A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams


September 2014

Eat a Variety

So, I’m on this candida diet right now. It’s perhaps the most difficult and restrictive diet I’ve ever been on, particularly since I’m trying to do this in Japan where the food is strange and the resource all written in weird squiggly box symbols. Yesterday I finally found a website that offered information freely (Candida Cure Recipes) and it even explained why there seemed to be confusion over whether or not fermented and pickled foods could be part of a healthy candida purge. I am really grateful to Susan for making this information available. It’s really the only thing that can help me in my position.

So that said, according to Susan’s candida philosophy, the first problem with a candida infection is that it tends to come in tandem with a generally weakened immune system. So a candida diet has to be rich in essential nutrients, vitamins and detoxifying bits. She offers up several degrees of candida dieting that are increasingly difficult to adhere to, but also increasingly hostile to an unwelcome candida population. The first level is simply to take out useless calories from your diet and add in helpful foods. Think ditching refined sugars, bleached and husked grains and most processed foods. This should be an easy and absolutely essential step in any diet that aims to promote overall health, but even though it was only one out of ten degrees of dieting it is so restrictive that anyone following it immediately loses the ability to dine at most restaurants.

Supposing one is successful at removing refined and simple carbohydrates from their diet, one is then challenged to replace those calories with more nutritious foods. Reading Susan’s website, you would think this is an easy and fun task. I’ve been on a candida diet for three days and I’ve eaten:

  • TONS of yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Eggplant
  • Eggs
  • Okra
  • Peppers

That’s about it. If these were each one a meal, that would be one thing. I could say “look how many recipes I’ve made!” But these are single ingredients. Tell me it’s not a sad list to look at? However, these are the only foods I could find that matched the commandments of no sweet rooty vegetables and no refined carbohydrates. Moreover, in order to achieve my daily caloric needs I’ve relied heavily on the animal categories.

This isn’t what Susan meant and this isn’t a sustainable diet. It’s also almost entirely industrial products with unknown chemical contents. No matter what the USDA says it most certainly does not contain enough variety to provide me with all my body’s nutritional needs, particularly its needs for antioxidant assistance and immune system support. Even the variety of animal flesh in my diet is miserably low. Chicken, beef and fish? That’s it? It’s a shame.

I ran into the problem of sufficient nutritional diversity before when trying to shift my ferrets onto a raw, or at least a whole prey diet. The advice is unanimous that a ferret’s digestrive tract is too short and too sensitive for almost all commercially manufactured kibbles, but as an obligate carnivore they require a variety of meat sources at a variety of ages, including organ meats, skin, small bones, fur and feathers. So far I have been able to find frozen mice of dubious origin, and chicken. It’s maddening!

Even mainstream doctors will stress the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet. But like everything else in our world today, once health was quantified everything that we couldn’t measure suddenly lost its value. The government decided that there are three macronutrient categories that partition all calories: carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. The government decided that there was a list of vitamins and minerals that encompassed all dimensions of nutritional benefit in a food, so that foods nearly devoid of natural goodness can still be considered nutritious if they are “enriched” with molecular constructs matching the missing elements from this list. According to the government, and therefore according to industry, chemically purified, skimmed, homogenized and hormone enhanced milk is the same as milk that came out of a cow that lived in a field and ate cow foods so long as you put the vitamins back in. And so when we try to follow the doctor’s orders we end up with trite recommendations: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Really? One apple? Every day? Is a pesticide apple ok? What about an apple that was picked last year and stored in a climate controled refrigeration facility? Is an apple better than, say, a pomegranate? Or a coconut? Why an apple? And while I’m on the subject, should I peel it first?

