Causes of Cellulite: Have You Identified YOUR Krypotonite Yet?

15 Apr

Between my beef stock experiment and the guide to fluoroderma I am currently writing, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the extent to which fluoride could be the cause of my cellulite.

Back when we ran our series, Cellulite Stories, Declassified, one of the questions participants answered was “what is your kryptonite?”  In other words, what do you think could have caused your cellulite in the first place.

While researching for my e-book on fluoroderma, I learned this question is more fitting (and ironic) than I previously realized.

A Shape-Shifting Foe

See that green rock pictured at the top of this post?  That’s not from a superman movie.  That’s fluorite, a halide mineral composed predominately of fluorine.  In addition to green, fluorite comes in pink, blue, red, orange, yellow, and several other shades.

Fluoride is rarely “just” fluoride.  It’s chemical structure makes it highly reactive.  According to Chemistry of the Elements, the range of fluorine-containing compounds is vast because fluorine is capable of forming compounds with all the elements except helium and neon.1

When we encounter fluoride, it is always combined with some other elements in various forms.  Even the fluoride in the water supply is incredibly diverse.  It could be naturally occurring fluoride from the earth, or it could be (and usually is) fluoride collected from smoke stacks of aluminum factories.

Fluorite brought us the word “fluorescence,” another irony considering fluorescent lights helped launch The Cellulite Investigation in the first place (you can read about my sad fitting room meltdown here).

Other Forms of Kryptonite

Even if fluoride is the main cause of my cellulite, it is likely that fluoride is not the cause of every woman’s cellulite.  Have you been able to identify your kryptonite yet?

Other possibilities we’ve come across in the investigation so far are sugar and trans fats (including heated vegetable oils).  If you read through our cellulite success stories, you will find women who lost their cellulite by eliminating these two culprits from their diets.  Another possible suspect is gluten, although I don’t know of anyone who lost her cellulite after going gluten-free.

It seems to me that identifying the cause of your cellulite is a critical step in cellulite recovery.  You could get lucky and eliminate it by coincidence without knowing it was your kryptonite.  But until then, it is important to continue to consider the cause so you can know how best to eliminate it.

On Monday, I will tell you about an exciting development in the search for my particular kryptonite antidote.  I’ve tested the theory twice now and the evidence is the same, but I want to test it one more time before I draw any conclusions.

A Cellulite Investigator Update

Thanks for stopping by The Cellulite Investigation.  Things are a little quite around here at the moment.  I’m taking an extended break as I get married and settle into married life and a new home.  Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!

Comments

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herama says:
4/15/2011

SUGAR! The cellulite on my legs has increased tremendously since I started law school. That correlates with ginormous amounts of sugar consumed in same time frame. Then again, I’ve also turned 40. But I have a serious sugar problem. AND discussing this stuff with a friend, sugar contributing makes some sense for at least the following reason. 1) HFC (high fructose corn syrup) and other simple sugar consumption causes inflammation. Repeated inflammation weakens cell structure. Weakened cell structure= breakdown of skin tissue = less elasticity = dermis fibers less able to stay tight and hold that fat layer down = dimpled skin. 2) Simple sugar consumption = increased fat storage = more fat pushing between the weakened skin fibers.
I know I need to quit. I try. But it’s like an alcoholic (also a sugar issue!), as soon as i have a little, i want MORE!

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Herama, this is great! Identifying the main cause of your particular breed of cellulite is a huge step! I was just emailing with another CI reader last night about the sugar connection after she sent me this article:

Yeast and Chronic Inflammation

The author points to inflammation and water retention as two ways that yeast overgrowth (caused by sugar) can lead to cellulite.

Also last night, I finished reading Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan. She writes a whole chapter about sugar’s effect on the body, including inflammation. She even recommends traditional fats and bone broth as a way to heal cellulite!

