Category Archives: General

The Candida Diet 2

 

This is further to my previous post…..

I have recently realized that interchanging my existing Lunch and Dinner menus would be a better idea. There are two reasons behind this;

1) Eating meat should be better during lunch as it takes time to digest, and it is recommended to eat concentrated protein meals, esp meats, during 11 am and 2 pm, as per Body ecology diet. Dinners are better off with an all vegetarian dishes and grains, which are properly cooked. It’s easier on our detox organs that way.

2) The whole family eats together at Dinner and they can relish more of Indian food, when they are  together.

I have made another change in the diet…..removed most of the flours, except little bit of chickpea flour as binder, sometimes. The reason behind this change is that, when we buy ready made flours, the grains are not soaked before grinding, which renders it difficult to digest, due to the presence of Phytic acid. Soaking the grains removes Phytic acid and hence the grains become more digestible. I generally soak my Millets and Quinoa for 12 hours, before cooking them. So, no more Rotis and Pooris!! My children and husband are obviously not happy about it, but they are compelled to eat as per the new diet rules…….I have just put my foot down!! Although I have promised them that they will get their Indian breads once in a while, on special occasions.

My new diet plan looks something like this now…….

7:30 am: Breakfast: Eggs + Veggies (variations in the sauce for stir fries) OR a single dish made with eggs and veggies+ Green smoothie (See my grain free breakfast posts)

There are some days when my folks want to eat grains in the Breakfast. Menu then changes as Quinoa and veggies upma/pulao and a smoothie, instead of eggs.

10:30 am: Snack 1: Flavored Almond milk  or a dessert made with almond milk and a veggie( I usually make Bottle Gourd kheer/halwa, Carrot kheer/halwa).

12:30 pm: Lunch: A veggie soup (you may use bone broth instead of water, for the soup) + Grilled Chicken or fish or any other chicken or fish main dish + stir fried veggies without any sauce + Raw salads (I generally make shredded salads with cucumber, carrots and radish, and an Apple cider vinegar/olive oil dressing)

3:30 pm: Snack 2: Veggie cutlets, Savoury veggie pancakes or savoury muffins + herbal tea

6:30 pm Dinner: Boiled millets + thin Daal soup with veggies or greens + 2 types of veg dishes (contains at least 4-5 types of veggies)

BED stage 1 dinner

9:00 pm: Snack 3: (In case my kid stays awake till then; and otherwise for other folks in my house): An all vegetable soup like onion soup, Bottle gourd/Zucchini/squash/pumpkin soup, etc. One may choose to give bone broth soup too at this time. It is so very healing!!!

The MCT oil or VCO is of course an integral part of every main meal as mentioned in my previous post.

Hope this simplified version of our meal plan will make life a little easier for all my fellow moms. I will try to post the recipes of all dishes I make. Please give me some more time. We are moving to a new place and it may take some time for me to get back on track. Till then please give your suggestions and comments. I will try to incorporate all in my following posts.

The Candida diet – our story

Introduction

Candida overgrowth has been a menace for me and my kiddo since quite long. I have had a long history of antibiotic treatment of my childhood bronchitis and strep throat, due to which my gut is in a very bad shape. I have systemic candida, which is a major reason for my sinusitis, migraine, Acid reflux,and Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) since 20 odd years or more. My kiddo has a similar history of prolonged antibiotic treatment till 5-7 years of age, due to similar issues. It is worth mentioning here, that his first regression started at the age of 2 years, when he was treated for his recurrent ear and throat infections and wheezing, for about 6 months i.e. 18 months to 24 months. The most common antibiotics used for him were Augmentin and Cefalexin, during this period. Little did I know that all this will lead to such a prolonged struggle to eradicate Candida!!!

My kiddo too has a very bad gut. We got his stools tested for candida (GI effects test at Metametrix lab, USA) and it was double positive. The gut flora too was skewed. We were also thinking of getting the OATS test done for him, but this testing thing has been draining us so much financially that we did not go for it. Anyways, we had all the symptoms in him to confirm that: e.g.inappropriate laughter, sleep disturbances, bed wetting, aggression, hyperactivity, high pitched squealing, jumping, running, tiptoe walking, sugar cravings, gas/bloating, stimming, etc. Since we did not treat candida so very well initially, I feel it has become systemic for him too. Now, at the age of 12 years he is having dandruff, toenail infections and thrush too.

