Are the Foods You’re Eating Slowly Killing You? Part 2: Sugar

In this new series of posts, I am debunking common myths about food, beliefs that I use to have myself. If you didn’t catch Part 1, you can go read it here.

Today I am sharing all about an important topic that seems to be the hardest one to get out of our diets: sugar! Why should we avoid sugar? How do our bodies react to sugar? And what can we eat in replace of sugar?

I’m sharing all of that today! So let’s dive right in…

Just Say No to Sugar

You probably guessed it already, but sugar is the enemy, not fat, as I mentioned in my last post.. And sugar goes by a variety of different names making it easy for manufacturers to hide how much sugar is truly in a given product.

ThatSugarFilm.com stated:

“When reading a label, it’s important to check the ingredients list and look out for any of the sugars listed. Often SUGAR will be on the list but companies are getting cheeky now and are using these other names like ‘evaporated cane juice’ or ‘organic palm sugar’ as a disguise and to avoid the word SUGAR. These are still an added ‘free sugar’ and usually contain fructose as a sweetener.”

Dangers of Sugar

There are many dangers to having too much sugar. For one, it may cause heart problems. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathered information to identify what could happen when we consume too much sugar. Their results indicated “that most U.S. adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet, resulting in a higher risk cardiovascular disease mortality.”

Diabetes is probably the most concerning when it comes to excessive amounts of sugar. Our liver converts sugar into energy, but when we consume too much sugar, our liver simply cannot metabolize it, thus metabolic syndrome occurs and our bodies become insulin resistant. 

Another trend on the rise is Candida overgrowth, which can occur because of too much sugar, stress, antibiotics, and other factors. I personally was diagnosed with Systemic Candidiasis in November of 2019. It had been growing and happening for a few years. Sugar, even in natural form from fruits, can be damaging when excessively consumed. I was in survival mode as a mother and heavily neglected my body. I ate too much fruit and not enough vegetables and drank too many sweetened caffeinated drinks from a popular coffee chain. I knew I was harming my body, but I kept on consuming and eating too much sugar. I knew better. I go into more detail about my healing journey with Systemic Candida here:

What is Candida?

My Healing Journey I’ve stated in the past that I have been battling many health issues. One of which is Systemic Candida…that means it is in my blood. Everyone, EVERYONE, has Candida. However, it is contained in the gut and in a good balance. However, as soon as you add antibiotics, sugar, gluten, stress, anxiety, … Read More

Since eliminating sugar from my diet (including most fruits) in November of 2019, my Candida is almost completely healed! I have been able to reintroduce some more fruits into my diet as well as other foods that were “banned” from the strict Candida Diet. I went hardcore into the diet and followed it to a T, from November of 2019 to May of 2020. I still follow it a bit (since I still have some Systemic Candida), for instance I am not consuming many high starch vegetables (like potatoes) and only consume a 1/4 of a very ripe banana maybe once a week. I still follow (and always will) a gluten-free, dairy-free, added sugar-free lifestyle.

Honestly, I don’t miss much. My energy levels are so much better than they use to be, my skin has cleared up tremendously, my tastebuds are insane (even the slightest sweet food is crazy sweet!), and food just tastes better in general.

What Sugar Can I Consume?

The most common comment I hear when I tell people I am sugar-free is, “Wow! I could never do that!” And a part of me wants to say, “Your right! If you believe that you won’t be able to do it.”

You HAVE to change your mentality. Just knowing that sugar causes cancer, how it causes your body to react just like if you did a line of cocaine, that it is more addictive than drugs, that it causes inflammation in your body, and that is causes a SLEW of other health issues should be enough for you to drop it cold turkey. But again, you have to completely change your mindset. Instead of focusing on all the foods that you canNOT have because it contains sugar, focus on all the foods you CAN have! You can still eat fruit (now, I can’t in high doses because I have Systemic Candida, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t…and once my Systemic Candida is healed I will consume more!), replace your cane sugar with raw, natural honey, and it is safe to bake with organic, whole-leaf stevia. I still get to indulge in sweet treats, like mug cakes and chocolate fat bombs.

And when the holidays roll around, I will bake my own sugar-free desserts and bring those for others to eat as well.

My go-to thought that I share often is that we get this one body. God gave you a vessel to live in on their earth and you are to take care of it. Love it well by fueling it with healthy, organic, natural foods that He gave us.

YOU CAN DROP SUGAR!

It is possible!

If you want to watch something to get you fired up some more, I highly recommend the documentary Fed Up.

