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!