I’ve heard this often. I can relate, believe me. A candida elimination program can be pretty confusing at first glance. What we're talking about here is the dietary portion of a candida elimination program. Most people add in extra supplements, herbs, and natural detox products to help the body get back in balance. But this is your main medicine - the foods you eat every day.
With this outline you're making a dietary shift toward eating foods that nourish the whole body and support the immune system. The most important change is to start eliminating the foods that are causing the imbalance in your intestines (which is really the "command central" of our immune system), while increasing the foods which nourish and support a healthy body.
Please use these guidelines as just that -- "Guidelines".
You may need to experiment with how fast or slow to make the changes. Your body will definitely let you know if you're trying to do too much at once.
Everyone is different. Most feel great after eliminating refined sugars, refined or processed grains (especially gluten grains) and unhealthy fats and will be happy with those changes. Others will be motivated to make further dietary changes which can help improve a variety of common health complaints caused by (or exacerbated by) dietary triggers.
There are a few key points that are pretty universal, no matter who you are:
- Chances are that if you do have candida overgrowth then making some dietary changes makes sense. Most important for everyone is to cut out the refined carbohydrates and the junk foods. Sounds tough I know but the better you eat, the better you begin to feel. Then the other foods really do become less enticing.
- Eat lots of plant foods, both cooked and raw, including raw salads and raw vegetable dishes, if your digestion is up for it. Naturally grown fresh vegetables, salad greens, and fruits have a high content of pure water, and will help your body cleanse and rejuvenate faster than any other food.
- If you have trouble digesting salads & raw vegetables consider blending them or even try juicing them until your body regains its balance and is working properly enough to digest the whole foods. Blending fresh vegetables and greens makes them easier to digest because the plant fibers have been broken down into a pulp. Juicing removes the indigestible fiber from the plants altogether, leaving wide array of nutrients super-available for the body to assimilate in liquid form, though you do miss out on the "whole food" aspect. If you don't own a juicer, find a local juice bar and get your veggie juice. The goal is to get to the point where you don't need to juice your vegetables because your digestive system can handle the whole foods.
- If your digestive system really has a difficult time with raw vegetables & salads, even blended or juiced, then it's fine to stick with cooked vegetables and greens.
- Be sure to include dark leafy greens in your daily diet (kale, collards, spinach, dandelion, arugula, chard, watercress, parsley, etc). These chlorophyll-rich foods are deeply nourishing, plus they have great cleansing and detox effects for the body. Again, if you have trouble chewing and digesting dark leafy greens then blend them in to soups or purees, and add them to fresh vegetable juices.
And last but not least:
Please listen to your own inner wisdom. There is no "one magic diet" that is right for everyone to follow for a lifetime. People are different, and peoples' bodies can change. Keeping a food diary can prove valuable in determining what works well for you and what doesn't.
Some may be able to make these changes practically overnight or within a week or two and will do great. Others will need to take it slower, which is perfectly fine too.
Some people find it helpful to cut out all sugars from the diet for a few weeks, as a "system restart". Some will feel better and get their bodies back on track while still including some fruits, sweet potatoes, and the like, in their menus.
There is no time limit for making these changes. Of course, the sooner you are eating a fabulously healthy diet the sooner you'll feel better, but don't worry about it. It took a while to get out of balance, so it's okay to take a little while to turn it back around, right?
Just do one step at a time. Once you've completed Step 1 and Step 2 you're already on your way to feeling better. Remember, if you try to make too many changes all at once it may be too much for the body to handle and you’ll end up feeling a lot worse, which will make it too hard to continue.
Slow and steady wins the race!
Diet guidelines for a candida elimination program
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 1
Eliminate refined carbohydrates as well as natural and artificial sweeteners (except stevia), from your diet.
Ditch the beer, wine, whiskey, and sweet liqueurs for now too. I'm not saying everyone needs to avoid alcohol, always and forever. Some people might do okay with a little vodka or gin on a candida elimination program, but remember that getting buzzed on alcohol, even low-carb alcohol, can weaken anyone's resolve to eat well.
Try making stevia-sweetened lemonade and limeade. Serve lemonade in a wine glass, or over ice in a tall glass with a straw for fun. Or if you don't do well with citrus fruits then get some herbal teas and make hot or iced tea, sweetened with stevia. For a unique twist on a refreshing beverage try my Apple Cider Vinegar Cocktail.