 

So…… we have a very long and difficult road ahead!!! I had been doing the GFCFSF diet for him all these years alongwith biomedical treatments, but not much improvement was seen. In fact, his hyperactivity and restlessness increased manifold after MB12 and oral DMSA chelation, suggested by our DAN doctor.  We had also done homeopathy with which he improved a bit, and then plateaued. We started with a natural healing protocol for him in June 2013 and also started new DIETS and supplements, so as to drive candida to death, through all possible means.

 

There are a lot of posts and websites which will give you a fair idea about Candida overgrowth and various methods people have adopted to get rid of it.  Diet is one of the most important aspects when you are dealing with Candida. Some of my favorite websites to read more are: http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/what-is-yeast-overgrowth/ , http://bodyecology.com/the-body-ecology-diet-book.html, http://www.gaps.me/ , http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/ and many more blogs and websites. Hence, I am not repeating all that in my post. When I did my research and discussed with other autism parents, in a similar situation, I found that following a well balanced and easily digestible low carb/low starch diet was the key, alongwith other methods of killing candida,  replenishing the gut flora and strengthening the immune system. I will not go deep into the technical aspects of how candida gets eradicated, when we do this kind of diet, but simple explanation is that Starches/carbs/sugars feed candida, and when you deprive it of its food, it eventually dies off!! So, that was the basis of formulating the diet for my kiddo and me. Our diet is still evolving as there are continuous changes in likes and dislikes, family circumstances, resources and new researches.

The diet

GAPS!!!

When we started the healing protocol for my kid, we also needed to do grain free diet along with that. It was recommended that we follow the GAPS diet if we could. So, a decision was taken and all the grains were stopped slowly, many other restrictions were there in the choice of vegetables, lentils/pulses, etc (look up the GAPS diet legal foods list if interested) and Bone broth was to be included. It was a huge change for us as Indian food usually contains grains as staple food. Now, if there’s no grain, how would we fill our stomach? The obvious answer was Egg, meat, fish and of course vegetables. As recommended in GAPS diet, we changed our eating style, Proteins became our staple, cooked vegetables would be on the side and lots of bone broth to drink. I can share a sample diet here, which we used to follow:

Breakfast: {1 egg omlette with finely chopped greens and other veggies + avocado and coconut milk smoothie} OR {Mixed dals cheela added with grated veggies and coriander leaves + avocado-coconut chutney} OR {Zucchini or Carrot fritters (added with 1 egg and 1 tbsp almond flour) + avocado smoothie}

Snack 1:{1 cup broth + lentil chips/crackers} OR {1 cup broth + Banana chips} OR {Salad sticks with Hummus/coconut yogurt dip}

Lunch:{Boneless chicken breast steak (marinate and roast) + cauliflower mash} OR {Steamed or grilled fish + steamed and tossed veggies}

Snack 2: {Veggie cutlets+ nut milk/coconut yogurt lassi} OR {Pakode/dal vada/etc + nut milk/coconut yogurt lassi}

Dinner: Veggie soup with Bone broth + {Chicken casserole} OR {same as lunch}

Fortunately we are non-vegetarians so this was easier for us…..I don’t know how vegetarians/vegans do this diet!!!

We started the diet with a determination, and hence were able to pull off for quite some time. Some of my issues with this diet were

1)     My kiddo is a foodie and loves to eat anything and everything. Which meant the complete family would have to do the diet together or else it would fail. My kiddo would feel unhappy, grab from others and sometimes cry and become aggressive too. So we decided to do the diet as a family!!

2)     My husband and older son were not as determined and hence started objecting to the menus very soon. They also started craving for grains and hence ate out a lot. Sometimes they would bring some breads/ croissants home, after the younger kiddo slept off. The leftover resulted in diet infraction for my kiddo, the next day, quite a number of times.

3)     My mother-in-law is a vegetarian, so, I had to cook separately for her. Her food was not changed at all which meant she would have to eat separately (at a different time or in a different room). She used to be unhappy about that, and most of the times we ended up eating together (to make her happy), and my kiddo getting angry at not being able to eat whatever Grandma was eating.

4)     We were missing our Indian vegetable and non vegetarian curries which are mixed with rice and eaten or eaten with rotis. Although we were eating almost all the vegetables, we used to eat previously, the preparations/recipes were quite different and the Indian delicacies were being missed.

My kiddo was doing great on the GAPS diet. His yeasty behavior was quite under control, barring a few instances when he had diet infractions. After every diet infraction, he would regress in his behavior and I had to endure it till he would overcome it with time. This was the time I decided to introduce millets. Why millets? Because they are mildly alkaline in nature and not acidic like rice. For eradicating Candida or for that matter any pathogens in our body, we need to have our body alkaline…..we need to eat more foods which have an alkaline ash. Most of the proteins are already acidic in nature, hence we need to eat grains, vegetables and fruits which are alkaline. Millets were easy to cook and would easily replace steamed rice. Millet, Buckwheat and Amaranth flours would yield good Indian breads too. This made easier to re-introduce our Indian dishes in our diet and my folks were happier.

