What can you not eat on a candida diet?

A candida diet involves eliminating certain foods that may exacerbate candida overgrowth. Candida is a fungus that naturally occurs in the body, but an overgrowth can lead to health issues. The candida diet aims to restore balance by restricting foods that potentially feed candida. Here is an overview of what you cannot eat on a candida diet.

Sugar and Refined Carbs

Sugar is probably the most well-known no-no on a candida diet. This includes table sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, and other sweeteners. Candida feeds on sugar, so eliminating it is key.

Refined carbohydrates like white flour, white rice, and anything made with refined grains are also prohibited. Refined carbs break down into sugar and can spur candida overgrowth. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and buckwheat are lower in sugar and allowed in moderation.


Most fruits contain natural sugars that candida can thrive on, so they should be avoided, especially at the beginning of the diet. Some lower sugar fruits like berries and green apples can be reintroduced later in moderation. Citrus fruits, dried fruit, and fruit juice should be avoided completely.

Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables provide sugars that encourage candida overgrowth. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beetroots, peas, parsnips and squash should be eliminated. Non-starchy veggies like leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus, onions, garlic, carrots, and cucumbers can be enjoyed freely.


Dairy products contain lactose sugar, so they are restricted on a candida diet. This includes milk, cheese, cream, yogurt, and butter. Non-dairy alternatives like coconut milk, almond milk, and nut cheeses are good substitutes.


Alcohol supplies a direct form of sugar that candida thrives on. All alcoholic beverages including beer, wine, and spirits should be avoided.


Even though vinegar has antifungal properties, the acetic acid in vinegar can feed candida. Apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, and other vinegars should be avoided.


Like candida, mushrooms are a type of fungus. Eating mushrooms may exacerbate candida overgrowth, so it’s best to avoid them.

Dried Fruit and Fruit Juices

Dried fruits are high in sugar and concentrated fruit juices also contain high amounts of sugar, so these should be avoided on the candida diet.

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, and mannitol are sometimes considered alternative sweeteners on a candida diet since they don’t spike blood sugar. However, candida can feed on these as well, so they should be avoided.

Refined Oils

Refined vegetable oils like canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, and corn oil can promote inflammation in the body and may worsen candida. Coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil are better options on the candida diet.


Many condiments and sauces contain added sugars that should be limited on the candida diet. Ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce, and salad dressings often contain refined oils and added sweeteners.

Processed Snack Foods

Crackers, chips, pretzels, cookies, pastries, doughnuts, and candies are highly processed, contain added sugars, and use refined flours, so they are not part of a candida diet.

Gluten Grains

Some people limit gluten grains like wheat, barley, and rye on a candida diet since candida overgrowth can cause leaky gut, and gluten may exacerbate this issue. Gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, and oats are better alternatives.

Foods to Avoid on Candida Diet

Food Group Foods to Avoid
Sugar and Sweeteners Table sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols
Refined Grains White flour, white rice, white pasta, anything made with refined wheat
Fruit All fruit except green apples, berries, grapefruit, limes (in moderation)
Starchy Vegetables Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, winter squash, corn, peas
Dairy Products Milk, cheese, cream, butter, yogurt
Vinegar Apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar
Alcohol Beer, wine, spirits
Mushrooms All mushrooms
Dried Fruit Raisins, dates, prunes, apricots
Fruit Juice Orange juice, apple juice, grape juice
Oils Canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn
Condiments Ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, barbecue sauce
Processed Foods Crackers, chips, pretzels, cookies, cakes, candies
Gluten Grains Wheat, barley, rye

Foods to Enjoy

While many foods need to be limited, there are still plenty of delicious foods that can be enjoyed on a candida diet:

  • Non-starchy vegetables – broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, asparagus, cucumbers, etc.
  • Lean protein – chicken, turkey, eggs, wild fish
  • Healthy fats – olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds
  • Gluten-free grains – quinoa, brown rice, gluten-free oats
  • Legumes – lentils, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas
  • Non-dairy milk – almond, coconut, cashew
  • Herbs and seasonings – Garlic, ginger, basil, thyme, oregano
  • Green tea and herbal tea
  • Lemons, limes
  • Berries

Tips for Following the Diet

Here are some tips to help follow a candida diet successfully:

  • Read food labels carefully and avoid anything with added sugars
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the whole foods are
  • Meal prep healthy foods and snacks like veggies, hardboiled eggs, and nuts
  • Drink plenty of filtered water and herbal tea
  • Reduce stress levels with yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques
  • Take anti-fungal supplements if recommended by your healthcare provider
  • Introduce restricted foods slowly back into your diet after several weeks to see if symptoms return
  • Consider doing a candida cleanse or detox program
  • Get enough sleep and exercise regularly

Foods to Reintroduce Cautiously

After following the candida diet strictly for several weeks and symptoms have subsided, you may want to slowly reintroduce certain foods to see if you can tolerate them. Here are some foods that can be added back into the diet with caution:

  • Gluten-containing grains – try sprouted bread or sourdough bread in moderation
  • Starchy vegetables – small portions of sweet potato, winter squash, peas
  • Low sugar fruits – 1/2 cup berries or green apple per day
  • Legumes – larger servings of lentils, beans, chickpeas
  • Fermented dairy – yogurt, kefir, aged cheese
  • Nuts and seeds – in moderation, as they are higher in carbs
  • Natural sweeteners – small amounts of maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia

Keep a food journal when reintroducing foods and note any symptoms that could indicate a return of candida overgrowth. This can help determine your ideal personalized diet for managing candida long-term.