You'll find these and other beverage ideas on the drink recipes page.
If you go out with friends who are having cocktails, you can order club soda with a lime. It looks like a cocktail and you'll have something to sip while everyone else is getting tipsy. And no hangover...
Okay, the alcohol is pretty self explanatory, let's look closer at refined carbohydrates.
Here's a link to page about high and low carbohydrate foods.
Toward the bottom of that page is a description of the many names and common forms of refined carbohydrates (a.k.a. refined sugars).
Phase them out - the sooner the better.
Those types of "foods" aren't nourishing, they're depleting to the body, whether or not you're on a candida elimination program. Most modern diets include more "empty foods" than a body can handle, which contributes to symptoms of disease. Fresh foods; natural, wholesome foods nourish the body. Focus on increasing those foods to replace the refined foods, you'll feel a difference.
Not so happy about that? I know, this can sound daunting. But cravings for refined carbohydrates (bread, bagels, pastries, muffins, biscuits, pasta, cookies, crackers, candy bars, pretzels, soda, bottled juices, sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, rice syrup, etc.) are not associated with "true hunger". Your body does not "need" any of those things to nourish itself.
Those kinds of cravings are usually triggered by something else - (habits, emotions, routines, a poor diet) and in some cases may be caused by the yeast overgrowth. When you're healed - when your body has regained its strength, vitality and natural balance - the cravings won't haunt you in the same way. And, you'll be naturally inclined to go for healthier options like fresh fruit instead of the high fructose corn syrup and white flour crap.
Remember, cravings can be severe, like the horrible withdrawal symptoms of drug addicts that keep them going back to the drug they're trying to quit.
Don't get caught in the vicious cycle. When it comes to refined carbohydrates, in any form, just say "no thank you". Eat something else instead. Focus on whole foods in their natural state - they're the only foods our bodies are designed to eat, everything else just puts unnecessary stress on the digestive system and makes your body work harder than it has to.
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Berries are a good choice for lower sugar fruits. Add a handful of berries to a green salad. Try chicken salad with a small chopped green apple added in. When you feel a snack attack have a green apple with a small handful of pecans and some unsweetened coconut flakes - the fats and extra fiber from the nuts and coconut will help temper the fruit sugars as they digest. Keep chopped salads prepped in the fridge so you have something ready to eat when a craving hits. Just squeeze lemon and drizzle a little olive oil over the salad and enjoy!
Take it slowly. Perhaps over the course of a week or two you can cut down the amount of refined sugars you eat in a day. This is a crucial step toward recovering from many illnesses, not only for a candida elimination program.
Go through the cupboards and the fridge and remove the ones you won't be eating, give them away if you can. If you share living space with others, see if you can make one part of the cupboards your own space, and one part of the fridge your own as well.
Get some stevia herb (see link below) and make a delicious tea, which can also be used to sweeten other beverages like coffee or herbal tea. You can use ground stevia leaf in cooking and baking (no, it doesn't taste exactly like sugar, but it does add a welcome sweetness to dishes). Pure stevia actually helps normalize blood sugar levels which will help to reduce cravings. NOTE: If you tend toward low blood sugar and/or low blood pressure then stevia may not be a good choice for you.
There are also liquid and powdered forms of stevia extract available, which are more refined products, but still could be of help during a transition off the refined carbohydrates.
Choose fruit instead of a donut.
Make almond flour muffins or buy a few 100% fruit & nut bars to replace breakfast breads & pastries.
Chose boiled organic potatoes (with their skins please) over white rice. Choose vegetable or salad side dishes instead of a pasta side dish or dinner rolls.
Make homemade lemonade or herbal teas sweetened with stevia instead of drinking sodapop or bottled fruit juice.
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 2
Get rid of bad fats and incorporate more of the good fats into your daily diet instead.
Take a look at the Good Fats vs Bad Fats link for a quick overview.
Good fats are important for everybody, not just people doing a candida elimination.
Fat is an essential nutrient, our bodies need good fat. Our brains need good fat.
Avocados are great. Raw coconut meat is delectable and raw coconut butter is a divine treat. Nuts and seeds moderate amounts are good too.
