Here is a brief overview of what the cleanse entailed, since I know not all of you have been following along:
- A detox week where basically all you could eat was green veggies and eggs. This is the week you started taking a liver detox supplement and continued it through the entire cleanse. THIS WAS HARD. No coffee, no carbs, no meat. There was literally nothing to eat besides kale and avocados. It got old in less than 24 hours. I survived on nuts, which I’m still not sure if they were 100% sanctioned as ok. They might have been acceptable as cheat food. Well, for me they were a staple. And remained a staple for the rest of the cleanse.
- After the detox week, you could relax SLIGHTLY and include some very specific grains and meats in your diet. Still no caffeine, sugar and basically access to only 5% of carbs. No fruits and no starchy veggies either…doable but still – in today’s world – super restrictive.
- After a week on the new slightly relaxed diet, which you are supposed to adhere to for the rest of the cleanse, you started probiotics, in addition to your detox supplement.
- A week later, on top of everything you were already doing, you added anti-fungal supplements.
At this point, you continue on for a month or two with all the thousands of supplements that you are taking 3-6 times daily (it gets old fast) and the diet that is suuuper veggie heavy and restrictive.
Sounds like fun right?
Well, it was really hard for me and I’ll share more in a second.
I do want to say, having done it once now (it was my first time) if I was going to do it again, I would do it differently – in some cases, very differently. I’ll leave that to a separate post though.
Here’s what I personally learned and got out of the cleanse – not holding back. PS, I will talk about poo at some point.
Let’s start with the bad, then do the weird, and then, if you’re still reading, we’ll end on a good note with the good!
Bad things about the Candida Cleanse
As much as the cleanse was good, it was also really bad.
1 – My eating disorder resurfaced
I used to have an eating disorder and one of the things that really helped it to go away was giving up ALL control and judgement around food. I ate as though everything was ok and healthy (totally dropped the labels “good” food and “bad” food and healthy and unhealthy) and responded to cravings until they stopped even if the results were eating sweet potato fries for dinner every single night for months (this is true). At some point it all balanced out and what my body craved was nutritious food with a few indulgences here and there.
I ate this way up until recently when I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. IC is an inflammatory autoimmune condition – in this way it is very similar to acne. After my diagnosis, I had to drop a few foods that are especially aggravating, but it made my bladder feel so much better, and my ED was not triggered. I then made the connection between extreme fatigue and a gluten sensitivity and eliminated gluten as well. I felt sooo much better and my ED was not triggered.
I will not go into details about exactly HOW my ED manifested itself again, but it was not pretty and really scary.
So then why did the Cleanse trigger my ED and not the previous dietary changes?
Two reasons, I think. First of all, the previous changes I made in order to relieve ACUTE AND SEVERE DISCOMFORT. The discomfort was bad enough that I was willing, even eager to eat the way I should. Also, when I changed the way I ate, the discomfort went away almost immediately, so there was some pretty strong positive reinforcement.
Second of all, compared to the drastic restrictions of the Cleanse, giving up a few acidic foods for the IC and glutenous foods (which I did not eat a lot of in the first place) for my fatigue seemed really minor and sustainable and achievable. The Cleanse was just too restrictive and my psyche rebelled.
I DO want to do this cleanse again, BUT I am DEFINITELY changing the “diet” when I do.
2 – I felt nauseous and hungover
OK, to be fair, when I changed my DIET, I felt GREAT. But when I added the anti-fungal supplements (3 weeks in) everything went to hell in a handbasket. I experienced some symptoms of die-off (only for the first 2 days after starting anti-fungals, so not too bad but still 2 straight days of feeling a really strong hangover = sucks) AND about 1-2 weeks into the anti-fungals I started to feel really nauseous after taking them. I was taking them 2x/day, so every damn day I felt sick for about 1/2 an hour am and pm. Such boo.
3 – I felt grumpy and unhinged
I don’t think we realize how much of a soothing and regulating effect food has on us until we decide to throw a wrench in the spokes. I realized I was emotionally addicted to things like snacking and going out to eat. OH – ALSO COFFEE. When I couldn’t do those things, I lost it. I began to crave other addictive substances like alcohol and cigarettes (fun fact about yours truly – I used to smoke!).
To clarify, I do NOT think it is at all bad to be “addicted” to certain food rituals and routines – I think this can be a very safe and healthy way to self-soothe (depending on what those rituals and routines are exactly. Binging – not so good. Sunday dinner with the whole family – too legit to quit).
