Posted by: A Part of the Solution | March 17, 2011

A Lenten Season

I was raised in the Church. Though I no longer participate–and have not for several decades, I have something like a liturgical calendar embedded in me. I found it wholly appropriate to be in Madrid for Carnivale, given that I’d made a commitment to myself, before I left, to do something about my health when I got home. Not only is this the Christian season of Lent, this is my personal Lenten season–wholly, and freely, self-imposed.

As much as I love to eat, drink and be merry, I have long suspected I needed to take action on my own behalf. What could it be? Well you might ask. About three years ago, I contracted Lyme’s disease whilst walking home from work on Sligo Creek Parkway Trail in suburban Maryland. I’d taken a course of antibiotics a month and a half before I came down with Lyme’s, and Lyme’s is treated with a three week long broad spectrum antibiotic. I recovered from the Lyme’s (I hope) well enough, but lately I’ve had sufficient symptoms evident (you really don’t want the list–trust me) which I could no longer ignore. My current problem is Candida. Yes, Candida. That yeast which lives in every single body helping to sort out what there is and what there should be.

Sadly, with my body “nuked out” by the antibiotics, I believe I’ve developed Candidiasis–and overgrowth of this otherwise benign yeast. Now, I don’t have the clinical level of Candidiasis; but I have been experiencing a number of symptoms which point to the chronic (or sub-clinical) level of this condition. The recommended course of treatment (by alternative practitioners, naturally) involves a restrictive diet to starve out the yeast attended by a careful course of probiotics to replace the good stuff lost when I was combating Lyme’s.

Hence my Lenten season. How Lenten is it? No alcohol, sugar, grains of any sort (for the first 2-3 weeks), fruit, beans, starchy vegetables, fermented foods, dairy (again for the first 2-3 weeks, then I’ll be “allowed” fresh yogurt), vinegars, corn, soy, seeds, any seafood likely to be high in mercury (to which the Candida yeast is attracted), coffee or tea (organic coffee in small amounts is “allowed”–Hallelujah), and peanuts.

As you can see, it won’t just be the Candidiasis I’m starving out. There’s not a whole lot left in the edible kingdoms for me to put on my plate just at present. Lenten indeed. And the worse given how much I love to cook–let alone eat. After the initial clean out, I’m instructed to reintroduce gluten-free whole grains one at time as well as some fruits and the legume family. If everything goes well, I should be clear and clean of my overgrowth in anywhere from 2  to 15 months. Authorities differ pretty widely on what it takes to get the yeast beasties back in balance.

Cheerfully, this radical dietary approach to dealing with my condition will at the very leasts encourage me to develop yet another set of recipes for people eating from a restricted spectrum. And it might even leave me well and sound and vital!



  1. This is exactly what I have been battling since 2005 (and the reason that I am still gluten/yeast free and try to avoid sugars, fungus & do not drink)! Though I have not fully recovered, I am MUCH healthier than I was when I self diagnosed (after taking antibiotics for a good 6 years straight)! The good news is that I have been able to add many foods back into my diet and am much healthier now than I have been in a long time. The not so good news is that I should go back onto the ever detested diet you speak of for my own good as I have begun (yet another) cleanse just today in hopes to further my recovery.

    • I hear it, sister. I hear it. It’s early spring, and a great time to clear out the system. Pity about what a pain in the parts the clearing out is!

  2. So…you’re going to be living on mushrooms, lettuce, meat, and carrots?

    • No mushrooms either. It’s a fungal/yeast/mold combo platter I’m trying to eliminate from my body. Carrots are suspect, having a high glycemic index. It’s more like leafy greens, alliums and meat for right now.

  3. I did this for several months about 3 years ago. My advice is to do this gradually and carefully. I would do some anti candida herbs (oregano oil, garlic, oregon grape root) or you won’t get much result but do them gradually because die off is unbelievably awful. I got so sick and lost weight way too fast. I felt really good when the first several weeks of die off symptoms were over but I still looked like hell and people started to tell me so. When I look at pictures of myself back then, it’s disturbing. I tend to do things in the extreme so maybe this won’t happen to you. I do think it is worth it and you might uncover some hidden food allergies in the process. Good luck!

  4. I would also go ahead and let yourself have one piece of sour fruit a day like a granny smith apple or a grapefruit. This didn’t slow the process down for me in any way.

    • Cool. I’ve been eying the sack of grapefruit in the pantry covetously. That’s very good news indeed.

  5. Thank goodness you can still eat meat – this would be tough going as a vegan diet, I think. Good luck good luck good luck!!

    • Thanks. I’ll get all the way into it and all the way out of it the best I can. And I’ll be bringing recipes with me when I return from the food underworld at the end of my sentence.

  6. I thought of one more thing that helps you feel better but you might already know this since I know you research everything like I do. Lukewarm water with lemon juice in the am helps the liver eliminate toxins. It would also be great to drink dandelion tea and eat lots of dandelion greens to help your liver along.

    • I need to put lemons on the grocery list. That sounds like just the thing. I was thinking about nettles actually, but dandelions are good.

      • Definitely nettles too. They will help detox and are also good for your kidneys.

  7. I kept busy entertaining the press today and this evening (Eric Bond from the Takoma/Silver Spring/&tc Voice was up). I had to stay focused on answering his questions, so I didn’t really have the time I would have liked to sulk and fuss and whine. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of hours in the day tomorrow where I might find it in me to make myself unpleasant. Or I might just get on with trying to feel like a person again. Which would be so swell–otherwise I really never would do something like this to myself. I like me, and I’m accustomed to believing in my own good taste and appropriate choices. But there you go. It’s time to take a break; and this is that appropriate time of the year.

  8. Any benefits yet? Or is it too soon to tell?

    • I am much less pressed by my sinus, my lame knee has been troubling me hardly at all, and I’m sleeping much better. I sure am tired of salad and big piles of meat, but it’s undeniably working.

  9. It was affecting your KNEE?

    • The candidiasis messes with joints. My knee is a pre-existing problem. The candidiasis made it worse.

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