What about candida…..after introduction of millets? Well, I could see an obvious deterioration in his behaviors, esp stimming and occasional giggling. There was a change in attention and focus too. But it had not gone back to what it was before starting GAPS diet. Actually we were still doing the broths, still eating meat/fish/egg as main course and then would eat small amounts of millet with our favorite veggies.

Enter seizures!!!!

Suddenly in October 2013, my kiddo started having seizures, for the first time in his life. Our Neurologist diagnosed Myoclonic seizures and prescribed seizure medicines for him. He also warned us regarding his diet and told us about high ammonia in blood, sometimes causing seizures. He recommended low intake of protein, because protein metabolism produces ammonia and if the liver is stressed or the urea cycle is skewed, the ammonia levels in the blood may rise, which may in turn lead to seizures. Damn!! Did we screw up his systems with so much protein in the diet?!! I don’t know, but now it was time to re-design the meals.

Body Ecology Diet!

One of my facebook friends and a mother of two autistic kids, recommended this diet to me. I read the book, learnt the principles and was quite convinced that this was going to help my kid and is doable too. Although, it talks primarily about introduction of fermented foods in the diet, I was excited more about the food combining and the 80:20 rules (Please refer to the book to know more if interested. I love these pages too!  http://www.trueactivist.com/6-food-combining-rules-for-optimal-digestion/ and http://bodyecology.com/articles/80-20_rule_essential_to_diet.php#.U7Lo4oaQaE ). The guidelines of the diet helped me reduce Protein as well as starchy carbs and increase non starchy veggies. Best thing was that we could keep our Millets, Buckwheat and Amaranth. Hence an Indian meal plan with a little tweak in combinations and quantities would work very well here. I was very excited….all my issues were getting resolved, with a promise to eradicate Candida too! Phew!!!!

I have not started the fermented foods recommended in the diet yet, as we have poor access to the Body Ecology products here in India, but the meal philosophy is now in place. It’s working quite well now. My kiddo is much more connected, attentive and focused. He is less hyperactive and has very little yeasty behavior left.

Our current meal plan looks something like this:

8:00 am Breakfast: {1 egg + Stir fried vegetables (sauce to vary daily)} OR {Millet Idli/Dosa + Sambar + Chutney} OR {GF poori Vegetable curry}

10:30 am Snack 1: Soaked almonds or almond milk

12:30 pm Lunch: {Boiled Millets + Thin Dal soup + 2 types of vegetable dishes (should contain at least 4-5 types of veggies)} OR {Millet Khichdi/Bisibele bhath(with lots of veggies) + Pan seared veggies + coconut Yogurt}

2:30 pm Snack 2: Crackers/salad sticks + dip

4:30 pm Snack 3: {Quinoa/millet upma with lots of veggies} OR {vegetable cutlets with dip} OR {veggie toast (on Flax bread)}

7:30 pm Dinner: {Chicken & veggie stew} OR {Chicken & veggie Paleo casserole} OR {Grilled chicken/tikka + Stir fried veggies} OR {GF Roti/Paratha + I veggie dish containing at least 2-3 types of veggies + Raw salads}

I am intending to add the fermented foods very soon, to complete the diet. Till then I am giving Digestive enzymes and probiotic capsules to my kid. I also give MCT oil as a supplement as it is known to help kill candida. Many people give Raw Virgin coconut oil instead, as VCO too contains MCT oil. I also make sure we eat steamed, baked, pan seared or grilled food and try to limit frying. This is because frying makes the food acidic and we don’t want that (as explained earlier)!! You may want to look up the acidic – alkaline foods list to understand this better, and the Body ecology diet book too explains how to balance the meals, so that the overall health improves!!

Happy healing!!

GFCFSF food groups and raw materials

In my last post I had mentioned about the GFCF and grain free food menus. I thought I will share our usual GFCF meal practices and some basic information about the raw materials I would use for making them. When I used to make my meal plan, I would make sure we ate similar stuff what we’ve grown up eating (just replace the restricted ingredients with appropriate or legal ingredients) because I feel the plan is more sustainable, when done like that. Also, it reduces the chances of occasional indulgence and resulting diet infraction, because the kid is already satisfied!!