These days everything I say has the tone of despair and in my heart I want to sound the alarm of impending disaster. Help me! Please! I am dying! We are dying as a people! We know what we need, we know what we want, but we are so small and so insignificant that we can’t do it without help. All goodness in the world cannot be quanitified. It is not that “money can’t buy love”, it’s that scientists can’t measure the body’s voice, governments can’t enforce good spirit, bosses can’t observe the value of a human life. In our mistaken belief that science will one day allow us to know all things, we have arrived at the false conclusion that what science can’t know does not exist. It’s heartbreaking.

And right now, it’s stomach-aching, too.

Candida, Holistic Care and the Interwebs

I recently self-diagnosed myself with chronic systemic candida. I’m not sure if systemic is the right word cuz I think that means in the blood versus just in the digestive tract, but anyway I’ve got it. And I’m in Japan. So what do I do about it?

One of the things that people don’t tell you about moving to a new country is that not only is the culture different, but so is the food and all of the resources that you have become accustomed to. Suddenly, if you want food that you used to eat, you can’t get it locally and so you are probably going to be stuck with whatever the industry standard is. For anyone who has considered a holistic approach to any ailment, you can already see the problem. But more than that, I don’t know if the Japanese care about the same types of things Americans care about. What do vegan, organic, paleo mean to the Japanese and how would you express those concepts? It’s a major struggle.

While I would have liked to find a holistic care giver to help me with my candida problem, unfortunately I still don’t have the language to find one so I am making do with the interwebs as my guide. After reading a ton of websites I’ve learned a few things about natural treatments (really, the only treatments) for candida overgrowth:

  • You can’t diagnose yourself and should see a professional. However most professionals will misdiagnose candida, so you should buy the products and services being advertised on this webpage.
  • Candida overgrowth is caused by a number of factors, some chemical and some lifestyle. Even if the cause is lifestyle and diet, changes to your diet and lifestyle alone are insufficient to cure a candida overgrowth, so you should buy the products and services being advertised on this webpage.
  • Most other information on the internet is misleading because it is being posted by unreviewed sources that are really just trying to get you to buy their product, so you should buy the products and services being advertised on this webpage.
  • Absolutely eliminating all sources of sugar and simple carbohydrates from your diet for a minimum of one month is a critical step in curing a candida overgrowth. All fruit is off the menu, but some fruits with low sugar are ok if your body can tolerate them. At any time during your healing process if you eat any sugar at all it will destroy all of your progress to date, however listening to your body is a good way to determine if you are tolerating a certain food. Pickled foods are bad, but fermented foods are good, unless they are fermented with yeast or other yeast similar organisms. The candida diet is so strict and the rules so rigid that no one is successful in healing an infection through diet  and lifestyle changes alone. Instead, you should find a support group or even better the coaching of a professional, so you should buy the products and services being advertised on this webpage.
  • Even if you follow the candida diet very strictly, you will not be able to cure yourself from candida without powerful herbs, supplements, probiotics and natural antifungals. None of these exist in nature or are available at your local grocery store, so you should buy the products and services being advertised on this webpage.
  • As candida die they produce toxins that your body must purge in order to be healthy. Sweating is an important detoxification process, but exercise sweat doesn’t count. You have to sit in a sauna. If you don’t have a sauna at home, don’t worry because the author of this webpage has a physical location with a sauna as well as all the other detoxification products that you can’t get anywhere else, so you should buy the products and services being advertised on this webpage.
  • It is impossible to know if you have a candida infection or how long it will take for you to heal without being examined and overseen by a professional, so you should buy the products and services being advertised on this webpage.

