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ACD Update: A Return to Sweetness


[Recent ACD-friendly dinner:  Gena’s Raw Cream of Zucchini Soup].

It’s now been approximately five months since I began this round of the ACD, and, over this time, I’ve slowly been coming to the realization that, well, it’s not likely to end any time soon. 

As I may have mentioned before, the last time I pursued this regimen, it took two years to eradicate the yeastie beasties. Why so long, when for most people, six months is more than adequate? I’m just lucky, I guess.  (Either that, or those childhood PB and chocolate milk breakfasts, teenaged May West and coffee-with-Coffee Mate breakfasts, 20s-era birthday cake and oatmeal cookie breakfasts, and 30s-decade Weight Watchers mousse and Diet Pepsi breakfasts really weren’t that healthy, after all. Seriously, I couldn’t have done worse had I walked into a pesticide factory and started downing beakers of random chemicals).  When it comes to eating foods that nourish and strengthen my body, it seems I still hadn’t quite learned my lesson.

While I was able, eventually, to reintroduce gluten and sweeteners to my diet last time (and my naturopath assues me that will happen again, even this time), I fear that eventually, as with any addict reintroduced to a source of the addiction, I began to abuse the privilege. When I last went off the diet, rather than enjoy an abundance of fresh-fruit based desserts or an occasional (ie, less often than 5 times a day) sweet indulgence, I went the whole tofu and chowed down on a daily injection of chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate (in fact, I even considered changing the name of this blog to reflect that fact).  And while I still dearly love desserts, even healthy ones (heck, I just wrote a whole cookbook devoted to them!), like any addict, I really have no self control when it comes to my trigger foods.


[What I should have eaten more often: fresh and fruity sorbet. . . and even easy to make!]

I mean, have you ever heard of an alcoholic who can stop at just one drink? I think Denis Leary’s character, Tommy Gavin, a firefighter who can’t seem to avoid getting sauced, is a prime example of the principle:

Week One: “I’m handling it.  It’s just one drink.”

Week Two: “I’m handling it.  I’m only having one a night.”

Week Three: “I’m handling it. I only drink when I feel like it, but so what if that’s all day?  I can stop any time.”

Week Four: “Muh habble it. Dwnn tuh meh naw drkkeng drurving!” (Please do not adjust your set. Comprehensible dialogue will return once he sleeps off the inevitable hangover). 

And so, dear readers, I’ve finally decided to just accept my own shorcomings as well as my current situation (after all, self acceptance is the first part of healing, right?).  I’m determined to embrace the ACD, limitations and all. If I have to stay on it for a year, so be it.  If I have to stay on it for life, well–I won’t be happy, but I can live with it (and I wasn’t living too well without it, come to think of it).  It’s not as if I’m malnourished, or even that I dislike the foods I’m consuming; and I’d never share a recipe on the blog that I didn’t think was appealing to anyone’s taste buds, special diet or not. It’s just that I miss baking. I really, really miss baking. And I miss eating what I bake.

Still, given the choice, I’d rather continue to see my health improve (about 85% there at the moment) and continue to see my weight decrease, than eat chocolate every day.  Besides, I’m learning to think of the ACD as just another culinary challenge: it’s time to begin creating delicious gluten-free, maybe even grain-free, stevia-sweetened desserts for a while. Let the kitchen games resume!

As I mused about the situation, I was reminded of two experts whom I admire and respect, albeit from two completely divergent fields.

The first is Geneen Roth, acclaimed author of When Food is Love and a regular columnist in Good Housekeeping magazine.  When the HH and I relaxed up north this past weekend, I brought a slew of magazines to peruse by the pool, and came across Roth’s latest column, entitled, “Reality Bites.” She wrote about how she’d recently been diagnosed with allergies to both milk and chocolate–two of her very favorite foods.

At first, Roth rebelled against the diagnosis, thinking, “I refuse to give up the foods I love.”  Eventually, she came round to the reality of the situation, stating, “It’s hard enough to have. . . allergies. But when you can’t stop thinking about how much you hate the fact that you have to spend your time doing what you need to do, you double the difficulty.”  Well, I reasoned, I have quite enough difficulties in all the other areas of my life at the moment, thank you very much; I’d hate to convert eating into yet anohter hardship as well.

The second expert I thought about was Jon Kabat Zinn, who penned Wherever You Go, There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living.  To Zinn, a champion of, and pioneer in, stress reduction and mindfulness meditation, living in the moment and appreciating the here and now is paramount to a happy life. Again, I couldn’t help but think, “Look at all the other wonderful things in my life right now–a secure job in these crazy economic times; a (rather appealing) roof over my head; a loving HH; long-term, close friendships; and two of the most adorable canine kids I’ve ever encountered (okay, I may be a tad biased on the canine thing).


[“What do you mean, ‘a tad biased,’ Mum?  We’re crushed.”]

The point is, I decided it’s time to focus on the positives in my life rather than the deficiencies.  I may even resume the practise of keeping a gratitude journal (in which you enumerate at least 5 good things that occurred each day, every day.  Over time, believe it or not, your mood is elevated just by focusing on such things.).  It’s much more productive, and healthy, to maintain a focus on what’s good in life instead of the list of foods I have to give up for a while.