So, jumping straight to the food groups, relevant to Indian families:

1)      Staple;  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner:

  • Rice of various types: Plain rice, pulao, biriyani, teheri, lemon / tomato /coconut rice
  • Roti/paratha/poori: made with millet, buckwheat, sorghum, tapioca or arrowroot starch and flaxseeds.
  • Dosa/Uthappam: made with Urad dal and Millet.
  • Idli; with or without grated veggies, base would be Urad dal and Millet.
  • Puttu : made with rice flour or millet flour
  • Adai/Pesarattu: made with various dals whole or husked
  • Appam: made with rice and coconut milk
  • Idiyappam: made with rice flour or millet flours
  • Khichdis/Bisibelebhath: made with Millet /Rice and dals

2)      Dals and Curries:

  • Plain dal; North Indian, Gujarati, South Indian
  • Rasam/Sambhar, various types
  • Whole pulses: chhole, rajma,  whole mung, Black channa
  • Koottu with veggies/leafy veggies
  • Vegetable dals; like lauki dal as made in North India
  • Poriyals, Stir fries, Bhartas
  • Curries/gravies, various types
  • Mixed vegetables like Aviyal, Chadchadi, shukto etc
  • Koftas; veg / non-veg

3)      Brunch or evening snacks:

  • Venn Pongal
  • Sundal; can make different varieties with various whole pulses
  • Uppuma made with Millet rava and veggies
  • Semiyan Uppuma or seasoned Idiyappam made with Rice/millet semiyan/Idiyappam
  • Cutlets/chops; veg/ nonveg
  • Savoury Kozhakattai/ momo; filled with Dal mixture, spicy potato or Chicken
  • Rice Paper spring rolls
  • Pakoras/bhajjis
  • Crunchy snacks like potato/plantain chips, Murukku, ribbon pakoda, Bhujia sev, etc
  • Medu Vada

4)      Chutneys/dips/spreads and raitas (freshly made; no pickles are allowed):

  • Coconut chutney/Tomato chutney/Brinjal chutney/Paruppu /dal chutney
  • Raitas of choice using coconut milk curd
  • Tomato/capsicum salsa/guacamole/avocado chutney with coconut
  • Yogurt dip/GFCF mayonnaise
  • Tahini/Hummus

5)      Other food menus (Occasional):

  • Soup +Grilled Fish/chicken + Steamed/stir fried veggies
  • Egg + GFCF Bread+ Steamed/stir fried veggies
  • Veggie /chicken casserole + Garlic Bread
  • GFCF Pizza + Raw salads
  • Soup + GFCF Wrap

6)      Sweet treats:

  • Sweet Pongal/Chakkarai pongal
  • Millet rava halwa with some fruits
  • Mung dhal halwa
  • Nuts/ dried fruits halwa
  • Singhada halwa
  • Cakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles
  • Pies/tarts
  • Cookies
  • Mouse/panna cotta/fruit yogurt

7)      Drinks:

  • Smoothies, various types
  • Chhachh (made from coconut milk curd)
  • Almond Milk
  • Mocktails; various types made with fresh juices
  • Hot Broth ; Chicken/vegetables

 

Here is the list of raw materials I use for making the above foods

  • Grains/seeds/flours to be avoided are
  1. wheat , including wheat flour, maida, rava
  2. rye/barley
  3. Oats; oat flour found in some of the health food stores are Gluten free though
  4. Corn and corn flour
  5. Soybeans, soymilk and soyflour
  • Grains/seeds/flours to be eaten are
  1. Rice (minimize white rice and try to use brown rice and flour as far as possible)
  2. Millets; all kinds are good: includes little millet, foxtail millet, Kodo millet, Ragi/finger millet, Bajra /Pearl millet
  3. Quinoa
  4. Buckwheat (Kuttu)flour
  5. Waterchestnut (Singhada) flour
  6. Tapioca flour/starch
  7. Arrowroot starch
  8. Sorghum/Jowar flour
  9. Amaranth/rajgeera flour
  10. Nut flours, esp almond flour, coconut flour
  11. Readymade GF flours available at health food stores and websites
  • Milk and milk products to be avoided; Ghee is ok , better if made at home but organic ghee found at health food stores are good.
  • Milk/milk product substitutes used by us are
  1. Almond milk
  2. Coconut milk
  3. Coconut milk curd
  • Oils used are
  1. Organic coconut oil for South Indian curries, deep and shallow frying
  2. Organic extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil for raw dressings, baking and greasing
  3. Extra virgin Olive oil for vegetable stir fries and grilled veggies/chicken/fish
  4. Organic cold pressed Mustard oil for North Indian curries
  • Sweet dishes can be made using raw wild honey and maple syrup in moderate quantities(don’t use if cooking/heating),  Stevia or Xylitol. Avoid all forms of sugar, including jaggery, palm and coconut sugar, etc.
  • Iodized table salt can be replaced with Himalayan Salt or Sea salt as far as possible.
  • All other ingredients like Dals/ pulses/lentils, spices and Fruits/vegetables : try to use fresh produce and organic as far as possible.