For oils, just stick with a few basics. Extra virgin olive oil and walnut oil are both good for salads. Macadamia oil is a real treat too. Virgin coconut oil is great for sautéing, and so is avocado oil. Virgin palm oil is a perfect natural source of Vitamin E (it has a very strong flavor, most people prefer the flavor of virgin coconut oil to virgin palm oil for the same healthy fat benefits). A lighter olive oil (not extra virgin) and/or avocado oil are delicious for making a homemade mayonnaise - pretty store-bought mayo is made with undesirable oils.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are the unsaturated omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. They're called “essential” because the body can't make them, we must get them from the foods we eat.
Cold water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, blue cod are the most prevalent sources of Omega 3's but we must be wary of too much fish due to the mercury pollution in the seas which accumulates in the fats of the fish as they grow . Fish oils are the highest source of Omega 3's, plus, many people find fish oil supplements to be indigestible, burping up a fishy taste for hours. Mostly that's due to a poor quality oil supplement that is not fresh. There are some very high quality fish oil products without the heavy metals on the market which may surprise you. I take a lemon flavored cod liver oil from Nordic Naturals, at the beginning of a meal, a few times a week and find it very pleasant. I keep it in the fridge.
Krill oil is a popular alternative to fish oils. Krill are tiny crustaceans living in the ocean which feed off of phytoplankton. Krill oil contains omega fatty acids and is prized for its impressive levels of an antioxidant called astaxanthin, which is in the pigment that gives krill and other crustaceans such as lobster and shrimp their reddish-pink color.
Green lipped mussel oil is gaining popularity as well, touted as being superior to fish oils and krill oil. I haven't tried these newer more "trendy" sea creature oils.
Pastured eggs and grass fed meats such as beef, bison, and lamb have healthy ratios of omega 3/omega 6 our bodies respond well to.
Cage free (pasture fed) organic egg yolks are a great source of healthy fats especially when the yolks are still soft, as in barely cooked, or raw, such as in homemade mayonnaise (yum!). Egg whites are primarily protein, and difficult for some people to digest, or are an allergen to some. Egg whites should not be consumed raw.
The meats, organs and fats of pastured (grass fed) animals are prized in numerous traditional healthy cultures around the globe, and have been for thousands of years. If you do eat organ meats, remember that a little goes a long way - they are super potent! They freeze well, so if you purchase some from a local farmer, you can divide them into small portions for freezing.
Freshly ground flax seeds are a rich source of a precursor Omega 3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Black currant oil and evening primrose oil are natural sources of a fatty acid called gammalinolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fat that is not plentiful in our foods. GLA has anti-inflammatory benefits and is used to treat arthritis, autoimmune disorders and ro healthy skin, hair and nails. Evening primrose oil especially is prized for its healthy effect on hormone regulation for PMS.
Grind raw flax seeds just before using or keep the ground seeds refrigerated, the oils oxidize very quickly when exposed to the air). I make raw flax crackers and keep them on hand for a quick energy boosting snack. Hemp seeds and walnuts also provide some ALA. Remember to enjoy nuts and seeds in moderation, not snacking on them all day every day.
If you eat butter, try to obtain raw butter from pastured cows if you can find it in your area, or organic butter from small farms. Make or purchase some ghee or clarified butter for sauteeing.
Coconut oil is anti-fungal, and it's a concentrated fat. Try a dollop melted over your steamed vegetables, or stirred into soup or stew. Don’t try to eat it on an empty stomach, it can cause nausea and discomfort due to its immediate effect of killing the yeast.
Do you have a weakness for chips and crunchy/salty fried snacks? Get some raw flax crackers to keep in your car, briefcase, handbag etc.. In a pinch try air popped popcorn with a drizzle of butter or coconut oil and sea salt instead. Maybe add a sprinkle of herbs or spices...
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 3
Eliminate all gluten grains from your diet. Phase out any breads, cereals, pastas or other foods made with wheat, barley, rye or oats.
Make a note: Durum flour, couscous, semolina, spelt, kamut, bulghur and triticale (a crossbreed of wheat and rye), are all names for certain kinds of wheat.
Read labels! Gluten is found in so many foods it can make your head spin. It's amazing how much gluten is found in prepared and packaged foods of all kinds.
Beware of ingredients like "starch", it might be corn starch or wheat starch. Other ingredients to avoid are dextrin, malt, maltodextrin, modified food starch, fillers, natural flavoring, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), and hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP). These also can contain gluten.
Make choices when you go shopping that will not bring any new gluten foods into the house. Plan meals which do not involve using any of the gluten grains or their products.
