I’d been thinking of starting vegan Candida diet (the cleanse) for 2-3 years already before I finally decided to give it go in August 2016. And so began the journey on restoring my health naturally. You’ll be able to read about my experiences and research results from a series of articles:
Why did I need to go on vegan Candida diet?
Fortunately my Candida overgrowth symptoms had not been too severe, so that I’d been able to postpone starting the diet. However, they were inconvenient enough to finally take the critical step. Firstly, I could feel the candida symptoms where most women with candida overgrowth do. Secondly, there were other concerns (especially within the preceding 10 months):
- cracks in the corners of my mouth that just would not heal,
- frequent upper respiratory infections,
- hay fever, and
- blood sugar spikes.
At some point I began to notice that when I managed to keep my blood sugar stable for a day or two the corners of my mouth would start to heal. I had been trying all kinds of salves to spread on the corners, but nothing really helped. Then I found one with anti-fungal properties and noticed improvement straight away. So, I guess this was the final trigger to jump on board.
Why was I so reluctant to start with vegan Candida Diet?
I hadn’t done much research by then, but I knew that all fruits, especially dried fruits would be off the list. And there I was having fruit smoothies for first breakfast, muffins that were sweetened with bananas and dried fruits, snacking on fruits, and of course banana ice-creams as after dinner dessert. Not thinking about it too deeply, it felt like everything would have been taken away from me. It all just seamed too overwhelming and too much to deal with.
However, then I thought that this was exactly what I felt when I changed my diet to whole food plant-based back in 2012. Also back then the change seemed crazy and overwhelming. However, I did it nevertheless because my health was more important than any short-term inconvenience.
The key is to concentrate on what you CAN eat rather than wasting your time on thinking about things you’d miss. Overcrowd your menu!
How did I get started on vegan Candida Diet?
Firstly, I did my research. I read many related websites and found a very good book by Linda Allen, Yeast Infection No More. Yeast Infection No More is also available in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.
In 2018 I stumbled upon the ultimate guide to beating yeast infection – a very thorough 700-page book The Candida Crusher by naturopath Eric Bakker from New Zealand. He has successfully treated thousands of patients over the past 25 years and I found great value from his book.
Furthermore, I was also looking for vegan Candida Diet Meal Plans, but failed to find any. So, I did the same as with switching to plant-based diet in 2012 – I created my own balanced plant-based meal plans using the help of an online nutritional program. I’d insert every food I ate and recipe I created making sure I was getting all the necessary nutrients. By the way, I’m still doing that from time to time as I’m living Candida free. It’s important to monitor what you eat to keep your blood sugar stable and have that Candida under control.
The Five Main Principals of Vegan Candida Diet
There are five main principals to follow if you want your Candida diet to work:
1. Eat foods that don’t feed Candida and don’t eat those that do feed Candida.
Foods to Avoid on Candida diet cleanse:
- Fruits – all sweet fruits and berries, including dried, fresh and canned + fruit juices.
- Starchy vegetables – potatoes, beet, yams, sweet potato, corn, peas, parsnips, carrots.
- Refined grains and corn – any products made of white flours and white rice as well as corn.
- GMO soy products. Non-GMO, unsweetened soy products are fine. Prefer them fermented, i.e. natto, tempeh, miso.
- Mushrooms and moulds – mushrooms can cause inflammatory reactions, if you have Candida. Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi and Maitake are fine to consume.
- Some nuts – cashews, peanuts and Pistachios as they may contain mould.
- Alcohol – any bevereges containing alcohol.
- Sugars – all syrups and artificial sweeteners, except stevia and xylitol.
- Additives and preservatives – citric acid, anything you don’t know.
- Some beverages – coffee, black and green tea, any drinks that contains sugars, i.e. any drinks other than plain water, herbal tea or chicory.
- Condiments – read the labels really carefully and look for sugars or any other additives that you don’t know. As a rule, it’s not possible to find a suitable condiment from a store when on Candida Diet. You can check from organic stores for natural products or make your own.
