I’m often asked by new moms whether they can start a Candida Diet while nursing. Although you shouldn’t follow the full Candida diet while your infant is breastfeeding, you can modify the diet to a gentler version that is perfectly safe for both you and your baby. This is very similar to the version I propose for pregnant moms, which you can find here.
Many new mothers suffer from yeast infections in the first few months of their new baby’s life, and they are even harder to get rid of than usual. These can occur for a number of reasons and may often be related to the massive hormonal changes that are taking place in your body. However if you are experiencing cracked nipples due to breastfeeding, or had your little one delivered by cesarean section (with a dose of antibiotics), you may be particularly at risk.
Treating both you and your baby
If you suspect that your baby has a yeast infection too, that complicates your treatment. The yeast infection can actually be traded back and forth between you and your baby every time you breastfeed, so a full treatment has to include your baby. This will likely involve a course of prescription antifungals for both of you. However even if you are taking antifungals you should still adhere to a healthy, low-sugar Candida Diet, just to prevent the infection from coming back.
Most of the time there are clear symptoms to watch out for, and you can easily tell if your baby has a yeast infection. These symptoms include white spots inside the mouth or on the lips, problems with gas, or recurrent diaper rashes that won’t clear up. If you suspect that your baby has a yeast infection, take him or her to your doctor and ask. If the symptoms have manifested physically, your doctor will be able to give you a diagnosis very quickly.
A Candida Diet for nursing moms
There are three simple changes that breastfeeding moms need to make to the standard Candida Diet on this website. Any major changes in your diet should of course be done in consultation with your doctor.
Modify the diet
Following a diet with no fruit and very few carbohydrates may not be suitable for nursing moms. Although the standard Candida Diet can be a very effective plan for most of us who suffer from Candida, breastfeeding mothers will have to make some changes and follow a less strict diet plan. Speak to your doctor and agree on a healthy diet that will provide all the nutrients that you and your little one need, without elevating your blood sugar levels. Here are four guidelines to follow while you are nursing.
- Eat small amounts of fruit
Low-GI fruits like pears, berries and green apples are best. Remember to eat the fruit itself, rather than just buying the juice, as this way you will process the sugars more slowly and get the full benefit of the fiber in the fruit.
- Eat high quality carbohydrates
Your body needs energy to produce milk, so cutting out carbs entirely is not an option. If you stick to vegetables like beans, sweet potatoes, parsnips and winter squash, you can get some healthy complex carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar. Brown rice and whole grains are other good sources.
- Avoid added sugars
Try not to buy anything that contains high fructose corn syrup, glucose, sucrose or anything else that sounds like an added sugar. This is a great opportunity to eliminate some high sugar processed foods from your diet. Sodas, processed meats, sauces, ketchup, flavored yogurt – the list is endless. Look at the list of ingredients when you pick up anything in the supermarket – you’ll be surprised how many of your regular food choices contain added sugar.
- Lean, healthy proteins
There are plenty of good, lean protein choices for you. Fresh cuts of beef, chicken and lamb are great sources of protein, as are organic eggs. Try not to eat any processed meats like salami or sandwich meat though – these are loaded with nitrates, sulfates and often added sugars too.
Be very careful with supplements
As you have probably read by now, you need to be very careful what supplements you take while breastfeeding as anything you consume can be passed on to your little one. You should consult with your doctor to design a plan to beat your Candida. He may prescribe you an antifungal like Nystatin, and perhaps Nystatin drops for your baby. If you are both suffering from yeast infections, this joint treatment is important to prevent you from passing the infection back and forth between yourselves. You can also discuss using coconut oil or another natural antifungal as a supplement to the treatment that he prescribes.
Probiotics should be safer to take while nursing, but again we would recommend discussing them with your doctor. Sticking to natural probiotics like kefir or probiotic yogurt may be a safer and gentler option that will help to replenish your ‘good bacteria’ without any adverse reaction.
Don’t do the cleanse
Just like during pregnancy, your body needs lots of nutrients while you are breastfeeding. We would not recommend any type of cleansing diet to nursing moms, so you should skip the cleansing stage of the Diet entirely.
There are other, more gentle, ways to cleanse your system without taking supplements or doing a cleanse. Massage (either by a professional or by your spouse/partner) can improve your blood flow and help to expel toxins faster. Saunas are a wonderful way to improve your blood flow and promote toxin elimination, while contrast showers can increase circulation in your blood and lymphatic systems and boost your immune system too.
For lots more information on the symptoms, causes and treatment of Candida, take a look at my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment plan.