I began to obsess over food a little (a very typical reaction to severe restriction) AND I ate way too many nuts because it is very hard to feel full and satisfied when all you are eating is leaves. Which brings me to:
4 – I gained weight
(And I did NOT need to). I am not a waifish little sprite. My body had a beautiful equilibrium going with what I ate and how often I ate and I felt very comfortable and trusting of my food-body relationship. Then I cleansed and and my behaviors, routines and food items all changed. This upheaval was not handled super gracefully by either my mind or my body.
Also, all the nuts.
Weird things I didn’t expect from the Candida Cleanse
1 – My acne…changed.
When you’ve been obsessed with your own skin and acne for as long as I have, you are incredibly intimate with your skin and what it does and why. All my breakout patterns were familiar to me and I knew exactly what was causing them: blackheads on cheeks – too much alcohol. Tiny bumps on forehead and temples – too much stress. A cyst here and there on or near my chin – hormonal + lax diet.
Those were the ONLY type of breakouts I had been getting for some time. When I went on the cleanse, my breakout patterns changed pretty drastically. And I still don’t really know why I’m breaking out the way I am now, but I have some guesses. Here’s what happened:
My face cleared up beautifully (more on this in the “good” section) with the exception of a few zits during the cleanse around my upper lip and nose. I NEVER get zits there. So weird. That usually indicates gut issues – which makes sense b/c the Candida Cleanse is 100% about getting your gut re-balanced and clear of yeast overgrowth.
The second place I started breaking out was on my neck right below my jaw – big cysts – and not a small amount either. It almost seems like my hormonal acne – which used to manifest on my chin, inexplicably relocated to my neck – with a vengeance.
I also got a few random cysts on my chest and back! Whoa – too weird!
We often talk about hormonal acne being on the chin and jaw BUT neck and chest are ALSO places where hormonal acne can show up. So what does it mean?
Well, more and more I’m seeing that certain types of acne are the result of certain COMBINATIONS of factors in the body. Like, I get blackheads on my cheeks from too much alcohol – one type of toxin. And I get cysts on my chin from too much bad estrogen in my body – another type of toxin. These toxins ALONE are not enough to cause my acne. They have to be COMBINED with lax diet (too much sugar, caffeine, etc.) to show on my skin.
BUT – the Candida Cleanse created a new combo of factors. Even as I cleaned up my diet to perfection, I added a THIRD toxin to the mix and everything changed. The third toxin I am referring to is the chemicals the Candida releases when it dies – these chemicals are so toxic that if enough Candida yeasts die all at once you can feel it in your body – it feels super icky like a hangover.
It seems like the toxin overload from the Candida yeast dying manifested as neck, chest and back acne. From my experience, in MY body, it seems like the MORE toxins are moving through my body – getting cleaned out – the more my acne moves down my body – from my face, to my neck and eventually to chest/back.
I think this can be why sometimes guys break out from (seemingly) exercising too much. In that case it is a combo of: all the detoxing happening due to the movement and sweating PLUS all the hormonal activity from stressing the body out too much. Just my two cents.
Last note – the key is toxins MOVING through your body. A lot of times toxins stay in stasis in our body – they can get stored and tucked away in plenty of places like a ticking time bomb. The key is getting them to LEAVE. And when that happens, then we can see acne – which is actually a GOOD sign – a sign of detox and toxin elimination, of things rebalancing and changing and happening.
We’re getting off topic here, but basically this was a beautiful and profound experimental result that showed me JUST how much diet and supplements can affect our skin – my skin and my acne before and after the cleanse are like night and day different.
2 – My poop changed
Bear with me here – poop is fascinating. And it can tell you a TON about your health and especially your gut health. So watching my poop during the cleanse was fun. What DIDN’T it do should really be the question. I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that at every stage of the cleanse, my bowel movements changed – sometimes drastically. This gave me additional insight into what was going on in my gut and body.
3 – Odd craving patterns
You would think ditching sugar would be a big deal and I was expecting some hardcore cravings. But there were barely any…for sugar or carbs. I did really crave feeling full and hearty/dense foods. I also craved alcohol a ton – way more than is usual for me.