Have you read any of the books about breaking the sugar addiction? I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth but I’m curious how they recommend dealing with it. I’ve heard it is best to go cold turkey for two weeks and that will help reset your taste buds (or something to that effect). Cate mentions a study that shows the more sugar people consume, the less they are able to taste it. It’s literally an addiction (as you probably already know!).

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AJ says:
4/16/2011

I am in the same boat as Herama. Sugar makes it far worse.
To cut sugar out I went cold turkey and was very grumpy for about 1 week. I did allow myself whole fresh fruit as a substitute for the initial withdrawal period. The shift to whole food unprocessed diet with lots of good fat helped too. I do better without cane sugar of any kind including sucanat and rapadura. I occasionally enjoy honey, maple syrup and molasses instead without issue.

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AJ, did you find your taste for sugar changed at all after you went cold turkey? Now that I don’t eat many sweet foods, nearly all “regular” desserts taste flat and sickeningly sweet to me. I still love a good creme brulee, but your average cakes and donuts don’t even tempt me anymore.

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AJ says:
4/17/2011

Yes, my sweet tooth was drastically changed after cutting out sugar and the fruit was admittedly a temporary crutch. I agree that since my shift to whole foods all standard foods taste chemical, incomplete, lacking and the sugar is always much too much.

I also notice that whenever I fell off the wagon and had sugar the cravings would quickly rocket back to the original intensity. By increasing the nutrient density of my diet my impulse to slip back into the sugar trap is continuing to wane. Increasing good fat is a big part of which I did not realize the importance until I put forth serious effort to increase it. I think I consume about 40% of my diet as fat namely full fat dairy, bacon, cod liver oil, avocado, grass-fed meats, seeds and coconut. For me that is a good balance and allowed me to lose the extra weight I gained in school.

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herama says:
4/18/2011

Have you noticed any reduction in cellulite since cutting out sugar?

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AJ says:
4/18/2011

Yes, removing cane sugar, unrefined and refined, from my diet helped markedly reduce my cellulite. Occasionally unrefined finds its way back into my diet and I see a little aggravation. This removal by no means left me cellulite-free but closer than I have been in 10 years.

I am beginning to look at the influence of grains on my health and wondering if it is pro or con. At this point I have decreased but not eliminated grains, so I cannot speak to any results.

Melissa- Sugar:The Bitter Truth is great. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

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Thanks, AJ! Taubes mentions that video in the NYT article and I wanted to look it up. I might even include it in a blog post this week.

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herama says:
4/17/2011

I went a week without sugar a few weeks ago, and then 5 days a week ago. But as soon as I get TOO stressed (always stressed, but when it’s overwhelming…) I WANT sugar!!
Yes, I notice my cravings decrease when I don’t eat it. However, during PMS it usually returns, though not as bad as when I’m eating it regularly. When not eating sugar in candy/cake/etc. form, I do eat alot of fresh fruit, some dried fruit and (sadly) some sugar-free candy. That last one I’m sure is NOT good for cellulite. I mean, it’s all chemicals. *sigh*
I actually went a year or two without eating sugar, many years ago. But that was part of an eating disorder, so can’t say it was healthy.
Back to the cravings- the cravings for me do dissipate when I don’t eat sugar for a while, however, I find if I’m feeling down, I think about sugar. It’s not just a physical addiction, it’s also mental and emotional. I.e. it’s a “treat” that i get to have when I feel bad, but it also lifts my mood temporarily (physical) which then leads me to want more. And it tastes good! Though not always.
Since starting law school, I’ve gotten REALLY bad about it. I’m always wanting to treat myself AND I’m always stressed. If it weren’t for all the exercise I do, I’d probably be 2x my size at this point and lots more cellulite.

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herama says:
4/17/2011

Forgot to mention- don’t even get me started on the yeast thing. THAT is a major issue for me. Not good. Even my doctor and gynecologist have told me to stop eating sugar in hopes that it will help.
File that in the TMI category!

