The Elimination diet is designed to narrow down any possible sensitivity to foods that may be causing imbalance, symptoms, and illness. It is also used to treat Candida which often is a result of Antibiotic Treatment. It was this diet that helped me get my life back after treatment (see the Dining with Lyme, Candida & Lyme , and After Treatment pages).
The idea behind it is to eliminate processed and harmful foods entirely and “problem” foods for a period of time. Then, slowly reintroduce the suspected problem foods one at a time and observe if there is a reaction. If so, the food should continue to be avoided (see below for more details). It also introduces whole foods that will help restore balance and help determine if nutrient deficiencies were the cause of symptoms.
This is NOT a low carb diet. You need carbs (see the Carbohydrates page). But there is a difference between good and bad carbs.
Many people wonder if they will have to stay on the “diet” indefinitely. Ultimately, that is up to you. There are many other reasons to stay away from many of the so-called “bad” foods. I would certainly stay strictly on this diet while undergoing any antibiotic treatment or Candida treatment. It does take time for the body to heal, so it will vary from person to person.
When I first started to cut out the bad foods, I felt as though I was starving and would pass out, and you may experience this, too. Stay the course. This is due to your body being used to extreme sugar spikes, and its addiction to sugar and bad carbohydrates. Over time, your natural insulin levels and your body’s natural functions and metabolism will even out and normalize. You will return to homeostasis.
As with any diet, you should always consult with your physician before making any drastic changes. You may lose weight on this diet, so be sure to obtain a good understanding of it and how food works before beginning. Once you get to your ideal weight, the weight loss should taper off.
If you’re hungry eat good whole foods (See the What Can I Eat page). There is no reason to starve yourself or go hungry. Keep in the forefront of your mind: quality fresh food and ingredients.
Beginning The Elimination Diet
Start logging what you eat and when. Also keep track of any symptoms you have and when. This will help pinpoint what foods are causing symptoms and should be avoided. After a month or so of avoiding those foods, you can do a “challenge” (as suggested in the Yeast Connection) and see if your symptoms return. In that case continue to avoid those foods. I have created a basic spreadsheet for your convenience to help you keep track of this, your medications, and your symptoms. Feel free to download and print the Daily Log as needed. It can be printed two-sided to save paper and for ease.
Foods To Avoid
There are certain foods to avoid while being treated for Candida and/or Lyme disease. I have provided a basic list with brief descriptions.
Foods to avoid, in my opinion, are not only for this diet, but for long-term health and prevention. Personally, I don’t look at it as if it is limiting. I’ve learned to look at it as though I am returning to a natural diet that my body was intended to consume, nothing more, nothing less. You may have to gradually wean yourself off of these “bad” foods.
These foods should strictly be avoided during treatment. Once treatment is complete, you can try to reintroduce foods such as whole grains, legumes, dairy, and high carbohydrate fruits and veggies if you choose to. There are many valid reasons to continue to avoid these foods for long term health, as detailed in the pages to the right.
If you do choose to add them back in, do so one at a time. Wait several days and see if symptoms return. If any symptoms return, continue to avoid that food. Limit the quantity and frequency of these foods in any case and be sure to eat a wide variety of foods.
Does this mean I can never have a piece of birthday cake or make a toast with a glass of champagne at a wedding? No, certainly not. But I do reserve those things for very special occasions. I am aware of the consequences, and make adjustments in my diet to account for those rare treats. However, until you return to full health, you may want to avoid them for the time being.
The No No List
The first thing you want to cut out is what I refer to as White Death: White Sugar and White Flour and all things that contain them.
Processed or Refined Foods
This means anything that comes pre-packaged, in a box, a bag, a bottle, a can, a jar….you name it, you can’t have it. No sauces, condiments, boxed rice, frozen dinners, etc…. If you read the ingredients on any of these items, you will quickly see how much sugar, vinegar, and yeast products are included in them, besides other harmful chemicals.
No Deli Meats! Deli meats are highly processed and usually contain fillers, sugars, yeasts, bacteria, parasites, and other unnatural products. If you want deli meat, slice it yourself from a real piece of meat.
