Claire McEwen, hopeful romantic.

A Diet Detox – and the aftermath

I have been trying to eat healthier for several years now. I used to eat fairly well, but my diet absolutely fell apart once I had a child. My son is an extremely fussy eater for many reasons, and after cooking him bland chicken and macaroni-and-cheese for the millionth time, I lost my joy in cooking and started eating his food, or skipping meals, or eating simple carbs. And the more I ate that way, the more I craved that kind of food.

Besides being a full-time mom, I was also a writer-on-permanent-deadline. And to make all that mommying and writing happen, I didn’t sleep very much. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re much more likely to reach for carbs and sugar because they provide a quick energy burst, even though they deprive you of energy in the long run. Gradually I got caught in a vicious dietary cycle of caffeine, carbs and sugar. And then I’d have a glass of wine at night to balance out the caffeine buzz.

By the fall of 2017, when I turned 50, I was ten pounds overweight, with all kinds of health issues and zero energy. My brain felt dull and everything in life, all the normal chores and events and just getting up in the morning, seemed to take huge amounts of effort. And worst of all, my brain felt foggy. I couldn’t remember things, stay organized, or complete tasks. My house was a mess, my life was a mess, I was a mess… I knew I had to make a big change. I needed a diet detox.

I’d started seeing a naturopath the previous spring, and she’d helped address the lovely hormonal changes that accompany age 50, and also some nutritional issues as well. But I couldn’t shake my sugar and carb cravings, which were a big impediment to eating healthier and feeling better! So my naturopath tested me for yeast overgrowth, which, according to many natural practitioners, is a debilitating medical condition, and according to many regular western doctors, doesn’t actually exist at all.

Apparently, if it is a real thing, I had it. And I was desperate enough to take a leap of faith and try to cure it. I figured, why not? I’d tried all kinds of other things to feel better, had worked with my regular doctor for years, tried prescriptions to help me sleep, or pep me up, or clear my mind. But those ‘medicines’ didn’t work very well, and left me with all kinds of side effects.

So I went for it. I took an anti-fungal medication for two weeks, along with a natural anti-fungal remedy. And I went 100% sugar free and almost carb free for a few weeks as well. That meant no starches, including potatoes! No fruit, no baked goods, no alcohol, no sweetener in my coffee. No dairy except butter and a little unsweetened yogurt. Just veggies and protein and about a cup of whole grains each day.

It was only for a few weeks but honestly, it felt a bit like torture. I was so used to eating those foods that I felt sad and exhausted without them. And the medicine made me feel kind of sick. But I’d felt awful for so long, I figured it was worth seeing it through. And I am so glad I did!

When my weeks without sugar were finished, and I could eat freely again, I didn’t go back to my old eating habits. I’m not 100% sugar free, but I can view sugar and baked goods far more rationally than I did before. I have dabbled, I admit, in a few girl scout cookies yesterday, and a slice of bread earlier in the week, but I seem to be able to keep it in balance and sustain a healthier diet long term. I mean, I’m craving a sugar-free green smoothie right now. Not donuts. Not cake or cookies or bread. I want a green smoothie! I never really thought that would happen!

Green Smoothie

Instead of a pint of beer… a pint of green!

The more I take the probiotics that the naturopath gave me, to ‘repopulate my gut’ (I know… doesn’t that sound groovy?) the better I feel. My excitement for life is coming back and each day I seem to wake up feeling more alert and alive. My skin looks better, I’ve lost a few pounds and I want to exercise, (what??!!) so I’m confident I’ll lose a few more. The biggest relief is that the horrible mental fog and confusion is lifting, and the creativity in my writing has returned. Plus, my house is clean and organized for the first time in years, plans with friends are fun again, I laugh more, am sillier, and I’m sure I’m a lot more fun to be around!

I went into this detox process quite skeptical. Anti-fungal medication is toxic and scary, and I wasn’t convinced that yeast overgrowth was an actual medical condition. Honestly, if I hadn’t felt desperate, and truly at my wits end, I would not have agreed to this course of action.

But I am very grateful that I did. I feel like I am getting my life back. That I’m getting ME back. And for the first time in a very long time, I feel hopeful about my future.

If you’re interested in learning more about yeast-overgrowth, here are some links. I’ve just listed a few, there are many more websites, books and articles out there.

Wishing you health, creativity and happiness!

Pros:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/candida-symptoms-treatment
http://www.doctoroz.com/article/yeast-hidden-cause-your-exhaustion
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/maura-henninger-nd/five-steps-to-treating-ca_b_4810659.html

Cons:
https://www.self.com/story/candida-overgrowth-problem-too-much-yeast-no-too-little-science
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/candida-cleanse/faq-20058174
https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/12/10/we-all-have-candida-and-its-ok


Disclaimer: I have zero medical training and cannot offer advice about medical issues. All I can do is share my journey and hope it inspires other people to pursue their own health and well being in whatever way works for them. Please speak with your doctor about any changes regarding your health. My only piece of advice is that if you are thinking about seeing a naturopath, consider choosing one who is also a western doctor. That was important to me when choosing my naturopath, and I’m glad I made that choice.

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