I diagnosed myself with an overgrowth of Candida albicans in September of 2014. I had been fighting with an array of mismatched and otherwise inexplicable symptoms, including adult “non” acne, bipolar like depression, soft stools, and chronic vaginal yeast infections. In addition I required as much as ten hours of sleep on a regular night, and sometimes up to fourteen if I had had a particularly rough day. I had seen doctors for each of these issues separately and was frustrated by how often they would come back saying there was nothing wrong with me. If I don’t have acne, what are all these red bumps all over my face?!?

Luckily I’m both stubborn and inherently suspicious of the scientific community. So eventually I landed on candida as a potential explanation for my difficulties. I started a low carb diet, with zero pasta, bread, rice or potatoes, root vegetables only in emergency situations, maximum of half an apple’s worth of fruit in a day, and always mixed with yogurt or in a smoothie so as not to hit my blood stream full force, zero added sugar, massive quantities of active culture yogurt, natto and a daily clove of raw garlic. I quit mushrooms and even laid off soy sauce — in Japan! — for the first two weeks. The result was a two day stretch of carbohydrate withrawal, a two week stretch of mental carbohydrate withdrawal (where anything starchy looked delicious, but my body did not crave it the same way), followed by a steady improvement of my symptoms. In one month my vaginal candida healed. After two months it didn’t come back. After three months my skin was relatively red-bump free and my bowel movements were on the whole generally regular and solid. In the fourth month I relapsed.

Proponents of fancy or trendy diets can rave all they want about the “ease” of their diet, how “tasty” the allowed foods are, the health benefits, the moral superiority, but the truth is that in the modern world wheat is king and corn is emperor. It’s nearly impossible to take starchy foods out of your diet and still participate in society. I found myself feeling isolated from my friends because I was the one who couldn’t go out to eat anywhere but a family restaurant (think Denny’s) that would serve a la carte. I had to quit beer and almost all other alcohol, too, which meant people always felt awkward when it was time for drinking parties. On top of that, the world is so fast and full that I think any human would find it a challenge to prepare all of their own meals today, but almost any pre made meal or snack today is just saturated with sugar. I found myself spending whole days feeling hungry and light headed because there was just nothing that I could eat. Naturally, after I was confident that I had things under control, I started to reintroduce small quantities of the forbidden carbs into my diet. That’s when things went awry.

It’s hard to know, without writing it all down all the time, how much wheat someone consumes in a day. A sandwich, a cream sauce, a steamed bun — they all have nutrients attached to the wheat part, so it’s hard to think of the wheat as separate from the whole. For example, how much filling needs to be in a sandwich to justify the fact that it’s being put between bread slices? So, I relapsed. I was under a lot of stress between work and my sick weasel, and I didn’t have the time or energy to go out shopping AND cook. The first sign that things were bad was the poo. Then my skin started to break out again. Finally, back came the crotch rot. I was hoping I could just tough it out until the stressors went away, but no go. I had to go back on my diet and I had to do it immediately.

I quit the carbs again four days ago. I cooked with garlic, ate double portions of natto, made my own kefir and chugged it. I’m happy to say that my body is already starting to rebalance itself! The vaginal candida is all but gone (fastest I’ve EVER healed from one of those!) I’ve had a few good poos mixed in with the slushy ones and my skin hasn’t produced any new bumps in a week. It’s frustrating to have to be so strict with myself, but it’s comforting to know that it pays off and that I can be in control of my health. I hope I don’t have to stay on such a strict diet forever, but for the time being I’m just trying to be at peace with the fact that my body had gotten overwhelmed by all the unnatural crap that had been thrown at it since my youth. I’m trying to be kind to my body, and to my spirit, because we are all trying really hard in a very human unfriendly environment.