Antibiotics and Hormones
Any food that contains antibiotics or hormones, whether it’s dairy, eggs, or meat, should be avoided at all times. You may also need to stop taking birth control pills or hormone replacement if you are. Discuss this with your doctor.
Industrial Agriculture, Genetically Modified, and Irradiated Foods
Anything that is doused with chemicals or is genetically altered should be avoided. Please see the Processed Food page for more information.
Fermented Foods often contain yeast, grains, molds, and create spikes in blood sugar. They often cause problems with Candida and feed pathogens. Any food that ferments can have the same effect.
All alcohol in all of its forms must be avoided. I know…..that one hurts. But it’s the favorite treat of yeast and pathogens. Besides the many other detrimental factors involved with alcohol consumption, it truly should be avoided.
Most vinegar and products containing vinegars must also be avoided. This too feeds yeast and alters the acids in the digestive system. It also stops digestive enzymes for carbohydrates. Some vinegars interact with medications. See the Substitutes page for more information on acceptable vinegars.
Yeast, Mold, Fungus
Anything that contains yeast, including supplements, should be avoided. This means no bread. Be careful of the stocks that you choose as well, most of them contain sugar and yeast products.
Anything with mold, or fungus (including mushrooms), should be avoided. Molds are what antibiotics are made from. They are pathogens to humans. This means moldy meats and cheeses. Products using molds as cultures. Inspect your fruit and vegetables carefully for mold. If there’s mold growing on them, don’t eat them.
I have seen mixed reviews on nutritional yeast. Personally, if trying to treat Candida or avoid Candida overgrowth, I would avoid all yeasts altogether. There is no need for nutritional yeast if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Grains & Legumes
Anything that causes symptoms should be avoided.
You are probably thinking what I initially said to myself, “anything that tastes good should be avoided.” That was only true until I learned to get creative with my cooking and learned more about how food works (See the What Can I Eat, Substitutes, and Recipes pages for ideas).
If you go through your kitchen right now and read the labels on all of the prepackaged foods you have, I doubt you will find one that does not contain some form of sugar, yeast, vinegar, alcohol, or chemical that you don’t recognize. Start researching the chemicals (if you can’t pronounce it, you don’t want to eat it), and I think it will begin to change your thinking about these products.
The first step in eliminating these “bad foods” is to start reading labels!
Eat With Caution
These are foods that you can slowly begin to add back in one at a time. Wait a few days before adding another one. If you get any symptoms from them, stop eating them.
All dairy, including milk and cheese, for the most part should be eliminated. Some people are more sensitive to this than others. Many cheeses and dairy cultures include molds and most commercial dairy products are made with hormones and antibiotics. No butter substitutes like margarine!
The only exception is plain, unsweetened yogurt or kefir for its probiotic benefits, in moderation. Due to the bacterial cultures, it is partially digested for us, so it is not as harsh on our digestive system.
Some people have sensitivities to eggs, and should avoid them if that is the case. If you are going to eat eggs, make sure they are antibiotic and hormone free. Preferably, find eggs that have the proper Omega 3 profile. No egg substitutes. That’s right, no egg beaters.
Fruits & Vegetables
Avoid high carbohydrate starchy fruits & vegetables, like potatoes, beets, apples, bananas, and melons. These consist of starches that are difficult to digest, and increase blood sugars. Dried fruits should be avoided. Not only are they concentrated sugar, they often contain molds. Low glycemic fruit such as berries are okay in moderation (no more than 1 serving per day). All other vegetables can be eaten in abundance.
Bottled fruit juices should be avoided. Besides the highly processed chemical nature of these, they usually contain added sugars or juices that are high in sugar naturally. If you must have juice, have fresh squeezed, but this should be on rare occasion and done with caution. Personally, while undergoing treatment, I would avoid it altogether because it eliminates the pulp and creates spikes in the blood sugar. Eat the whole fruit instead.
Coffee and Tea should be used with caution and limited to 1-2 cups per day. Caffeine raises blood sugar, so it can cause problems for those fighting Candida or other intestinal imbalances. Fresh Organic Coffee is recommended to minimize mold and chemical contamination.
Eliminate food that makes you sick.