Before I start telling you what happened with me a couple of months ago, I am writing this because I have found many of the things people wrote on the internet extremely helpful and I want someone out there who can relate to have more than one experience available to them when researching about it.
Ok, so, I, for the past couple of years have had extremely bad experiences with food. Before entering Grade 10 maybe (16 years old), I ate everything and never had a problem. However, probably with the approach of exams and some other stressful issues, I began to feel quickly irritated with food. I couldn’t eat anything without feeling tired and nauseous. I lost a lot of weight, I always felt tired and I couldn’t go out and enjoy a meal because everything was just too much for me. I never said anything because I thought the reason is that my gut is so closely connected to my nervous system and hence anything which affects me mentally affects my nutrition. I basically thought I was a sensitive person that needs to overcome stress to eat normally. After I started university, things did not get better. I would keep on either gaining weight too quickly or losing it. As if I wasn’t stressed enough, I chose one of the toughest majors in one of the toughest universities. It had me on an edge. Essays, submissions, deadlines, readings, cases, and adaptation to a whole new country. I didn’t make things easy for myself, and despite not regretting where I went and what I am studying, my health paid the price.
At the beginning of this year, more than 5 years of suffering, my symptoms were getting worse. I stopped exercising, doing anything besides studying, always wanting to sleep, constant headaches and weight panicking. After going on a trip with my family for a week this June, they noticed that I was not eating well, or that whenever I did I was on the edge of crying because my body couldn’t handle it. Despite being an active person before, I was not the same person anymore. So, we decided to dedicate the 2 months left of my summer before I go back to finish my final year of university, to seek medical advice. We started with the routine tests…etc. I found out that I have microscopic colitis in my colon, an auto-immune disease that cannot be seen with the eye, it inflames the colon and causes extreme pain to the body, especially if it has been present for a long while, which I suspect is the case. The treatment for it is a really long one and on a trial basis. So I have to try a certain medicine for a couple of months, and if it does not work, then I jump on the next. But I have to say, Thank God there is treatment.
After that, I was still not at my best, medications need time to adapt and start working. During this time, I did a blood test to see what food sensitivities I had. Within the results, I got a positive reaction to “CANDIDA” in my intestines. Candida is an overgrowth of a bacteria in your intestines which leaks the gut and ruins your LIFE. It causes fatigue, headaches, discomfort after eating, sugar cravings, fluctuations in weight and much more. Problem with it? It is only treated by alternative medicine. No conventional doctor believes in it, less knows about it, and hence you need to treat it on your own. At that moment, I wished I was in the USA, because many alternative practitioners there have had success stories healing candida and they believe in that sort of stuff.
Anyway, I researched about it every second of the day and came up with the conclusion that for this overgrowth to die, I have to starve it to death. I followed this website http://www.thecandidadiet.com/anti-candida-diet/ and many many many others. It basically said that I have to eliminate sugar, fruits, dairy, red meat, grains, starchy vegetables and the list goes on. It would be less time consuming if I tell you what I could eat: chicken, salmon, and greens. That’s it. Because many websites had different ideas about the diet, I decided to choose the strictest one. I was so determined to stay on it for I was FED UP with myself my life and everything. I did not want to start my fourth year knowing I had some overgrowth in my guts.
Before I move on to tell you what happened, you, me, every human on this planet has candida in the intestines. However, sometimes this candida grows, this can be caused by either stress or prolonged usage of antibiotics. I think in my case it was the former. Anyway, the only reason we all have candida is to assist the decomposition of the body after death. So, when this candida grows in a body which is not yet dead, it decays it when one is still alive! Scary I know. They invade the body weakening the immune system and causing a non-exhaustive list of symptoms.
I started eating only greens. After 2 weeks of experiencing die-off symptoms (apparently as the candida starves, it starts to release toxins which affect your body), I felt better. I had more energy, my skin was glowing, my headaches were gone, my dry eyes were clearer, I could eat and not feel bad and everything was going well. Many websites, and nutritionists, on the Internet recommended that one should introduce food as they move on with the diet in order to nourish their bodies. I think this is where I went wrong. I was so scared to eat “normal” food again because I remembered the long years of hating what would happen after I eat. I kept moving on with the diet. My parents and family kept insisting that I introduce grains at least, or a spoon of hummus, or a small piece of potato. I thought about eating berries (low-sugar fruits), but I never went with it. Things were going well, I was doing my university work as better than ever, and was going back to exercising, so I decided to not eat anything new and just stick to the strict diet eliminating anything which can take me back to where I used to be. As I reached day 60, things started to deteriorate.
My eyes were suddenly sinking with black circles under them. My face was extremely pale. I slept for 14 hours straight and woke up even more tired. I had NO energy whatsoever to do anything. I woke up with headaches and slept with ones. I dragged myself to classes, and gave 200000% more to just finish a chapter of reading. My stress levels started to elevate;, I was so frustrated with everything. At around day 80, as I was talking to my dad, he noticed how tired I was, and coincidentally I had 14 days off university as a reading week. He immediately booked me a ticket back home and we started doing tests.
Apparently, my body was in survival mode. It was so starved that is began eating itself. There were no carbohydrates for it to function, that it began to burn its own fat and hence leading to my exhaustion. More than one doctor strongly recommended that I go back to eating a balanced diet. And so I did.
Today is day 90 and for the past week I have introduced freekeh, hummus, whole wheat bread, labaneh, dark chocolate, fruits, and gum (YES I COULDN’T EAT GUM ). I feel SO much better, like I was dead and someone pumped life into me. I am still recovering and I think I have a long way to go. During the 80 days of strict dieting, I did more harm than good, and caused problems in other organs of my body (but that is for another blogpost).
I am now gaining weight which is an inevitable consequence of eating carbs after months of not. The body starts storing them because it is afraid I will stop giving it. I feel so bad for my body, it does not trust me anymore. I hate gaining weight, but I am trying to think of myself being on a recovery mode and that I will bounce back to a normal person once this is over. I don’t know if the candida is dead, or if my guts have been fixed, I am too scared to do a blood test for that and know the result. I will leave it till next summer maybe.
If I have any advice for anyone suffering from this: DO NOT DO THE CANDIDA DIET ON YOUR OWN. If you cannot find an alternative medicine practitioner/nutritionist to lead the way, then don’t dare and do what I did, it’ll ruin your metabolism, body and self-esteem.
I just had to write my story and hope someone will make use of it. Health is really important, and I never knew something like stress can cause so many problems. I still have to figure ways to deal with my obsession with perfectionism, but that will come on the way.
I thank God there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that I will go back to the active healthy ate anything she liked person I once enjoyed being.
Till I blog again 🙂