Another good one is The Sugar Film:

Ingredients

What are some ingredients/additives that you want to avoid? Let me start by saying that the ingredients label will now become your best friend. In my next post, ‘Are the Foods You’re Eating Slowly Killing You? – Part 3’, I will go into actual ingredient names that you want to avoid and why, as well as answer any questions that you have for me via Instagram and Facebook. Look for those polls to come in my stories this week!

Until next time! Have a blessed, sugar-free day! 😉


Sugar-Free Lemon Mug Cake!

If you know me, you know I LOVE lemon anything!! Lemon pies, lemon cupcakes, lemon bars, lemon anything!

However, some of my favorite lemon recipes are loaded with cane sugar and dairy…which I cannot have because of my health issues (you can read about my health journey with Systemic Candida here).

This microwavable lemon mug cake is sugar free, gluten-free, Keto-friendly, dairy-free, and Candida-safe. If you are further along in your Candida journey and can have fruit, you could top this cake with fresh organic raspberries and coconut cream! It is perfect!! If you are more of a chocolate fan, this recipe will hit the spot as well!

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

SUGAR-FREE LEMON MUG CAKE

This sugar-free lemon mug cake is the most easy recipe to dive into at the end of a long day and it is made with only six ingredients:

  • Tiger nut flour is an amazing gluten-free flour! I wrote up a lot of info about this amazing nut-free flour here.
  • Egg – I use only one pasture-raised egg in this recipe.
  • Baking powder – I use Danielle Walker’s homemade baking powder recipe, since a lot of store bought versions have gluten, aluminum, corn, and/or GMOs. It is super easy to make your own and you probably have all the ingredients on hand!
  • Lemon juice – I use the juice of one fresh, squeezed lemon
  • Organic Stevia – I use only a couple drops of organic, whole leaf stevia for added sweetness.
  • Alcohol-free Vanilla Extract – I use Sprouts-brand organic alcohol-free stevia extract, or you could use this one as well.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

COOKING MUG CAKES

Mug cakes are usually baked in the microwave for only 90 seconds at high power (800W). Or, if you are more patient and/or don’t have a microwave, you can make this mug cake in an oven-safe ramekin and bake for 12-15 minutes in a preheated 350ºF oven. Whichever way you decide to bake your mug cake, you will know it is cooked through when you insert a toothpick in the center of the cake and it comes out clean or with no crumbs on it.

So without further ado, here is my favorite lemon mug cake!

SUGAR-FREE LEMON MUG CAKE

Total Time: <5 minutes

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

Microwave:

  1. Mix all of your ingredients in a microwavable coffee mug or bowl (make sure it is a large mug as the cake will double in height).
  2. Microwave on high for 90 seconds.
  3. Remove from the microwave and let cool a few minutes. Top with fresh organic raspberries, lemon zest, and a dollop of organic coconut cream.

Oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF
  2. Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a small bowl and pour the batter into two small ramekins, or one medium ramekin.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until cook through. Check after 8 minutes as it make cook faster depending on your ramekin size. Use a toothpick to test doneness.
  4. Let cool for a few minutes and then top with fresh organic raspberries, lemon zest, and a dollop of organic coconut cream.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag #lifestylewithlauren on Instagram!


What is Candida?

My Healing Journey

I’ve stated in the past that I have been battling many health issues. One of which is Systemic Candida…that means it is in my blood. Everyone, EVERYONE, has Candida. However, it is contained in the gut and in a good balance. However, as soon as you add antibiotics, sugar, gluten, stress, anxiety, it can cause your Candida levels to get out of control. Throw in leaky gut (which is basically little holes in your gut), and now the Candida is free to move out of its home (your gut) and travel into your blood, and even into your brain and other organs.

Amy Meyers MD’s website states it well:

Candida has the unique ability to change shape in order to protect itself from harsh environments. It responds to a shift in temperature or acidity levels by transforming from a rounded yeast cell into an elongated hyphal cell. These elongated cells have the ability to permeate the gut lining, causing leaky gut. Once in the bloodstream, Candida can invade other tissues. This means that Candida can quickly transition from a gut problem to a full-body problem. It can colonize the skin, mouth, ears, thyroid, reproductive organs, or elsewhere. For this reason, symptoms of Candida overgrowth can be experienced in many different forms.

I was finally diagnosed with Candida in November 2019. This was after spending YEARS getting blood work and seeing doctor after doctor, trying to figure out what was wrong.

Candida symptoms vary for each person and you don’t always get them all. I didn’t get a lot of the tell-tell symptoms (like yeast infections). I was just tired. Not just mom-tired. I was exhausted when I woke up. Lived on caffeine. I would drink 5 cups of black coffee in the morning, drink a Starbucks in the afternoon, and crash as soon as my kids went to bed at 7pm. I would sleep all through the night and still wake up tired. That’s not normal.