After several days of research on the interwebs I came to the conclusion that most licensed medical professionals acknowledge the possibility of a candida overgrowth and its relationship to blood sugar. However from a traditional perspective chronic candida type symptoms can only be explained by diabetes, which I tested negative for. Thus I concluded that the candida diet probably works in at least one of its forms because of its focus on lowering and stabilising blood sugar. On the other hand, most holistic and natural health care advisors sound awfully similar to those people on late night infomercials who really just want your money and aren’t particularly interested in sharing information with you that might lower the chance of you buying their product or service. So on the front of antifungals and probiotics I’m kind of at a loss. I know that garlic is a powerful antifungal and so I am incorporating a raw clove into my diet every day. I also know that coconut oil has antibiotic properties and is supposed to help, but honestly the taste just makes me gag in anything other than a sweet dish. Vinegar I’ve got no clue about since on the one hand vinegar is deadly to mold and fungi, but on the other hand only apple cider vinegar is considered acceptable and all other vinegar is off limits. For the life of me I can’t find out why apple cider vinegar should be special so I’m just going to skip the vinegar for now.

Taking out grains and simple sugars from your diet is a great way to lose weight. I’m seeing now why the Atkins was so popular in the United States twenty years ago. All of a sudden almost every dish served at restaurants is off limits. At the same time in order to replace the calories I’m losing the sheer volume of vegetable matter that I have to consume is overwhelming. I’ve been to the grocery store three times in the last week. So taking grains out of your diet forces you to supercharge the nutritional content and variety of your food. The downside of this diet, and indeed the truly difficult part, is that it is so far away from mainstream eating habits both in the United States and in Japan that it effectively isolates you from other people and often leaves you floundering in a blood-sugar starved daze for something to eat.

After dropping two kilograms in the first three days of this diet I decided very quickly that I need to make sure that I’m tracking my calorie and nutritional intake. Combined with the immediate die off symptoms I suffered, I needed to know clearly what was causing what in my body in order to be able to complete the first month of restriction. I track my foods on CRON-o-meter where I can see what my caloric intake is along with protein, carbohydrate and fat breakdown is. It will also track my weight and give me predictions based on my current habits.

I’ve never consumed a more complete nutritional panel, but I’ve never felt so awful doing it! Die off hit me immediately with headaches, stomachaches, disorientation, and fatigue within hours of starting the diet. I was shocked, too, at how badly I wanted sweets in the first few days. All the food that was available to me was healthy and delicious, but even when I ate my fill of it I would sit in a daze craving more but not being able to eat it. I have never had such an experience before. Hot baths at night and a full night’s rest would clear my head by morning, but the ache in my abdomen was near constant for three days. Today I feel much better, but I also blew my carb limit yesterday despite not eating any grains, starches or sweets. I will be more careful again today, but I hope the die off symptoms are over for me. I want to heal quickly, but moreover completely. This is an incredibly difficult diet to follow and I sincerely hope that the websites who so earnestly think I should buy their products and services were exaggerating when they said the diet would have to be followed for up to six months.

This is my first adventure in holistic medicine. I will keep you updated with my progress.

True Love

This is the third time I’ve tried posting to my blog this week. It’s been a rough month. Between my teaching responsibilities resuming, my partners meeting each other, and me realizing that a dream is building in my that will take me away from everything I know, but that I know I can’t ignore…

well, it’s been a rough month.

My boyfriend and I have been having difficulties lately. My SLAMpig came to visit me in Japan for the second time and he stayed in my apartment, just like before, but this time my boyfriend was also living there. When my boyfriend moved in I was clear with him that we would have to tread carefully and see how things work out; and I was also clear with him that Mr. Pig was coming to visit and that I had at the time already offered him to stay in my place. The boyfriend said he was ok with it all, and at the time I really think he believed he could handle it, but my god! did it explode!

My Pig was, and still is, incredibly patient through it all. My boyfriend and I have also since the explosion (which included threats of suicide and much ignoring and twisting of my words) begun the meticulous steps necessary to repair and move forward. I don’t have a lot of experience with people being willing to work on relationships with me. Most of the time things go great until there’s a critical build up and a critical explosion. I discover that I’ve been making accommodations that I’m not really ok with and the other person turns out to be unwilling to compromise or even listen to my needs. It all just goes to hell from there and I end up running away. I hope that we are able to work things out, but I was so blindsided by the explosion that right now I feel wary and uneasy around him.