Making wholesome meals at home is the best way to avoid the gluten. When you work with nothing but natural, whole foods, you know exactly what's on your plate.
Grains are a contentious subject in the world of nutrition. They are not an "original" food source for humans. What's an "original" food source for humans? Think of foods you can eat raw in nature (yup, fruits, vegetables, roots, leafy greens, nuts, seeds - you can't walk into a wheat field and eat raw wheat). I personally feel better when I limit all grains to a small portion of my weekly menus, if at all.
If you have to get grainy -- quinoa, buckwheat, and wild rice would be preferred choices.
If you're going to eat cooked whole grains, remember the tips on properly preparing them.
A little farther along this step-by-step guide, if need be, we'll cut out all grains from the menu.
But for now:
Choose quinoa, buckwheat or wild rice instead of pasta. Choose a baked or boiled potato or yam instead of bread.
Instead of oatmeal for breakfast, try something like sliced green apples and berries with a handful of walnuts, or a soft cooked egg, some leftover sweet potato and lightly steamed greens, or make a chia pudding by soaking chia seeds overnight in unsweetened homemade almond milk and adding a dash of cinnamon and stevia stirred in when serving..
Gluten Free Foods List for more information.
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 4
Eliminate sweet fruits. Some people can eat some fruit during a candida elimination program and feel great, others will find they feel better avoiding the sweet fruits for a while until they regain balance.
For those with digestive issues, always eat fruit before other foods. Fruits digest faster than any other foods, so if you're in the habit of eating fruit for dessert, reverse that thinking. Eat fruits before your meal, or eat them as a meal. If you feel you want to avoid sweet fruit, phase them out slowly. Give yourself time to adjust.
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 5
Choose your dairy foods wisely.
Avoid pasteurized, homogenized low fat dairy - these are especially harmful to our health, whether we're doing a candida elimination program or just want to be healthier in general.
Raw butter from pasture grazed animals can offer a boost to compromised immune systems, and also helps the body assimilate fat-soluble vitamins from other foods. Since butter is mostly fat, there’s not much in the way of dairy sugars for the yeast to feed on. So, if you're a butter lover, find a source of raw, pastured butter and enjoy (in moderation please).
Some candida sufferers tolerate fresh, raw (non-pasteurized, non-homogenized) milk very well, and may even find that it speeds healing. For these people, yogurts, kefirs, and even some cheeses are going to be fine. There is a noted link between Vitamin B6 deficiency and candida overgrowth, and raw milk is rich in B6.
However, for others, the dairy sugars in cow milk may still feed the candida (yup, even non-sweetened dairy, we're talking about the sugars naturally present in milk, such as lactose). In this case, you could try raw goat milk or raw sheep milk. Raw meats are rich in vitamin B6, so you could consider making your own beef tartare (a French dish), or carpaccio (Italian). Seek out naturally preserved raw meats like braseola and proscuitto. Or enjoy gravlax and caviar if you prefer fish over meats.
Many people, whether doing a candida elimination program or not, have reported improvements when they eliminate pasteurized milk and milk products. See if it makes a difference for you in your own candida elimination program.
Meanwhile, dairy lovers, please seek out a local source of raw, pastured butter (and milk for those who find that they experience good benefits from it) from healthy cows and clean facilities. In some states you can purchase raw butter and milk in a store, but in many states you must go to the dairy farm and buy it there.
Believe me, it's well worth the effort - both to avoid the offending dairy products and to find a source of real butter and milk.
For more information visit
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 6
Still got yeast? Try eliminating all grains, pseudo-grains and legumes. These include corn, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, brown rice, white rice, wild rice, black beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, edamame...
Believe it or not, a large number of people simply do not tolerate grains and/or legumes. Think about it - we, as humans can eat roots, greens, fruits, vegetables, animal flesh, milk and eggs (the foods of a hunter-gatherer type diet) just as they occur in nature. Just find it and eat it. Our bodies know how to digest and process these foods. We may have been trained from a young age to prefer them cooked, but still, we can digest all these foods raw (in fact, most are richest in vital nutrients in their raw state).
But imagine walking in to a mature wheat field and trying to eat the wheat berries directly from the plants. Or visiting a rice paddy and trying to eat freshly harvested rice or a raw chickpea or black bean straight from the field. You'd be making a lot of trouble for your digestive system, and the rest of your body in turn.