In addition to extreme exhaustion, I was experiencing horrible breakouts. I also had digestive issues, which is very common with a bunch of other ailments and thus why I did a comprehensive food allergy testing…and guess what? It came back CLEAR! At that point, I was literally about to cry. I had all this other blood work telling me everything was mostly normal (other than some hormonal imbalances and thyroid not optimal…I’ll get to that in a minute). I was sure I had Celiac or Crohn’s…but nothing. No food allergies. I was desperate for answers and knew something was wrong.

After feeling defeated, I figured I could start with healing my thyroid, so I joined a holistic thyroid Facebook group to try to find a doctor and glen from others. My GP (General Practitioner) told me that my thyroid was not great but never mentioned getting on a medication or something else to help heal it. He focused more on my hormonal imbalances, thus why I joined the Facebook group. I called a few doctor offices and left messages but never booked anything…doctors were too far away, first appointment would be 5-6 months later, etc. I posted again in the Facebook group and asked specifically for a doctor that could help my thyroid and hormones that was close by. One lady commented about an OB/Gyn that specializes in hormonal and thyroid imbalances. I looked up her information online and decided to give it a go. I made my appointment for about a month later, which was a lot faster than seeing a thyroid doctor. In the meantime, I got more blood results back and shared it in my portal with this new OB. I added all my symptoms and she emailed me back asking for me to get one more test done (yup…she added the test for Candida).

The time came for my first appointment with my new OB and I felt welcomed and knew in my gut that I made the right decision by going this route first. As soon as she walked in, she introduced herself and then went right into it. “Know wonder you are exhausted! You have Systemic Candida!” She then showed me all of my blood work, and boy was I a mess!!

In addition to the Systemic Candida, I also had pretty much no testosterone, hypothyroidism, low estrogen, a ton of vitamin deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, MTFHR mutation, and Epstein Barr Virus (a few of these things I found out later with a different integrative doctor that did more extensive blood work and microscopy blood work).

Our first item to tackle was the Candida. She believed that that was the root cause to a lot of other issues I was experiencing. If we could get that in control, then hopefully the other issues would start to balance out.

My Symptoms

There are so many symptoms of Candida overgrowth. These are just a few of the many and these were the ones I was experiencing:

  • Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue
  • Digestive issues (bloating)
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, and/or brain fog
  • Skin breakouts
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression
  • Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings
  • Sinus infections (I was getting a TON of them!)
  • Weakened immune system (I was getting sick all the time)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sleep problems and night sweats

How Do You Test for Candida Overgrowth?

Blood tests check for IgG, IgA, and IgM Candida antibodies in your blood, and they can be performed at most any lab. High levels of these antibodies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is present somewhere in the body and that your immune system is reacting to it.

Remember, Candida has the ability to suppress the immune system so it is important to ask your doctor to test your total IgG, IgA and IgM levels along with the Candida antibodies.  Low levels of total IgG, IgA or IgM could cause a false negative response to the Candida antibodies, meaning you have Candida but since your immune system is lowered, you are unable to produce a response and your blood test comes back negative. I see so many patients with suppressed immune systems, so I find that blood tests can often be negative even when the stool or urine tests are positive.

From Amy Myers MD

Mine was found in blood work. I now see an integrative doctor that works on whole body healing and specializes in cancer treatments, healing Candida, and other health issues. Since seeing him, we’ve been tracking the Systemic Candida with microscopy blood work. It is the coolest thing ever! The nurse pricks my finger and places a small drop of blood on a slide, then places it under the microscope. We are able to look at the blood right then and there! The nurse is able to point out Candida, toxins, and allergens. My blood looked so much healthier at my last visit (at the end of March) – blood cells were larger, spaced out more, and moving much better than last time! It is seriously amazing to see! I still have some Candida floating around but not as much, toxins still present (we are doing a push-metals test next visit), but overall it is looking promising!

“How Did You Get Sick When You Eat Healthy Foods?”

I have been asked this numerous times. Or, “why do other people not get sick when they eat crap foods all day?”

Honestly, I don’t know the definitive answer to this because everyone is different. But I will share my thoughts.

I believe a lot has to do with your genetics and how you ate growing up. I ate a TON of McDonalds and Kids Cuisine in my formative growing-up years. My dinner almost every night (up until 5th grade) was a Kids Cuisine, sitting in front of my great-grandmothers tv, watching Wheel of Fortune. I ate McDonalds breakfast on the weekends, chicken nugget kids meal way to frequently, and the Filet-O-Fish.

