What to Expect When You “Fall Off the Wagon”

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No one is perfect when it comes to staying on target with a nutritional plan; dietary lapses are expected.  Especially with a protracted program like a Candida diet.   It is the rare client who makes it through the first phase without at least a small number of infractions.

The reality is, cheating, or “dietary lapses” occur for most people when following a food elimination plan.    Chances are the foods you love most are the very foods that contributed to your deteriorating health, and as a result the very ones you have to give up as part of your journey toward good health.

It is a noble sacrifice, but a very difficult one none-the- less.

Dietary lapses are considered momentary slips, such as eating a bag of potato chips or having an alcoholic beverage.  A “relapse” is a total abandonment of the food program and objectives[i].  A lapse is something most people can recover from in a matter of days.   Completely “falling off the wagon” (a relapse) will set your immune system, gut bacteria and other internal systems back to square 1 faster than you say “candida overgrowth”.

Research has shown that if you handle a lapse effectively, there doesn’t need to be a “relapse”.

Kathleen Bauer in her book “Nutrition Counseling and Education Skill Development”[ii] compares it to taking a trip:

Let’s say you were on a driving trip from New Jersey to Florida to go to Disney World.

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If you got lost in Baltimore, you wouldn’t simply give up and go home, right?  Instead, you would get out a map or your GPS system, figure out where you made a wrong turn and get back on the correct route.

Why deny yourself a fantastic vacation just because you made one wrong turn?

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The same is true of dietary lapses or cheating. I want you to treat it as a stumbling block, not a reason to give up!

I also want you to be aware of how your body may respond to a lapse.  Everyone is a little different, but cheating on your diet after being on it for even a short while, will usually result in a return of symptoms or an increase in severity of symptoms. Your body is letting you know that you’re consuming something  it can’t handle right now. In most cases, it will take about 3 to 5 days to return to the state of health you were experiencing right before your lapse.

As you continue to progress with your dietary program, and your health status slowly improves, your body’s reactions to an occasional dietary lapse will become less and less severe. This should not be viewed as an invitation to openly and regularly cheat while on your program. It is, however, a very good sign that the immune system and gut are healing and, hopefully, your original symptoms are diminishing.  In other words, it is a sign that you’re on the right track!

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[i] Bauer, K., Liou D., Sokolik C. (2012 revised). Nutrition Counseling and Education Skill Development.  Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

[ii] Bauer, K., Liou D., Sokolik C. (2012 revised). Nutrition Counseling and Education Skill Development.  Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

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