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Ha! Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. ;)

When you tried to give up sugar, did you eat a lot of quality fats in its place (i.e. coconut oil, butter, cheese, red meat, lard, etc.)? That should help with the stress and cravings. I’m afraid fruit is not a healthy substitute for other forms of sugar. In Deep Nutrition (mentioned above), Dr. Shanahan says fruit should not be considered a health food. Dr. Thomas Cowan (another doc who “gets” nutrition) says the same thing in The Fourfold Path to Healing. If you don’t have a lifetime of sugar-overload to deal with, then fruits are okay. But for a lot of people they are contributing to the problem.

When I first started reading about nutrition, I noticed that a lot of my close friends and family have this problem. It is very common. Even my dog had it! My sister-in-law had it, too, and she passed it on to all three of her kids. When she realized what was going on, she limited their sugar more and started giving them a quality probiotic. Their skin rashes went away and they seem a lot healthier overall.

I’ve been wanting to read “The Yeast Connection” or some other book about breaking the sugar habit. My significant other is still struggling to limit his sugar, and I am hoping it will provide some useful insight. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

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herama says:
4/17/2011

I’m familiar with the yeast problem in dogs from being subscribed to a great raw dog group here in SF. My dog also had trouble digesting raw when first starting a few years ago, so at suggestion of others in the raw dog group, I bought her a bottle of enzymes to help transition. After the first bottle, she no longer needed them. Honestly I never noticed a yeast issue with her, but she definitely had difficulties with grains.
As for me, well, I’ve just not been willing to give up the sugar for any length of time. It’s truly akin to alcoholism. In fact, I believe the two are closely related, both being a matter of metabolizing sugar.
I’ve been trying to eat less/cut it out recently b/c of the increasing episodes of shakiness and cold sweats I get after eating it. :( A friend of mine told me the symptoms I was getting sounded just what happens to her diabetic nephew right before he needs an insulin shot. That’s scary.
Another reason I’ve been trying to reduce/quit sugar lately is because I AM curious as to whether it would have a positive impact on the cellulite. But when I’m sitting in that 3 hour evening con law class, it’s all I can do not to leave class before break and stock up on sugar at the corner store!
waaahhh!

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My poor puppy had the yeast problem long before we switched her to raw (that was the reason we switched). She had itchy ears, itchy paws, itchy butt… all the classic dog areas where moisture contributes to yeast infections. It recently started again and I KNEW someone had to be feeding her grains. Turns out our dog walker was giving her treats she brought from home (sweet lady!) instead of the ones we had in the pantry. Her ears and paws have healed again, but we are still waiting on the itchy butt to clear up. Poor puppies. The things they go through because of the modern dog food industry. :(

That story about your friend’s nephews is scary. Okay, so you need a good sugar substitute for your 3 hour law class…. any ideas? Olives stuffed with garlic? Potato chips cooked in lard, dipped in sour cream? Popcorn cooked in coconut oil with tons of butter? Something with heavy cream in it? I’m just thinking of a few of my sugarless favorites here…

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Oooh, I know. How about something with cinnamon to reduce sugar cravings?

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herama says:
4/17/2011

Wish fat would be a good substitute. But it’s not. When I eat savory, I desire a sweet follow up. My eating is generally NOT driven by hunger but by emotions. If I ate only when hungry, I’d be 80 lbs right now. Seriously, nothing to do with nutrition. I can (and do) eat 2 refillable buckets of popcorn at the movies with real butter (yes, they use real butter at the independent theaters here!), and STILL want sugar! It’s gross. I’ll feel ill but still want sweets. In fact, that’s where I’m at at this moment! Had a HUGE brunch protein and animal fat-filled brunch and feel completely stuffed, but can’t wait to have some sugar. Ooooohhh.
Cinnamon is kinda good, actually. But generally consumed as sugarless gum, and sugar substitutes are bad.
I need will power. ANd right now, I just don’t have it.

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I don’t believe in will power! I can see it not being about hunger, but the idea that you have to will yourself to stop eating sugar doesn’t fit in with my understanding of how the human body works. You’ve brought up a great subject here. It’s something we definitely need to put some investigative effort into.