In the grand scheme of things, I only recently started eating clean. I ate processed, sugar-loaded, chemical-laden food from childhood all the way into my late 20s. I am 36. So I have only had good, clean food for a few years.

I was also abusive to my body as a young adult. I took more diet pills than you can imagine, I suffered from bulimia in college, and would punish myself with over-exercising (I will go into these things in a later post). In recent years though, I was so tired and reliant on my caffeine to keep me going. I would drink a Starbucks Venti light-ice Pink Drink about 4-5x/week. I knew better!! Those things have over 35 grams of sugar (keep in mind that the suggested amount for women a day is 25 grams). I got MORE than that in 15 minutes! In addition to sugar, I was consuming GMO’s, chemicals, and other horrible ingredients. I was also consuming way too much sugar in other foods. My body had no chance!

Stress is also a HUGE factor. And I have had my fair share. I didn’t deal with it well and my body took the toll.

As stated before, I was getting sinus infections a lot. I was always catching something. It seemed like my kids would get a little cold and would get better in a day…I would catch the same thing and it took me 3-5 days to get better. So when I would get sinus infections, I was placed on antibiotics. Antibiotics destroy your gut flora and I was not replacing it with pro/prebiotics, so my gut was never going to fully repair.

How Do You Heal Candida?

First, you need to starve the Candida by removing the foods that feed it from your diet: all sugar (even from fruits), alcohol and limiting carbohydrates such as fruit, starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes. I followed The Candida Diet (which is a low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet that promotes gut health and eliminates the sugars that feed Candida) to a T. I started as soon as I walked out of that doctors office in November (though it did cross my mind to have just one more Starbucks). I went home, purchased their eBooks and guides. I stuck to it though Thanksgiving, Christmas, even a cruise that we took in January!

Photo by John Lambeth on Pexels.com

I also took prescription anti-fungals (Nystain and Diflucan), as well as a slew of vitamins, 100 Billion CFU probiotic, and another sporebiotic.

For the last couple of months I have not taken any anti-fungals or Candida Cleanse supplements. I am continuing my regular vitamins and supplements, including a really clean probiotic, as well as continuing to eat good, whole, organic foods. I am not sticking to The Candida Diet anymore and able to eat more organic fruits and vegetables. I still see my integrative doctor for follow-ups and I get an IV every visit. So far I have had an H2O2, Ozone, and Diflucan IV therapy treatments. I have one more test to complete in July, along with a follow-up and more blood work to see how my thyroid and hormones are doing. Then we’ll go from there!

How Are You Feeling Now?

Y’all.

I use to LIVE on caffeine and still pass out at 7pm. Now, I don’t drink any coffee or tea and I still have energy at the end of the day to workout after my kids to bed at 7pm. Almost every night after putting our boys to bed, I am sweating it out to a good Tone It Up workout, followed by a quick additional weight-lifting session from Body Beast, and then cap it with yoga or a walk with friends. All without caffiene.

In addition to more energy, my skin has improved SO MUCH! I posted my new skin care routine last week and that has definitely helped to repair, but I am certain that healing the Candida as well as repairing my gut has been the biggest help. Take a listen to this podcast for more about acne and the connection to your gut.

I will have a few other posts to follow up with this one that will go into more details of my diet, how I am continuing to heal, as well as healing my other health issues that we are working on.

Hopefully this helps to answer some of your questions regarding Candida and maybe even shed some light on something that you may have been questioning.

If you have battled Candida or wondering if you have it yourself, feel free to message me and I’d love to help you find answers! If you live in the Dallas Metroplex, I would love to share my integrative doctor with you! He is awesome!

Check back in on Friday for my weekly Friday Favorites! Till then, friends, stay healthy!

xoxo Lauren


My Favorite Chocolate Smoothie Recipe

Since battling Candida and other health issues (which I will address all of this Wednesday), I had to avoid most all fruit (until recently). Which meant I could not have my normal fruit-loaded smoothies. I also struggled to find a protein powder that tasted delicious and was safe for my Candida. That is until Truvani!

Truvani’s plant based protein powder tastes AMAZING! One of the main reasons I love the Truvani company is its commitment to real food and supplements without added chemicals, toxins, and they source only the best organic ingredients. In addition to being certified organic, it is also gluten-free, super clean with just six simple ingredients, and safe for my Candida.

Speaking of, since my Candida is getting better, my doctor and I decided that I could reintroduce a little bit of fruit! I could not be more happier! Now I am able to make smoothies that taste great and cure my sweet tooth!