- Vinegar – all vinegars except apple cider vinegar.
- Yeast – brewer’s, baker’s and even nutritional yeast.
Foods to Eat on Candida diet
- Non-starchy vegetables – asparagus, avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, raw garlic, kale, lettuce, olives, onions, rutabaga, spinach, summer squashes, swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips.
- Gluten-free grains – millet, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, gluten-free oats and oat bran.
- Nuts and seeds – almonds, coconut meat and milk, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, poppy seeds.
- Legumes – non-GMO and unsweetened soy products (milk, tofu, tempeh) without any unwanted additives.
- Yogurts and plant-based milks – anything unsweetened based on non-GMO soy, coconut, hazelnuts, almonds, quinoa, millet.
- Seaweed – nori, kelp, wakame, dulse, sea lettuce.
- Herbs, spices and seasoning – apple cider vinegar (organic), basil, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, lemon and lime, juice, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sea salt, thyme, turmeric.
- Beverages – water, chicory root coffee, herbal teas.
- Sweeteners – stevia and xylitol. Go easy on those two though – don’t eat only sweetened meals.
Foods that most people tolerate also during Candida cleanse diet:
- Low-glycemic fruits and berries (blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, green apples) – in some cases low glycemic fruits and berries would be fine if eaten separately on an empty stomach away from fatty foods. Read more from my post Living Candida Free After the Cleanse.
- Legumes – most people tolerate lower glycemic legumes also in the cleanse stage. Go for unhulled lentils, mung beans, black beans, peas, and chickpeas. Soak and cook them yourself as canned versions tend to have higher glycemic load. If you possibly can, sprout all legumes before cooking. Apparently sprouting decreases carbohydrate content and increases protein and soluble fibre content of grains and legumes. I created recipes like Mung Bean Porridge and Vegan Paleo Brownies to enjoy sprouted legumes.
- Grains that contain gluten and glutinous foods – rye, wheat, spelt, barley, kamut, farro. If you don’t have gluten intolerance, you should be fine consuming small amounts of whole grains containing gluten. The key is not to go overboard here!
- Starchy vegetables – many people might tolerate potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes in small amounts, but it’d be better to avoid those foods for at least 2-3 weeks because people tend to overeat them compensating all the sugary foods that have been cut out. Having lower glycemic load, carrots and beetroot are better tolerated. However, prefer them raw, steamed or stir-fried as baking and boiling increase GL.
NB! Should you decide to continue with the items in grey area and don’t get better, cut them out completely for at least 2-3 weeks. Some people might need even few months. (updated in July 2018)
Finally, it’s not only about what you eat, but also HOW you eat! My main suggestions:
- chew your food properly as digestion begins in mouth;
- concentrate on eating, be mindful;
- don’t be engaged in other activities while eating (TV, phone, iPad, book, emails etc.);
- don’t eat if you’re not hungry and stop eating when you’re almost full.
2. Taking Supplements
Antifungals help kill candida. Start antifungal therapy at least a week after the beginning of Candida Diet, otherwise you can experience severe candida die-off symptoms.
Natural and more commonly found antifungals are aloe vera, cinnamon, cloves, coconut oil/meat/milk, garlic, ginger, grapefruit seed extract, olive leaf extract, oregano oil, turmeric.
Candida-fighting foods – coconut oil/meat/milk, garlic (2-4 raw cloves a day), onions, seaweed, ginger, olive oil/olives, lemon and lime juice, pumpkin seeds, rutabaga, and cayenne pepper.
Probiotics help maintain healthy balance of gut flora and therefore support your immune system. They also help restore correct acidity in your gut after antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics make your gut too alkaline because they kill the acid-producing bacteria.
It’s important to fill your gut with healthy bacteria, like Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria Bifidum, so that there is no room left for Candida yeast.
