Your Candida Meal Plan should be an anti-inflammatory diet, aimed to remove potential Candida Overgrowth triggers that is rich in healthy proteins and fats, lots of non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, females ages 19-30 need about 1,800-2,400 calories per day, while males need about 2,400-3,400 calories per day (1). After the age of 31 and through 59, the calorie needs are lower and reduced by about 200 calories per day.
The daily recommended dietary pattern for a 1,600-2,600 calorie requirement is:
- Proteins: 5 – 7 oz
- Grains: 5 – 9 oz
- Vegetables: 2 – 3 1/2 cups
- Fruits: 1 1/2 – 2 cups
- Dairy: 3 cups
- Oils: 22 – 34 grams
These are just suggested amounts, but they can give you a good idea of how much to eat from each food group on the “Foods to Eat” list. A good rule of thumb is to include proteins, fats, and carbs with each big meal.
If you stick to whole, unprocessed foods, you should be able to consume reasonable quantities and stay satiated throughout the day. It’s important to choose the right kind of foods that will help you eliminate Candida Overgrowth and improve your gut health.
Non-starchy vegetables are an important part of the Candida Meal Plan. They are low in sugar and carbohydrates, which helps to starve off the Candida yeast. They are also high in fiber, which helps to promote a healthy digestive system. Furthermore, non-starchy vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy immune system.
Vegetables that are higher in carbohydrates can still be part of a healthy diet, as long as they have a high fiber content. Use the NET Carbs formula to find out the total carb content of your vegetables which is Total carbs minus Fiber for your portion size.
Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber
The biggest issue when cooking vegetables is that they lose:
- water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and a whole complex of B vitamins
- fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
- minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Eating raw vegetables when possible is the best way to preserve all nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. However, some vegetables like spinach or asparagus allow you to absorb more antioxidants when they are cooked. To get the most out of your vegetables, consume them raw or steamed.
Boiling vegetables causes the most vitamins and minerals to be lost because they seep into the water. For example boiling Broccoli results in up to 55% loss of vitamin C (2).
Microwaving results only in a 20-30% reduction of vitamin C, while retaining the antioxidant qualities of the garlic.
Roasting and baking is another great way to preserve vitamin C loss.
Stir-frying significantly reduces vitamin C content, but it improves the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as A and E (3).
Here is the list of non-starchy vegetables with their Total Carb and NET Carb content (per 100 g):
- Alfalfa sprouts 2.1 g / 0.2 g
- Arugula 3.7 g / 2.1 g
- Asparagus 3.9 g / 1.8 g
- Broccoli 6.6 g / 4.0 g
- Brussels sprouts 7.1 g / 4.5 g
- Cabbage 5.8 g / 2.8 g
- Carrots 9.6 g / 6.8 g
- Cauliflower 5 g / 3 g
- Celery 3.0 g / 1.4 g
- Cucumber 3.6 g / 3.1 g
- Eggplant 5.9 g / 2.9 g
- Garlic (raw) 44.4 g / 41.6 g
- Kale 4.4 g / 0.3 g
- Lettuce 3.3 g / 1.2 g
- Mushrooms 5 g / 1.7 g
- Onions 9.3 g / 8.6 g
- Radicchio 4.5 g / 3.6 g
- Radishes 3.9 g / 2 g
- Soybean sprouts 9.6 g / 8.5 g
- Spinach 3.6 g / 1.2 g
- Spring mix 3.5 g / 2.3 g
- Sugar snap peas 7.1 g / 4.7 g
- Swiss chard 3.7 g / 2.1 g
- Tomatoes 3.9 g / 2.7 g
- Turnips 6.4 g / 4.6 g
- Watercress 1.3 g / 0.8 g
- Zucchini 3.1 g / 2.1 g
Gluten Free Grains
Avoiding gluten is the key reason for limiting grains to non-glutenous varieties or so-called pseudo-grains. The Meal Plan article contains a comprehensive explanation of the rationale for this idea. However, many non-glutenous grains are high on the glycemic index scale, that is they can cause a dramatic spike in blood sugar. For this reason, it’s best to limit the quantity of non-glutenous grains at each meal to keep blood sugar levels relatively consistent throughout the day. The USDA Dietary Guidelines can be used as an approximation for portion sizes.
