so many new kinds of pain following the walk. My body's muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves stopped functioning how they once did, making it difficult for me just to stand up and walk, even without the backpack. I couldn't move very well and I couldn't feel much of anything in my legs and feet. At the same time, I felt stupid all the time. Well, not necessarily stupid, but I often had a really difficult time remembering simple, common words when speaking. Or when updating my Facebook status, it was hard for me to write a simple sentence that made any sense.

For weeks I worried that the walk may have fried my brain a little. Y'see, once I descended from the Colorado Rockies on May 14, almost every day was miserably hot until late August, when I reached Pennsylvania. I had to deal with ridiculously hot days and very hot nights almost every day for months, and it definitely took its toll on me. Couple that with the work it takes to carry a heavy backpack nearly 20 miles a day, and it's not a stretch to think I may have damaged my brain.

After the walk, distracted by all the pain and weird new handicaps while trying to figure out how to recover from a unique kind of bodily punishment that almost no one else has ever felt, I think I failed to recognize some familiar feelings, like the feeling of being stupid. Then, a couple weeks ago, I got a headache that wouldn't go away. It felt like a sinus-related headache, so I mixed up a saltwater solution and performed a nasal irrigation. It didn't help.

Dealing with the pain of a constant headache while feeling stupid all the time, I started wondering if maybe these things were Candida-related. Consequently, I cut down on sugar and made some minor changes to my diet, but I didn't fully commit to a new anti-Candida diet because the anti-Candida diet takes a lot of work and discipline that I just wasn't ready to give.

Eventually I started noticing a lot of stomach growls. Not the normal kind, either. No, this was the Candida kind. At about the same time, I recognized a familiar pain in my jaw.

That was the turning point.

To you, jaw pain may seem completely unrelated to diet and the digestive system. But I've been there before, and I vividly remember the intense jaw pain that disappeared shortly after I committed to an anti-Candida diet a year and a half ago.

With this renewed pain in my jaw, I began to remember that I'd also experienced the unexplained feelings of stupidity back in 2009, when I battled Candida overgrowth. I'd forgotten all about the feeling of stupidity, but now I started making the connections. So interestingly, this jaw pain is what made me realize I NEED to get back on the diet.

But the anti-Candida diet is so hard to follow. Other than eggs and chicken, it seems like there's nothing else you can eat. And it takes so much work to prepare these foods, especially chicken. Additionally, it's so easy to get sick of eggs, plus they don't fill you up. Considering these factors, as well as some others, once I made up my mind to try the diet again, I didn't think I'd have enough discipline to stay committed.

Fortunately, my symptoms were pretty minor compared to my first Candida fight, so I reasoned that I could take a sorta half-assed approach this time. I decided I'd stop eating the Milky Ways and other really bad Candida foods, but I'd still allow myself to eat some of the non-allowed foods, like an occasional bowl of Corn Flakes.

With my half-assed approach, though, the headaches and stomach noises and confusion continued. I was not beating the Candida.

So a few days ago, I decided I absolutely must make the commitment again because I don't enjoy being miserable. I realized I have to dive in to the anti-Candida diet once again, and I have to discipline myself at least until my current symptoms are gone. And right now that's what I'm doing. I'm back in the middle of a battle, and I'm going to win again by attacking the problem.

* * * * *

If you are having trouble committing to an anti-Candida diet, I urge you not to give up. You can't just change all your eating habits in an instant. You're going to screw up, OK. So when it happens, give yourself a break and stay focused on your objective. If you break down and eat a candy bar after a couple days of the anti-Candida diet, not all is lost. It's merely a setback, and you get to start again. Except once you start again, you'll be stronger and more disciplined than the first time you started. This time you'll be able to go four or five days before you break down and eat that candy bar. And by then you will have already noticed your cravings for sweets have diminished big-time, which makes it that much easier to stay true to the diet. Before you know it, you'll be feeling better than you've ever felt.

You just have to train yourself. You have to create new habits. Once you do that, it'll be relatively easy to get the job done.

It's been only a few days since I resumed the anti-Candida diet, but I already feel better. I don't feel GOOD yet, but I do feel better. And there are still a few rules I haven't followed as closely as I should. Like drinking water. I've made an effort to drink a lot of water, but I haven't been gonzo about it. So I'm going to work on that in the coming days.

But here's what I have been doing pretty well:
  • Eating foods that don't feed yeast (mostly eggs and chicken, with peppers and garlic);
  • Not eating foods that do feed yeast; in other words, NOT CHEATING.
  • Taking a couple shots of Bragg apple cider vinegar each day;
  • Consuming a couple spoonfuls of chopped raw garlic each day;
  • I've also begun making an effort to eat a few spoonfuls of coconut oil each day
  • Yesterday I bought some Stonyfield Farms plain yogurt, which I'll be eating at least once a day, adding chopped strawberries and a packet of stevia to each bowl.
There may be a few other things that I'm forgetting right now, but I think I've listed the biggies. I should be exercising as well, but I admit I haven't been doing that. (I'm a little burned out after walking across a continent.)

And here are the biggest signs showing the anti-Candida diet is already helping me conquer my current battle with Candida:

  1. I found the motivation to write all these words;
  2. I currently possess enough mental clarity to have written a fairly long blog post, which I couldn't have done just a few days ago;
  3. This one is for you to decide: Hopefully I've made sense in this post and my words have been easy to follow. If so, it's more proof that the anti-Candida diet will help you with your problems, as long as you put in the work to do it right.
Chances are that I'll probably do some re-drafting in the next few days, to make this post as helpful as possible. Hopefully you got something from it.

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