At this point in my life I’m incredibly frustrated with how hard it is to have relationships with people. I get it, relationships come and go and they’re fun for a while and they end and then it hurts, but why does it feel like I’m the only person* in the world who actually practices active listening, self awareness, and honesty in my relationships? Why is it so hard, even when you ask point blank, to find people who understand how polyamory works and who have the presence to recognize the difference between “this isn’t working” and “you’re an awful person, you never loved me and you never will!”? That’s the way my marriage went down and that’s what the explosion with my boyfriend was alll about. No matter how many times I tried to explain, “This is nothing new and, no, I will not compromise on it in any way. I care about you and want you to be happy. Please tell me what you need so that I can try to make it happen,” it felt like there was a filter in his brain that converted everything I said into “No, I don’t love you any more, and by the way, no one will ever love you again because I’m the only one”. It’s maddening!

I read this book a few months ago with an unfortunately long title. The author talks about how we need a new Story of the World. Bryan and Cecilda talk about the Standard Narrative which includes notions of finite resources, working hard to earn your keep, and one true love forever. Maybe I’m universalizing my experience, but I really do believe that we need a new Story. It felt like everything I said to my boyfriend had to get converted and muddled because in his world it was impossible for my feelings for him and my actions to coexist. It was just outside of his reality.

More and more I’m beginning to inhabit the idea that normal isn’t just boring, it’s killing us. For many years now I have fought with the ever present sense that I am not human, but some kind of alien species. The feeling has been so strong for me at times that I really believed that a clever enough scientist might even be able to detect it in the molecular structure of my being. I used to despair that as an alien species among humans, I would always be alone. Thanks to the language given to me by Charles, Bryan and Cecilda, I can say that it is not my nature which is alien, but that my story is different. Seeing how the Standard Narrative is destroying the planet we live on, it gives me comfort to know that nearly anything that is considered good, successful or virtuous by normal standards is most surely going to kill us. I find freedom and peace in the knowledge that, if you want to save the world, weird is really the only way to be.

So, in the light of “weird is the only option”, I am embarking on a journey to discover what it is that calls me so urgently in the quiet hours. The first step on my journey is to cut the ties between my mind and my colleagues’ notion of what it means to be a good economist. I know that economics has much to say about the world and how we can save it, but I also know that fighting to be successful in a job defined by the Standard Narrative is a surefire way to miss my chance to save the world. In order to free my mind I have come up with a list of duties that constitute the minimum I need to do to still be in compliance with my employment contract. Research is not on this list. In place of the energy I used to spend trying to produce publishable research, I am going to let my mind wander to the places that call it. I believe that only by listening will I be ready to understand what it is that I need to do. Already the path is becoming more clear, though I have no idea where it leads.

I’ve said this before and it is no less true now: I am frightened. To follow my heart is to step into the unknown, but the known is a path to destruction. It is a clear path and a simple one to follow, but it goes straight into oblivion. Those who follow their hearts sometimes arrive in a place of fame and success. History looks at where they are and traces the steps they took to arrive there. Sometimes those steps become absorbed into the Narrative as another acceptable path to take. People will then encourage others to attempt to reproduce that journey in the hopes that similar success will be achieved. But we know better, right? Freedom of the heart comes because we choose our own path regardless of what company it brings.

I talk about following my calling and about saving the world and about loneliness. I can’t explain to you why but I know that these three are one and the same. My heart aches for company, but the Narrative tells me I have no company and that other than my One True Love, all other human affection is an illusion created by the forces of evolution over millenia in order to for us to better compete against each other. I see the destruction that the global economy wreaks on the oceans, the forests, and the humans that depend on them for life, but the Narrative tells me that this is inevitable and even acceptable because if it really mattered someone could make a profit from fixing it. Yet somehow, some part of me knows that if I follow my calling I will feel a communion with the world around me and I will have love and that, somehow, love is really all we need.

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