I took the following probiotic: Garden of Life Primal Defence Probiotic http://amzn.to/2t943MW (amazon.com), http://amzn.to/2u8JNzf (amazon.co.uk). Note: this probiotics supplement is whole food, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian probiotic supplement for a balanced, health internal environment. The probiotics are cultured in dairy, which is generally consumed during the fermentation process. For those looking for 100% vegan supplement, I’d recommend Royal Organica http://amzn.to/2DHtVWi (amazon.com).
Again, it is advised to wait at least one week after you start your course of antifungals to avoid severe die-off symptoms.
Probiotic foods – yogurt (non-GMO soy or coconut), fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. You need to make sure that it is raw and not pasteurized as pasteurizing kills all the good bacteria.
Prebiotic foods don’t contain any good bacteria, but they help the good bacteria to survive and grow. Chicory root contains an excellent prebiotic named inulin – so, have chicory root coffee with almond milk or non-GMO unsweetened soy milk and sweeten it with stevia or xylitol.
Get more suggestions on vitamins, essential oils and other supplements to support healthy gut flora from the books mentioned above or from my Candida Cleanse Meal Plan.
3. Exercise to Beat Candida Overgrowth
Your body won’t get better if you sit in an armchair all day. So, get out there and at least do your 8 000-10 000 steps daily. Yoga and pilates are also very good choices for you to start with.
4. Stress Management
You can eat the healthiest diet in the world, but you won’t beat Candida overgrowth if you’re stressed out. Incorporate meditation and yoga into your daily regime. Furthermore, deal with negative people as well as activities (it might be the job that you hate).
Finally, sleep is very important part of stress management – if you stay up until 2am, your body will always be stressed and you won’t get better no matter what you do. Aim to go to bed between 10:00-10:30pm or earlier every night. How much sleep anyone needs is individual, but most people require 7-8 hours.
5. Reintroducing Foods Properly
It is crucial to reintroduce fruits and starchy veggies gradually, one-by-one starting from the items that have lower glycemic load. By all means, you can’t rush it or you’ll fall back several steps! Get more information on reintroduction from The Candida Crusher or my Reintroduction Meal Plan.
6. Sticking to Healthy Wholesome Lifestyle
You’re wrong if you think that you can go back to your old ways after feeling better. After all, those where the habits that got you the illness in the first place.
If you truly want to change you lifestyle for good, you’ll find my book Plant-Based Made Easy very helpful as it contains lots of practical tips on transitioning to healthy whole food diet. Be aware that many recipes in this book are not Candida diet friendly. However, most are easily adjustable.
What did I experience during my first week on vegan Candida diet?
Although I did not start with antifungals and probiotics straight away, I still experienced Candida die-off symptoms:
- Headaches for 4 days starting from the second day. It was quite bad for the first two days, but I still managed to do without any painkillers. On the third and fourth day it already got milder and was quite bearable.
- Dizziness and lack of energy. Part of it was certainly due to the fact that I just couldn’t eat as many calories as I was supposed to. Starches and fruits give a lot of energy, but as these were taken away I needed to get used to new quantities and eating habits. Being already quite thin, I even lost a kilo in the beginning, but gained it back pretty quickly.
On my third week I thought it’d be safe to have some red beans with my lunch, but I was wrong. I experienced some itching the next day, which went away pretty quickly as I didn’t try to reintroduce any new foods. To be on the safe side, I waited until six weeks were up before trying to bring something back onto my plate. In order to learn from my mistakes, I developed a gradual plan to reintroduce foods (see my meal plan that reintroduces foods).
Finally, read on vegan Candida diet meal planning – what exactly, how often and in what order I’ve been eating. More importantly, follow me on Instagram for tricks and hacks on vegan Candida diet and subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Facebook not to miss any posts.
I’m so happy to see people getting real help and relief from my meal plans and I treasure the relationships I’ve formed with many of them! Thank you!
This article was revised on Jan 19, 2018.
Disclaimer: this information is based on my own research and personal experience and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Users should seek their own professional counsel for any medical condition or before starting or altering any exercise or diet plan. It is your responsibility to know your health and nutritional needs.