Here is the list of non-glutenous grains and flours:
- Basmati rice
- Oat bran
- Oatmeal porridge
The Candida Meal Plan aims to reduce the amount of starchy carbs and any amount of processed foods. These foods are usually higher in calories and tend to spike blood sugar much more dramatically that low-starch carbs. By eliminating starchy foods from your diet, you will notice that you have more calories available for eating protein-rich foods and fats. It’s beneficial to stay within your suggested daily calorie intake and take advantage of these extra available calories to eat nutritious foods that will nourish and rev up your metabolism. There’s no need to go on significant calorie reductions below your daily calorie needs as it can slow down your metabolism and hinder your progress towards eliminating Candida Overgrowth.
When it comes to choosing your proteins, go with organic whenever you can. In order for companies to label their meat as certified USDA Organic, the animals are NOT subjected to antibiotics and are fed 100 percent organic food. The Candida Meal plan goes into detail on why it’s best to avoid antibiotics in foods and antibiotic resistance here.
USDA Organic and 100% Grass-fed meat is the best option. Grass-fed meat producers must follow stricter requirements for raising animals and allowing them to graze on pastures. Additionally, Grass-fed beef is lower in calories (due to less fat content) and has more Omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef (4).
Wild-caught seafood is often preferred over farmed seafood. It’s been documented that farmed fish can have nutritional deficiencies (5). Thus, it’s preferable to choose wild-caught varieties to get a better nutritional profile. At the same token, wild-caught fish can have higher toxicity levels than farmed fish. In 2020 study, it was confirmed that mercury and arsenic levels are lower in farmed than in wild salmon (6). Small-sized fish, such as sardines or herring, have lower levels of heavy metals and toxins. Larger fish like tuna, shark and swordfish tend to live longer, thus have more time to accumulate heavy metals. So it’s best to avoid them.
Eggs are a fantastic snack that you can enjoy throughout the day, not just for breakfast. You may cook a large quantity of them at once and consume them as a healthy snack throughout the day. They can be stored for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.
Organic, free-range are preferred over conventional eggs because they have 3 times more Omega-3 fatty acids, 2 times more of vitamin E and 40% more of vitamin A (7). This is because chickens are grown without antibiotics and hormones. They are also given a pesticide-free feed and access to outdoors.
Eating healthy fats is essential for our health and is included in the Candida Meal Plan.
Healthy fats help to satiate hunger by slowing down the absorption of food from the stomach into the small intestine. By keeping us satiated, we are less likely to have unhealthy cravings later on. This is especially important when trying to stick to a Candida diet, as cravings can be strong!
A diet that is rich in healthy fats helps your body to better absorb vitamins and minerals from other foods. This is because fatty acids are essential for the proper function of cell membranes, including those that line the gut. The presence of healthy fats in the digestive tract helps to improve nutrient absorption, which is crucial in the fight against Candida Overgrowth.
Meat and Seafood
Fats are present in fatty meat cuts, such as rib-eye or pork belly, and in seafood like salmon (smoked or fresh) or sardines. Beware of consuming too much fat in one day by overlooking the total amount of fat and calories present in these types of meals. This is because protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, while fat has 9 calories per gram. For example, if you are planning to eat a fatty meat cut for the evening, choose a leaner protein option for lunch.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of fats in addition to their protein content. It’s very easy to overeat on nuts (and calories), especially while binging on a great TV show. Even though the suggested serving size is 1.5 ounces, it’s not uncommon for people to eat double or triple that amount. A one-ounce serving size of nuts generally contains around 200 calories, of which up to 90 percent is fat (8).
Here’s a quick list of low-mold nuts:
- Chia Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Sunflower seeds
In addition to fats found in meat, seafood, and nuts, the Candida Meal Plan incorporates healthy fats from fruits. What type of oils are we talking about? Olive and Coconut oil – both of which may surprise you by being classified as fruits instead of vegetables.