Without further ado, here is my favorite chocolate smoothie recipe:

Chocolate Plant-Based Smoothie

  • 1 scoop Truvani Chocolate Plant-Based Protein
  • 1 TB organic almond butter
  • 1 TB organic coconut butter
  • 1 TB organic hemp seeds
  • 1 scoop Vital Proteins collagen
  • 8 oz liquid of choice (I like homemade hemp milk or coconut milk)
  • Handful frozen organic spinach
  • 1/2 really ripe frozen banana (optional)
  • 1/3 tsp ashwaganda
  • Ice

Blend and enjoy!

Let me know if you try this smoothie recipe!

Links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost is the same but I automatically receive a small commission. The money I make from these links, I use to further my blog and support my family. I only refer products that I personally use and trust.


Delicious Sugar-Free Fat Bombs

These fat bombs are DA’ BOMB! Haha! No, seriously, they are the perfect sweet treat but also pack a protein punch!

All you need is carob powder, coconut oil, almond butter, collagen peptides, and salt.

I love using carob powder for many reasons! First and foremost, it is allowed on the candida diet. Secondly, it is naturally sweet and has many health benefits, including that it is low in fat and sodium, contains calcium but no oxalates, it’s high in fiber, naturally gluten-free and caffeine-free, and is a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants. Another BIG plus for those who suffer from migraines, carob does not contain tyramine. Healthline.com states that Tyramime is a byproduct of tyrosine, an amino acid. Foods that contain tyramine may trigger migraine headaches, and chocolate contains tyramine. Carob, however, does not contain tyramine and is considered safe to eat if you get migraines. Also, fun fact…carob powder is Fido-friendly. It doesn’t contain high levels of theobromine, a compound that is toxic to dogs and cats in large quantities. Win win!

Sugar-Free Fat Bombs (Candida-friendly, Keto, No Bake)

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond butter (pure almond butter – no added sugar)
  • 1/4 cup carob powder
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 scoop Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
  • Stevia to taste, if needed (I find carob powder to be enough sweetness)
  • Walnuts, quartered

Instructions

Mix all ingredients (except walnuts) together until smooth. Pour into silicone ice cube trays (I like these ones) and top with 1/4 walnut. Freeze. Pop out and eat when you need to cure that sweet tooth!

Did you make this recipe?

Tag #lifestylewithlauren on Instagram!

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My Top 4 Favorite Cookbooks

I have been battling systemic candida since November 2019. My diet is very strict and doesn’t allow much wiggle room. I have been living a gluten-free lifestyle for many years, however, trying to kill off candida takes more than abstaining from gluten. Since November of 2019, I have also cut dairy, caffeine, sugar (even from fruits), alcohol, and a variety of veggies and grains.

Within the last week, I have been slowly adding in some of the food that was restricted in the beginning stages of the Candida Diet. But, even though it is slowly improving, it is still not gone. I have started transitioning to more of a SCD and leaky-gut diet in order to heal my gut and prevent candida from getting into my bloodstream.

We rarely eat out because of my diet. Thus, I rely greatly on recipes and cookbooks. Here are just four of my top favs that I go to often for dinner recipes that are mostly compliant with my food restrictions:

I LOVE ALL of Danielle Walker’s cookbooks! I have all of them now and reference them often. Her recipes are kid-approved, too! I know that when I pick a recipe from her book, the whole family will enjoy it. Plus, I am able to stick to a gluten-free, dairy-free, SCD diet with the majority of her recipes.

Minimalist Baker is another favorite of mine! I try to eat more plant-based these days, but with my diet, I can’t make many of Dana’s recipes at the moment because of the use of maple syrup, beans, and some grains. However, my kids LOVE her muffin and bread recipes and I love how her cookbook is mostly gluten-free.

I purchased the ebook version of Coconut Bowls Vegan Cookbook and LOVE it! So many beautiful bowls, smoothies, salads, and vegan options, most of which I can eat with my restricted diet. I love how fresh and colorful all the recipes are and they are so delicious!

If you want to purchase your own Coconut Bowls Vegan Cookbook ebook or hardcopy, click here and use code LGRECI at checkout.

In addition to these cookbooks, I have a lot of go-to websites where I pull recipes to try. I usually print the recipe, and if my family likes it, I keep it and place it in my recipe binder. If they don’t, in the recycle it goes! I also like printing the recipes because I often forget where I found the recipe and if I made any adjustments, which if I do, I can just pencil it in.

What are your favorite cookbooks and recipes sites? Share below…and don’t forget to hit that subscribe button!

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