Saturday, January 15, 2011


Today is day eight of the anti-candida diet that my naturopath Nesreen put me on. Yeast, or candida, is a fungus present in everyone's digestive system that thrives on simple sugars. So for this diet you can't eat refined flour, sugar, juice, maple syrup, or even fruit. And also no kombucha tea, no soy sauce, and no unfiltered vinegar.

According to my doctor, Dr. Martin Ross, Lyme Disease and yeast reinforce each other, and being on the antibiotics harms good intestinal bacteria, giving the yeast room to multiply. That's why before Dr. Ross started me on antibiotics, he put me on an anti-yeast medication. Now I've always assumed that I'm good in the yeast department because for years, even years before my Lyme diagnosis, I ate no sugar and no white flour, and I had no yeast symptoms.

But I've always had a few sweet things, as long as I saw the nutritional value: ginger bread sweetened with molasses and honey, pomegranate juice for the antioxidants, and recently, as I've been to busy writing to bake, and the Flying Apron gluten-free, vegan, organic sustainable bakery opened a few blocks from my house, I've been relying on their muffins (sweetened with maple syrup) to get me through most days. Actually, the amount of maple syrup (for the trace minerals) and frozen berries (for the antioxidants) and dark chocolate (for the antioxidants) I consumed each day was creeping up and up.

But that was OK, because I love vegetables above all else, and compared to everyone else I know, who eat cookies and ice cream and drink vodka, I am a food saint. Virtue is practically my middle name.

Or so I thought until Nesreen brought me down to earth a week ago Friday: No fruit or sweeteners for one to two weeks.

It just so happened The Poet had started a similar diet, for different reasons, a week earlier. So I went home and told him we'd do the diet together.

"That's great, sweetie, it's a really good diet," he said. "Let's do it together until the end of the month." Without thinking, I agreed.

After one week, I now know I was never, ever, a food saint before this. This no fruit thing is the toughest diet I've ever done. Before now I've stopped eating the aforementioned sugar and white flour, and wheat, and even for long stretches soy, or dairy, or chicken or eggs. None of it was hard. This is.

Without anything sweet at all, without even vinegar or soy sauce to flavor your food, time moves differently. It slows down, it feels undifferentiated. Weirdly, the savory foods I've always loved-- kale sauted with garlic, goat cheese, buckwheat noodles flavored with sesame oil and sea salt-- just aren't that exciting without the contrasting splashes of sweet throughout the day.

On the other hand, I slept really really well this week. Nine or ten hours every day. And my energy was even and steady, my concentration clear throughout the day, and yes, when I went dancing, I was spontaneous and graceful. I truly had one the of best nights for dancing I've had in a very, very long time.

So Nesreen said try one or two weeks, and The Poet said let's do it for three. As of today, I've decided to go for two weeks.

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