On a related note, I’ve been incredibly strict about sugar over the last few months and it doesn’t seem to have made a difference. I even stopped eating fruit, yogurt, maple syrup, kefir, and honey. I decided that the sugar connection must not be my cellulite demon to deal with. Bought my favorite goat milk kefir today and some medjool dates to celebrate.

Oops, sorry! I probably shouldn’t say that to a sugar addict! I will get to researching sugar to see if we can make any breakthroughs. Let me know if you stumble across a good book on the subject. I know you are in law school and have no time to read for fun, so if you want, I will read it for you and give you the Cliff notes version.

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herama says:
4/17/2011

I’ve been meaning to read this http://www.dietcure.com/sugara.html and her other book the Mood Cure, but have not yet done so. Frankly, eating candy and other sugary foods is one of my joys, so for the time being, I’ll probably just try and reduce my sugar intake rather than cut it out entirely.

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I’ve been wanting to read The Mood Cure, too. I didn’t know she wrote a book called The Diet Cure, too. Thanks for the info. I’ll let you know if I find out anything good!

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herama says:
4/21/2011

Robert Lustig (The Bitter Truth) is a guest today on my favority local public radio show. The episode will probably be available for listening later today. I think I’m going to his clinic!:
http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201104211000.

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This is so exciting, herama! What does the clinic entail? Does he help people break their addiction to sugar?

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herama says:
4/22/2011

Oh. Ha ha! Sorry, I was kidding. Actually, he works at UCSF and I think has some relation to their Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, where I actually do have a holistic Doctor. But I doubt I could get in to Lustig’s clinic. Although, who knows? I suppose it’s possible. I’m on day 4 without sugar. I figure I’ll eat some on Easter, as Easter candy is my absolute favorite. But still, I keep going days without it, and it’s getting easier. After reading the NYT article I REALLY want to stop!

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I was wondering! I looked up his clinic and realized he is a pediatrician. Then I heard on the audio link you mentioned that he is sponsoring some event and invited people in the area, so I thought maybe you were referring to that.

Excellent work with the sugar! If it is getting even slightly easier by day 4, imagine what it might feel like after 2 weeks without sugar. I hear that is the minimum “cold turkey” period needed to break the cravings. It’s hard around Easter, but you are doing great. Keep it up!

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Bianca says:
4/27/2011

I’m liking this discussion on sugar addiction and its toxicity! Melissa – I’m glad you were able to use the NYT article I sent you! Isn’t that funny that some people came to the exact same conclusions as I did at the same time all because of your site?! It’s Fluoride! It’s Fructose! I love all the epiphanies that become. :)
When you all were looking for sugar substitutes, it made me think of jell-o, or, in light of the Royal Wedding coming up, a.k.a. what the Brits call, Jelly. This is what I eat when I’m craving sugar, which is usually around the time of the month, but I skip the grocer’s boxes of sugar-free Jell-o and make it with pure gelatin (bone marrow product and glucose free) – you can usually find it in a box in the baking aisle, and mix with Stevia. I also make my own whipped cream to top it off with with Raw cow’s heavy cream and Stevia. I guess this isn’t the most proper substitution you are looking for as both of these I sweeten with Stevia…but I have to say, I’m having a hard time pinning down online whether Stevia contains fructose or not, and therefore, making Stevia part of the “this-is-the-same-as” sugar list. One would think it may contain fructose, since it’s plant derived just like fruit and sugar cane and even the corn where HFCS comes from… But why do I lose weight when using it and why does it have no carbs/calories then, is my next question?
Anyone have any ideas?
Melissa – I imagine gelatin is also a by-product when you make your beef stock since gelatin comes from bones? I wonder if this is something you use for your fluoride extraction at all?
The other thing I try to do when I absolutely MUST have chocolate, is look for the highest cocao % I can find, which is usually found in dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is very good for you ;)