Olive Oil is an anti-inflammatory, antifungal oil that is versatile. It can be used for cooking and as a salad dressing. It’s one of the key ingredients in a Mediterranean diet. Not only does olive oil fight Candidiasis, but it also provides an innumerable amount of health benefits. It’s a great item to have in anyone’s cupboard. The optimal choice is to select 100 percent pure olive oil, but be mindful that not all olive oils are the same. Always check the label to confirm that it contains only olive oil. Some manufacturers will list olive oil on the front label, but actually use a blend of different oils in their products. The only way to be certain you’re consuming high-quality extra virgin olive oil is by tasting it. Generally, high-quality olive oil will have a biting taste on the tongue, and you may feel a slight bitterness in your throat.
Coconut Oil is antimicrobial and antifungal against Candida and is another great versatile option for cooking or baking. It made the Antifungals list of the Candida Meal Plan because it contains Caprylic Acid, which is very powerful in fighting Candida Overgrowth. When choosing coconut oil, USDA Organic, extra-virgin, and cold-pressed unrefined options are preferable. Something to keep in mind is that coconut oil becomes solid at 76 F or 24 C.
Butter and ghee (clarified butter) are also great sources of healthy fats in moderation. Ghee has the highest smoke point of 482 F compared to the rest of the oils mentioned here. It’s great for cooking and frying and won’t burn at higher temperatures like butter does. Butter is great as a snack on a gluten-free toast or melted over steamed low-starch vegetables.
Flaxseed oil is not only antifungal but also has many other health benefits such as reduction of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune and neurological disorders (9) (10). Flax oil should be used gradually, starting with half a teaspoon. It can either be added to shakes or gluten-free baked goods or taken on its own.
Sesame oil adds great taste to stir-fried vegetables or drizzled soups. It has antimicrobial properties and inhibits Candida albicans growth (11).
It’s full of antioxidants like vitamin E, phytosterols, and lignans that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells and cause aging. Sesame oil has a balanced ratio of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-3-rich foods tend to increase inflammation if they are not balanced out with omega-6 fatty acids, which is why it’s important to eat a diet that includes both.
Low Sugar Fruits
Sugar is the primary source of food for Candida albicans, so it’s essential to keep sugar intake low during the first phases of the Candida Meal Plan. Once you’re no longer experiencing the negative side effects of Candida die-off, and you feel that your overall condition has improved, you’ll be able to incorporate a wider variety of fruits into your diet. It is advisable to limit your intake of added sugar following the Candida elimination diet to reduce the likelihood of your symptoms returning.
While Candida albicans can metabolize most forms of sugar, it prefers Glucose and Fructose.
Fruits contain Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose, which is a combination of glucose and fructose.
Sucrose and Glucose are significant contributors to Candida albicans growth, whereas Fructose can act as a contributor and inhibitor of Candida at the same time (12). For example, one study indicated that Fructose can induce prescription antifungal resistance in Candida albicans, while another study showed that fructose-containing food may prevent the development of Candidiasis (13) (14). This shouldn’t be confused with a high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or added sugars, as the fructose in fruit is different than the fructose in HFCS.
The initial assumption would be to exclude all fruits for the duration of the Candida Meal Plan, but that would remove all the health benefits that fruits provide. They are packed with antioxidants that relieve inflammation, are a good source of fiber, and contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
A better solution is to focus on low-sugar fruits that have a higher nutrient-to-sugar ratio.
This ensures you’re still getting the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your body needs while limiting your intake of sugar.
Did you know that tomatoes and cucumbers are actually fruits? They are technically classified as berries because they have multiple seeds and grow on vines.
Some of the best low-sugar fruits include (with sugar content per 100 g):
- Avocado 0.7 g
- Lemons 2.5 g
- Limes 1.7 g
- Tomatoes 2.6 g
- Cucumbers 1.7 g
- Cranberries (fresh) 4.3 g
- Olives 0 g
- Raspberries 4.4 g
- Blackberries 4.9 g
- Strawberries 4.9 g
- Grapefruit 7 g
- Kiwifruit 9 g
- Apples 10.4 g
- Plums 9.9 g
- Peaches 8.2 g
- Nectarines 7.9 g