Supplements to Support the Diet

Certain supplements may help combat candida, support the immune system, and replenish healthy gut bacteria while following the diet:

  • Probiotics – contain friendly bacteria that can keep candida levels in check. Look for broad spectrum products with at least 10 billion CFUs.
  • Caprylic acid – a fatty acid found in coconut oil that has antifungal properties.
  • Oregano oil – a powerful plant-based oil with antimicrobial effects.
  • Berberine – an alkaloid found in plants like goldenseal that inhibits candida growth.
  • Digestive enzymes – help properly digest foods and prevent candida from accessing undigested sugars.
  • Garlic – contains the compound allicin which has antifungal benefits.

Work with a knowledgeable practitioner to determine which supplements are right for your individual needs.

Potential Short-Term Symptoms

The candida diet involves significantly changing your diet and eliminating many foods, so there can be some initial side effects. Possible symptoms when starting the candida diet include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sugar cravings
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Skin rashes
  • Brain fog

These symptoms are sometimes referred to as “die-off” or the Herxheimer reaction, and indicate that the candida is dying off and toxins are being released. Stay well-hydrated and get enough rest to help your body through this adjustment period which typically lasts a few days to a few weeks.

Duration of the Diet

It typically takes at least 2-3 weeks of strict adherence to the candida diet to start experiencing relief of symptoms. Many practitioners recommend following the diet for 6-12 weeks, and then gradually reintroducing certain foods back into the diet to determine your tolerance.

People with autoimmune diseases may need to follow the diet for 3-6 months or longer to see true results. The key is to stick with the dietary changes; a short term diet rarely eradicates stubborn candida overgrowth.

Seeking Medical Guidance

People on medications or with underlying health conditions should consult their healthcare provider before making major dietary changes like following a candida diet. Blood sugar and electrolyte imbalances can occur when significantly changing your diet, so medical supervision is recommended.

Testing for candida overgrowth can also help determine if the diet is needed. This may involve a comprehensive stool test, organic acids urine test, or colonoscopy to check for evidence of candida.

Is the Candida Diet Effective?

Research on the effectiveness of the candida diet is limited, but there is some evidence to suggest it can help:

  • A 2014 study found the candida diet decreased candida levels, improved gut health, and reduced symptoms like fatigue, eczema, and digestive issues in people with candida overgrowth.
  • A 2008 study showed the diet improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis compared to a standard diet.
  • In a 2005 study, men with AIDS who followed a candida reducing diet experienced less thrush infections.

More research is still needed. But many integrative and functional medicine practitioners successfully use the diet to treat yeast overgrowth and leaky gut syndrome.

Precautions and Considerations

Some things to be mindful of when following a candida diet:

  • People with diabetes or hypoglycemia should only undertake the diet with medical supervision as blood sugar levels may drop significantly.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should discuss any dietary changes with their doctor and not severely restrict carbs, calories or protein.
  • If you take antibiotics or corticosteroids, talk to your healthcare provider before starting the diet as it may impact medication efficacy.
  • Those with a history of disordered eating should avoid being overly restrictive.
  • Work with a dietitian or nutritionist to ensure you get all the micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.
  • Rotate high carb and high protein foods instead of going extremely low carb long-term.
  • Include plenty of prebiotic fiber-rich foods to feed healthy gut bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat bread on the candida diet?

Bread made with refined wheat flour should be avoided as it contains sugar and gluten that can exacerbate candida issues. Sprouted breads or sourdough bread in small amounts can be cautiously reintroduced later in the diet.

Can you eat fruit on the candida diet?

Most fruits should be avoided, especially at the beginning of the diet. Berries contain the lowest amounts of sugar, so 1/2 cup can be consumed a couple times per week once symptoms improve. Lemon and lime juice is permitted.

What are the best foods to eat to kill candida?

Coconut oil, garlic, olive oil, ginger, and lemon all have anti-fungal compounds. Also focus on non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, gluten-free grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

What spices are good for killing candida?

Oregano, thyme, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and clove are excellent anti-fungal spices that can be used liberally on the candida diet.

How long does it take to get rid of candida overgrowth?

It typically takes a few weeks of strict adherence to the candida diet to start seeing improvement in symptoms. Many practitioners recommend following the diet for 6-12 weeks to allow for a full reduction in candida levels.

The Bottom Line

The candida diet involves eliminating sugar, grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, dairy, alcohol, and processed foods. Non-starchy vegetables, protein, eggs, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices are encouraged. Following the diet strictly under the care of a medical provider allows for a reduction in candida overgrowth and a balancing of the microbiome.

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