PS – when I went on the Atkins diet many years ago for the first time to lose weight during an internship in college and gradually went off of it a couple years later and resorted back, sugar was absolutely grotesque and too sweet and I was so “over” it. Bu-ut, gradually I grew a sweet tooth again. Then, as many years passed, I gained weight and now I’m attempting a low-carb/no sugar diet again, but with nutrient dense foods this time around. As I work to drop the weight (and the cellulite!), I’m finding it’s much harder to lose the weight as quickly as I did before and it took me longer to ween off of cake and cookies. Perplexing. It’s like I built an immunity to quitting sugar, if that makes sense. Perhaps it is harder with all the raw milk I’m drinking? It doesn’t have sugar, but it has carbs, and that equates to sugar… I know I was only successful with dropping the weight the first time around when I cut all sugar AND carbs for at least two weeks. After that, you can reintroduce things like milk and fruit again, but the first two weeks or so are so very crucial. What’s funny is, this is like the “cold turkey” method BUT with the “treat” at the end of the tunnel. I remember thinking, “ooh, after this two weeks of HELL, I get to have a bit more sugar and sweet things again,” but by the time I was passed the initial phase, I didn’t want sugar or sweet things! They were gross! Maybe you can think of it that way? Trick yourself into thinking there’s a “treat” at the end? The rewards are sweeter than you think ;)

I wish I knew about your site all those many years ago, Melissa! I honestly can’t remember what my cellulite was like when I lost all that weight on a no-carb diet! I just remember it was always pretty bad :( Getting better though! :)

Oh, I also make lots of yummy desserts with Ricotta cheese. Yumm

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Great ideas, Bianca! Yes, I have been adding gelatin to my stock. I use Bernard Jensen 100% pure bovine gelatin. It’s the one recommended by Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions. I intend to write a blog post about it soon.

The ricotta cheese desserts sound delicious! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but my partner and I were just talking about how we would handle the whole “sweets issue” when we have kids. When the situation demands sweets, I am planning to rely on fatty desserts such as homemade creme brulee, ice cream from raw milk, cannolis, etc. Hopefully we’ll be able to limit the sugar enough on a regular basis that the occasional sweets like that won’t do any harm.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about stevia. I know it is recommended by the Weston Price Foundation, but I don’t like the taste so I haven’t looked into it much. Does any one else have further info on this?

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Bianca says:
4/28/2011

Thanks Melissa! I’ve been eying Sally’s book for a while now. I’m curious, does it have a lot of color photography in it? I was wanting the Kindle version but as you may know only has a B/W display. If her book is in color and has many pictures, I will get the paper version.

That’s a great idea about sweets and children. What’s great about the ricotta cheese desserts is that they’re really not that sweet, but somehow, they satiate that need, AND they fill you up rather fast. Cannolis can be made with it. I make this strawberry cheesecake with a sour cream topping and with a crushed almond crust that’s to die for. They have other recipes here too: http://www.scribd.com/doc/331572/Ricotta-Cheese-Dessert-Recipes
It passed the “test” from my fiancé, who has never been a sweets kind of guy, who won’t go near cake or cookies, and it brings in the crowds at parties.

That’s funny you said you don’t like the taste of Stevia. My fiancé doesn’t either. I guess for me, I just got used to it and haven’t looked back. It takes some adjusting of amounts for sure. What’s weird, when we were in Paris two years ago, our friend who lives there asked us to bring Stevia – it’s apparently banned from France, or really hard to find for some reason. It was also banned from the US market for a long time, no doubt because Sweetener companies were in cahoots somehow with the FDA… If the food industry is all up in arms, you know it’s good! lol

Also, thanks for telling me Weston A Price recommends Stevia. I never thought to look it up there. Have you read about it on their site? They’re saying it’s good for acne! http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/570-sugar-free-blues#stevia

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The book doesn’t have any photography, so you won’t be missing much with the Kindle version. It’s a great reference for traditional foods. It contains large sections on stocks, fermented foods, raw meats, etc. The cheesecake you mentioned sounds delicious! I am filing that away for the next time I have to make a dessert.