So, get off the grains and and legumes see how you feel in a week or two. If you still are experiencing digestive trouble, or other candida-associated symptoms, continue to the next step.
I know, it sounds like there’s going to be nothing left to eat but there really is! The recipes will help you stay in focus, take advantage of all that free inspiration!
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 7
If you're still not finding relief after eliminating all grains, then it's time to eliminate the rest of the high-carbohydrate vegetables for a while. Get rid of the potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, beets, carrots, peas, yams and sweet potatoes. It won't be forever, just to re-set your system.
Eat the good fats, plenty of non-sweet fruits (peppers, cukes, tomatoes, avocados etc.), leafy salads, low carbohydrate vegetables raw and lightly cooked, daily servings of dark leafy greens, and some healthy proteins in proportions which agree best with you.
If you’ve still been eating a lot of the high-carbohydrate veggies, this step may be another tough one. You’ll most likely go through a few days of feeling lethargic and super-duper hungry! Those first few days can be pretty hard, but it will pass. Yes! It really does happen!
Eat extra servings of salads dressed with good oils, or steamed veggies with raw butter or olive oil. Have a few ripe avocados around for a quick snack. Keep some homemade mayo on hand with some cut up peppers and cukes for dipping. If you can get fresh coconut, slice it up and keep some in the fridge (it will stay fresh for 2 or 3 days).
Eat when you’re hungry! Make guacamole with raw veggies for dipping. Get a spiralizer and make "zoodles" with homemade meat sauce. Keep plenty of salad fixins in the fridge and a ready supply of homemade dressings so you always have good foods to eat when you're hungry.
Remember to eat lots of veggies & non-sweet fruits, greens and three good meals a day including some protein and or healthy fats with each meal.
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 8
Being incorporating probiotic foods.
Have a few tablespoons of raw sauerkraut, kim chi, or your own favorite recipe at the beginning of each meal. It helps get those digestive juices going, and regulates the acidity of the stomach.
Peruse your local health food store’s refrigerated section and see what they offer, or ask someone there to direct you to the “raw fermented foods”. The selection seems to be growing every day!
It can be expensive to buy them pre-made, why not try making some of your own? There are whole books devoted to the subject. I’ve got some delicious recipes, and they’re really easy to do. Plus, its fun to see and taste the transformation in your own kitchen!
Also, the fermented foods are full of excellent probiotics to help restore the healthy flora of the intestines. And since this is a candida elimination program, we're clearing out the candida, which makes more room for those friendly flora!
I recommend eating these foods early in the day, as they are very "active", "alive" foods, and can be too stimulating for some people's digestion to take with the evening meal.
For more information on the benefits of probiotics,
Candida Elimination Program - Diet Step 9
Okay! Now that you’re eating to nourish yourself and starve the candida. If you're still feeling off, it's time to kick some butt. Begin incorporating more anti-fungal foods .
This is another important part of a candida elimination program.
Of course, you’ve probably already been eating some of these, which is great! Now, you can up the dose on these powerhouse foods and get some serious results.
With the increase of the anti-fungal foods you may be experiencing some die-off symptoms. Remember to increase the dose slowly to help minimize the discomfort. And also take advantage of the natural detox tips to get some relief.
Anti-fungal foods section for more information on which foods to include.
If you still have symptoms of candida after incorporating all the steps outlined above, there is one final step to try: eliminate all nuts and seeds for a few days from your diet.
Pure vegetarians should probably not go longer than a week. If you eat other sources of protein you can leave nuts and seeds off the menu for longer.
This approach allows you to make changes gradually, always paying attention along the way to which changes really help, and which ones make little to no difference for you.
Leaving out the highly processed foods, sugary snacks, and sodas, caffeinated energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, bad fats,
Remember, everyone is different. Please use these guidelines as just that -- "Guidelines".
If you do end up cutting out the starchy vegetables and go on a very low carbohydrate menu please remember that an extreme low carbohydrate diet is not sustainable. Don't remain on an extreme low carb diet for long (maximum 2-3 weeks). Do it for a reset, if you feel you need that, but then start reincorporating the more starchy foods back in for your healthy meal plan. The more active you are physically the more healthy carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, winter squashes, fresh fruits) your body will need.
Make good use of all the recipes here to keep it fun and fresh.
Eat well and enjoy!