"[The] key is ensuring the digestive system is functioning properly," says naturopath Sarah Cimperman, ND. Still, it's not all bad news, as everything you can eat on the candida diet is beneficial to your health in other ways, too. (Think low-starch veggies, lean animal proteins, and fermented foods.) Plus, there are a number of tried-and-true hacks which can help you dupe the foods you love without feeding your fungus.
Below, find a collection of candida diet recipes from top food bloggers that follow all the rules to help reduce candida overgrowth without making you feel like you're actually on a diet. (Nachos, anyone?)
- Sarah Cimperman, ND, New York City-based naturopath
What is the candida diet?
The candida diet is a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that promotes good gut health and eliminates the sugars that feed a candida overgrowth, a type of fungus or yeast that grows all over the body, especially in warm, moist areas on the body. The diet includes non-starchy vegetables, some low-sugar fruits, non-glutenous grains, certain dairy products, and fermented foods. It’s also meant to improve gut health, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity, meanwhile alleviating candida symptoms like bloating, indigestion, yeast infections, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and gas.
Foods you can eat on the candida diet
- Brussels sprouts
- Garlic (raw)
Low sugar fruits:
- Oat bran
- Salmon (wild)
Some dairy products:
- Yogurt (probiotic)
Low-mold nuts and seeds:
- Sunflower seeds
Herbs, spices & condiments:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Black pepper
- Coconut aminos
Healthy fats and oils:
- Coconut oil (virgin)
- Flax oil
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- monk fruit
- chicory coffee
- herbal tea
3 key things to remember about the candida diet
1. Avoid foods high in sugar
It’s important to avoid foods high in sugar (natural or added), as it can feed the candida overgrowth and exacerbate inflammation and disrupt gut health. This includes sugar and sugar substitutes like agave, aspartame, cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, and molasses.
2. Avoid foods with gluten
Research shows that consuming gluten, even for those that don’t have celiac disease, can lead to chronic inflammation. Consuming foods with gluten like barley, rye, spelt, and wheat can leave the gut more susceptible to candida overgrowth.
3. Avoid foods that can trigger inflammation
Common foods (and drinks) that can trigger inflammation include processed meat, sugar, gluten, alcohol, and foods with trans fats. Although, there are several other surprising foods that also cause inflammation, including peanuts, seitan, frozen yogurt, and agave, to name a few.
Keep reading for 12 gut-friendly recipes that are candida diet-approved.
These pancakes from health coach Christina Rice work for just about every type of eater—they're permissible for the candida diet and are also low-FODMAP, Paleo, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. Plus, they manage to sneak in some gut-healthy collagen. To comply with anti-candida protocol, top them with almond butter instead of syrup. (But check the ingredient label first to ensure your brand isn't sneaking in anything suspicious!)
You may not be able to enjoy oats on a candida diet, but you can eat all the oat bran you want. This recipe from Nutriplanet mixes it with buckwheat flakes and beta carotene-packed carrots, which are optimal in small quantities. (And they can actually make you appear more attractive to the opposite sex—weird, but true!).
Load up on nutrient-dense veggies to boost your immunity, which will help your body stay balanced. Using this recipe from candida diet expert Lisa Richards as a guideline, add any non-starchy vegetables you love into the mix. (Protein's a-ok, too).
Mix Christina Rice's creamy eggplant spread into a veggie bowl, use it as a dip for cucumber slices, or just eat it with a spoon at snack time—it's that good.
Unlike most starchy vegetables, the root veggie rutabaga is approved for those on a candida diet thanks to its anti-fungal properties. In Lisa Richards' nacho recipe, it replaces traditional corn tortilla chips—a no-no for candida sufferers. You can also make oven-baked rutabaga fries using coconut oil and salt.
The apple cider vinegar used in this simple salad recipe by Natural Tasty Chef is said to be beneficial for gut health. Plus, the pumpkin seeds tossed into this mix are purported to have anti-fungal properties, too.
Cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, are said to have anti-fungal properties. In this recipe by Lisa Richards, they're mixed with buckwheat in a super-filling salad that can be eaten hot or cold.
This salmon burger recipe from Elana's Pantry is so flavorful, you won't miss the bread. But if you happen to be craving a carb, whip up Lisa Richards' gluten-free caraway seed buns or serve alongside rutabaga fries.
Fermented foods like kimchi offer big benefits—probiotics!—to candida sufferers. Here, fermented cabbage adds flavor to standard meatballs, which Lisa Richards recommends serving with a side of probiotic-packed plain yogurt.
On sick days, cold days, or pretty much any day, few things can beat a steaming bowl of chicken soup. Luckily most versions, including this stew by Lisa Richards, are candida diet-friendly. You can also go for Brand New Vegan's meatless version if you're vegetarian—it's made with cauliflower taco meat instead.
Sometimes on a no-sugar diet, all you want to do is hit up a drive-thru and slurp down a frosty shake. Dupes can help take the edge off—this one, from Oh, The Things We'll Make, utilizes avocado, spinach, coconut milk, cucumber, and fresh mint in place of sugar, dairy, and more sugar.
Cookies and candida generally don't mix, but this kind from Natural Sweet Recipes utilizes anti-fungal xylitol as a sweetener instead of sugar. Its use of anti-inflammatory cinnamon is a wellness bonus, too. Candida caveat: Make sure your vanilla extract doesn't have added sugar in it—believe it or not, some do.
7-day candida diet meal plan
Breakfast: Gluten-free, low-sugar protein pancakes with strawberries
Lunch: Chicken salad
Dinner: Quinoa stuffed bell peppers
Breakfast: Avocado toast on gluten-free bread
Lunch: Kale salad lemon vinaigrette
Dinner: Grilled salmon with roasted brussels sprouts
Breakfast: Spinach and egg bites
Lunch: Spinach and artichoke salad with cherry tomatoes
Dinner: Grilled chicken and broccoli
Breakfast: Blackberry avocado smoothie
Lunch: Creamy egg salad
Dinner: Ground turkey-stuffed zucchini boats
Breakfast: Omelette with tomato salsa
Lunch: Chicken noodle soup with gluten-free pasta
Dinner: Baked cod with olive tapenade
Breakfast: Berry chia pudding
Lunch: Curried cauliflower soup
Dinner: Lemon chicken with asparagus
Breakfast: Yogurt parfait
Lunch: Chicken and zucchini noodle salad
Dinner: Turkey meatballs with green beans
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