That’s an interesting note about stevia’s ability to heal acne when applied topically. I wonder if that would work with the crystals, as well. I’m not upset that I don’t have acne any more to test it out!

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AJ says:
6/1/2011

I found another perpetuator of cellulite. Grains. I have been gluten-free for years and recently cut out grains. I was pleased to find another decrease in my cellulite after the first few weeks. What a pleasant surprise coupled with deeper sleep and the elimination of the last bit of abdominal tenderness.

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So cool, AJ! Thanks for updating us on your progress! I cut out grains for a couple months but did not notice any difference. I might try it again when I feel like my fluoride detox is complete.

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herama says:
6/1/2011

Arrgh! I think I’d find same as AJ if I’d give up for any length of time. Stopped grains and sugar for a week for yeast reasons, and I swear it was making a difference all around. BUT my mood was TERRIBLE. I must have carbs to avoid severe irritability and depression. Seriously. I did eat millet and some rice stuff. Supposedly those don’t count as they’re not true grains but rather seeds. I don’t know. I just couldn’t keep up with the no grains.
How do you live a happy life without them?! {=^(P

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When you gave up grains, what did you eat in their place?

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herama says:
6/2/2011

Yes, please do tell! I couldn’t do without such stuff for even a week!

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AJ says:
6/2/2011

The first month I did not consciously avoid grains but found myself repelled from them for the first time. I had some oats at that point and felt aggravated (more anxious and restless sleep) for a couple of days. So then I made a point to keep them out.
I get my carbs via vegetables, fruit and raw honey here and there. I don’t try to limit them in anyway.
I recently started using a very versatile “bread” for BBQ season… http://blog.yourlighterside.com/2009/05/gluten-free-low-carb-buns-aka-oopsie.html

herama- I was under the impression that millet and rice are both grains. In the past when I have had serious issues with a particular food the first two weeks of elimination were really difficult. It got easier after that. Sometimes it took me a few tries but eventually, sometimes years later, I figured out how to make it work. Many many baby steps.

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herama says:
6/2/2011

Just looked it up. I was incorrect. Don’t know where I read that. I guess I was confusing non-glutinous with non-grain. That and confusing quinoa with millet. Quinoa is not a grain but millet is, and they look alot alike (to me, anyway). And rice is a grain too. Duh. :P Oh well. It seems alot of candida-focused diets eliminate grains with gluten but allow for some consumption of those without gluten (i.e. rice, millet).
Either way, I gotta eat some!! One thing to give up refined sugar/honey/allthegoodstuff, something else to give up EVERYTHING I love! Can. Not. Do it. Or just don’t wanna.
Even if I could eat a million sweet potatoes a day, I don’t wanna live without buttered popcorn and crunchy, carby foods.

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Fighteress says:
8/8/2012

Tiny two cents..
Rice was among the other veeery few things I was allowed to have when I was fighting off a severe allergy reaction. All I was allowed to have: rice, carrots and white chicken meat without skin – all boiled without salt or anything else. (yuuuck!!) Drink – ONLY low mineral water (with some vitamins which I now do not remember… they were the kind that make a fizzy drink (surprisingly) and were not C or anything “regular” but rather K and smth else as bizarre.. with minerals. I guess to provide at least basic nutrition?)

Point is – apparently rice, even the “bad” white rice is body-friendly. As well as carrots. And lean white meat – I was only allowed the meat every other day in little quantity (but I’ll be honest – I had drums, I like them better :) . These are the only things that did not spike further allergy reaction..which I seemed to get from air alone. That was a really bad week. I lost a lot of weight, but the little cellulite I had back then – vanished. Oh, and I HAD to drink at least 2 liters of water, ideally 3 – which I did.

Please do not take this as a diet recommendation, just.. maybe a point to myself that possibly my kryptonite – or one of – is indeed gluten?

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