Do you realize a lot of our cravings are actually created by the bacteria in our gut?? NOT our bodies and NOT our minds and NOT our emotional addictions. The bacteria make you eat the food THEY want. This made me suspect that alcohol is a substance the Candida love – it wreaks havoc on the good bacteria and feeds the bad AND loads the liver down needlessly.
Thanks to my coffee replacement concoction, I was able to transition from coffee to herbal beverage pretty seamlessly and in the process, ditch caffeine! Also oddly, there were no caffeine withdrawal symptoms – which I usually experience pretty strongly for like 6 days straight. Not sure why, but I’ll take it! Maaaayyybee because my diet was so clean? That would be cool!
4 – Eating veggies is a spiritual act
This was weird. I hadn’t realize what a profound change I would experience with eating so many veggies. First of all, grocery shopping was soooo fun. To me veggies are beautiful and interesting and this cleanse gave me the push I needed to experiment with veggies I previously hadn’t included in my repertoire. It felt really, seriously GOOD to be buying so many of them. I definitely think this was my visceral body speaking.
Instead of eating leftovers or snacks or pre-prepared meals as per usual, I cooked all my midday and evening meals. Nothing fancy – usually just a bunch of veggies in a saute pan cooked for a few minutes just till they soften with some sauces/spices added for flavor. Eating was BETTER. I don’t know exactly how to explain it but preparing meals from fresh and gorgeous produce made me feel connected to my food, excited about my food and about my resourcefulness and more peaceful and alive and enriched.
It was a profoundness and a goodness I had definitely not expected and made me think about exactly how much LIFE we are missing out on eating the way we do today – what with restaurants, takeout, fast food and processed food.
I still think I haven’t done justice to it with my poor attempts at articulating it but suffice it to say: it was so cool…and that is weird.
Since this is borderline a good thing, let’s move on to (finally) the good!
Good things about the Candida Cleanse
1 – My body LOVED what I was doing
To clarify – what exactly was I doing?
- no alcohol
- no sugar or crap
- no caffeine
- approx 5x the amount of veggies I used to eat
My energy was way higher. I didn’t have post-meal energy slumps or bloated/over-full feelings. As you saw above, my heart and soul really responded to the increased presence of veggies. I didn’t feel groggy or tired. I was able to wake up earlier. It was awesome.
2 – The skin on my face became super clear and spotless
I expected some changes but I didn’t expect this awesome or this fast. Within 2 weeks my skin had cleared up beautifully. Beyond stoked with how clear and gorgeous my skin is now! Even my neck acne (which came on hard in the first half of the cleanse) is gone. And even though I have been cheating more and more often, it seems like my body has been reset and is in a place where a few cheats here and there are totally fine. Which brings me to:
3 – My food choices no longer trigger acne like they used to
That’s the beauty of a cleanse – if your body is severely unbalanced, every food choice you make is going to show and it might feel like it is so unfair that others can eat exactly what they want and you have to be so careful with your diet and EVEN then, you still get breakouts. But – if your body is strong and balanced, it can deal with a more diverse diet just fine.
I suspected this before, but now I am convinced: a body out of balance is much more sensitive to food choices than one that is healthy. Now that I took the time to heal my gut and Candida imbalance, as well as gave my liver and kidneys a chance to rest and rejuvenate, the reward for all the restriction for a few months is the ability to be much more free with my food without consequences moving forward.
Of course, this does NOT mean going crazy and being super unhealthy. What it does mean is not having to worry so much about diet – just doing your best and enjoying life, knowing that your skin will stay healthy.
4 – Food rut shake-up
As time consuming as it was to shift my diet so intensely, it was also really, really fun to try new recipes and foods. I learned a lot of cool new cooking techniques (like coating fish with rice flour before cooking with oil in a skillet to get extra juicy flesh and a crispy outside), discovered a lot of cool new spices and seasonings, and learned a few new things about food that I didn’t know (like Rutabaga is intensely anti-Candida/anti-fungal and it makes a great substitute for potatoes – mashed rutabaga, rutabaga fries, etc.).
It also became clear that I could eat a lot more veggies than I was – and pleasurably too. That was a fun and rewarding discovery! I had gotten out of the habit before the cleanse. I liked it, and my body really liked it – I could tell because of my energy levels and bowel movements. 🙂 AND my skin!
So, there you have it!
Coming soon – my post on what was the MOST effective part of the whole cleanse, what I would leave out doing this a second time, and other changes/tweaks that FOR ME PERSONALLY would have made this easier AND more effective.