Hope the above compilation will be useful to people who are just starting and are clueless about how and where to start. If you have decided to start the diet, please go very very slow in removing restricted ingredients and slowly introduce the legal ones. This will be less overwhelming to the kids as well as the parent. Happy healing!!!!

 

Introduction to the Autism Diet

It was June 2005, when my son Debashish was formally diagnosed as having severe Autism, at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. Dr. Udani, a renowned Pediatric Neurologist in India, was the one who did the diagnosis, based on the reports given by the Child Development centre, at the hospital. He recommended several conventional therapies, some basic supplements and GFCF diet.

At this time, Debashish was extremely hyperactive, had severe sleep issues and was absolutely mute. The only sounds that came out of his mouth was high pitched squealing. Just to mention that he was not always mute, before that. He was a typically developing kid till 18 months of age and then he started regressing. Lost all his speech by 3 years of age and sensory and behavioral issues set in.

We had very limited autism resources in Vadodara, where we were based at that time. Hence I had to visit the therapists in Mumbai, learn the techniques from them and apply on my kid. I was doing all this and hoping that we could move to a better place where we could have better resources. In the meantime, I also started the recommended supplements and GFCF diet.

As we come from eastern and north of India, it was a real challenge to follow the diet, as we had to remove wheat and milk completely from the kid’s diet. But I wanted to do everything that was recommended, so that there were no stones unturned.  So the decision was taken and work started!! It was easy to remove milk as my kid had taken to drinking Soy milk. I took one step at a time and slowly removed all casein from his diet by the end of 3 months, replacing each milk product with Soy products.  I did not see any change in his behavior by removing all casein, but his bowels were  more regular and better formed now.  Now this SOY stuff is a little tricky!! It seems that most of the soy produced in the world today is GMO. But didn’t know about that then, so I kept feeding him soy instead of milk. It was much later that I came to know about Almond milk and coconut milk, which I now use for my kid, home made of course, as the store bought ones have many additives.

Simultaneously I had also started removing the Sugar laden wheat products, like biscuits, cakes, cookies, etc, as I had read about sugar contributing to worsening of symptoms, my kid already had.  I kept jaggery though as a replacement, whenever I made kheer, halwa etc. Little did I know that jaggery too had equally bad effect!!

After casein was completely removed, I started aggressively on Gluten. Rotis were easily replaced with rice and Poha/Chivda, Sooji/rava was replaced with rice rava for making upma and halwa. Birthdays were celebrated in traditonal Bengali style only, so that we could feed him  Payesh or Kheer and there would be no need for cake.

Gluten was completely removed from his diet by the end of another 6 months, and by then my kid had started sleeping well, was less hyperactive and had started imitating a few words, which was HUGE! So Gluten it is!! It has been a big thing for us to have removed gluten from his diet. From imitation, he moved to talking spontaneously using single words and small phrases and my kid was now VERBAL. That had not happened overnight or just due to the diet though. It has been a rigorous work using ABA too. But yes, first words came with gluten removal.

 

This is how it continued till he turned 6, but just after that he started demanding for the regular items we used to have. If denied, he would just grab (rather try to grab). We started getting these complaints from school too and there was pressure on me to discontinue the diet, so that the kid’s behavior is good at school. How could I do that? I kept fighting for the cause and just did not budge.  This eventually led to my experiments in the diet and I can proudly say that the results are quite close to the real dishes, if not the same!! My kid is now satisfied and his grabbing behavior is gone, as he knows there are goodies for him too, which taste yummm…!

I will be giving my recipes in my subsequent posts and hope that others will find them useful. Presently I am following Gluten free, Casein free, Sugar free, Soy and Corn (as both are mostly GMO) free diet for my kid. I have also tried grain free for some time and found that it had really helped in  his yeasty behavior, like stimming, giggling, etc. I will be sharing my grain free meal plans and giving those recipes too. I wanted to write all this down as I see few Indian menus and recipes, when I search GFCF and grain free diets on the net, and hence can understand the reluctance by most parents to follow the diet.

Following this path is not easy but its definitely worth it. You will feel its worth when you see that difference in your kid!! So, go for it warrior moms!!!