Roth said it beautifully when she wrote, “Giving up certain foods doesn’t mean giving up what you want to feel when you eat them.  Staying away from sweets doesn’t mean that you need to deprive yourself of sweetness or comfort or joy.”

And so, I will continue to forge ahead with the blog in this new direction and hope all of you who’ve been reading for a while will stick with me, even though my recipes will be geared toward more gluten-free and low sweetener recipes for a time. And to all the new readers who’ve found my blog by searching for anti-candida recipes or allergen free foods, welcome! The gluten and natural sweeteners will return eventually.

But for now, I hope you’ll all join me on this often challenging, necessarily innovative, and naturally sweetened healing path. 

Mum, don’t worry about not eating sweeteners–we do it all the time, and our food still tastes great!  Then again, we eat poo.” 



40 comments to ACD Update: A Return to Sweetness

  • Onward and Upward, Ricki!! Gotta love those girls!! The captions had me ROFL!! Thanks for the link to the Zucchini Soup. Definitely making that today. I haven’t been on Crazy Sexy Life in such a looooong time. I ought to head over and see what’s new.


  • The moderator at the Yahoo Group Foodlab once posted an observation using the DABDA acronym for the five stages of grief–as it applies to food intolerances. Monica writes:

    Denial: “I’m tired, that’s all. It’s not dairy.”
    Anger: “Why does every FREAKIN’ thing have to have dairy in it?!”
    Bargaining: “Maybe raw goat’s milk cheese will be fine.”
    Depression: “I miss cheese… what’s the point of eating without cheese?”
    Acceptance: “Dairy’s not particularly good for me anyway. And wow, I know a lot more ways to cook now!”


  • Love Gena’s soup, The Girls, and you!! Haha 😀 So glad that you’re doing well.


  • wow, well spoken 🙂 it’s hard to get past what you have to give up, but you’re so right about new culinary challenges, moving forward, and thinking about all the positive things you’ve got going for you!


  • LOL I love the tongue-licking picture. Wonder what “food” your pup is dreaming of in the photo…


  • Sue

    Hey Ricki, thanks for sharing all those thoughts. I especially love the quote from Geneen Roth about not giving up the feelings you associate with the food. That’s so great. I’ve copied it to save. I for one will read your gluten-free low-sugar recipes with great interest as that’s exactly what I need too right now 🙂


  • Your recipes continue to inspire and delight – as does your writing – I’m just relieved to hear you will still be blogging – although now I have your cookbook I have so many of your recipes to eat through – started tonight and loving it! I love seeing your creativity in the face of dietary restriction – and I hope you will be able to eat gluten and sweetners again in the not too distant future


  • Liz

    If there’s anyone who can embrace the foods they can eat and make them into delicious treats, it is you Ricki.

    You’ve got an entire blogosphere of support here with you 🙂

    (And the girls look so darn cute in their photos!)


  • Kim

    Ricki, thank you for sharing so much of yourself on this blog. I love the quote you shared from Roth about still allowing for sweetness in your life even without SWEETS. So poignant! I am in the Candida recovery stages and making very judicious use of sweeteners, and sometimes feel a little like I should back off a bit – it is so easy to go overboard, especially after being “deprived” for so long. I relate with your struggle, and admire you for taking the leap to do what you need to do. When I feel frustrated, I reaffirm my choices with the mantra that “Nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels”. Anyone that has dealt with elimination diets and knows the healing that can happen and the improvement in health can relate with that statement – but sometimes it is hard to remember, especially when faced with temptation, and the incredible desire to BAKE!!! You are blessed and so lucky because you have the strength, knowledge, self-awareness, and self-empowerment to make this choice for yourself – many people don’t know that there are other options other than feeling crumby. Baking gluten free and with stevia isn’t that bad, really, there are lots of options! And think of all the savory baked goods you can make – savory tarts, savory scones, savory crackers and breads, using nut meals and coconut flour and GF grains. Hey, if anyone can be elegant about ACD baking, it is you! Good luck, be strong, and know that you have support from all of us that read your blog and have been through it too. Kim // affairsofliving.blogspot.com


  • Great looking sorbet! Yum. And, your dogs are gorgeous.


  • Amazing! I am so glad you like/d the soup!!! xoxo


  • I think you may just have started creating your next cookbook! I’m looking forward to your gluten-free, stevia-sweetened treats. (I even have a stevia plant growing in the garden! Have you ever used fresh stevis?)


  • Hey Ricki,

    I can totally relate to this post. I had a similar epiphany of acceptance recently when I realized that I may have to more or less stay on an ACD for a very long time (or even forever) if I want to feel good. I find this fine and even enjoyable 90% of the time, but there’s always those moments when you’re out with friends or damnit you just want cake, when you feel like throwing a tantrum!

    Focusing on the positives always does help, and there are many! For example, we live in a country where abundant food of all variety is available around the corner, all the time. In addition, we’re both blessed with a love for cooking, which makes our situation a HECK of a lot easier…can you imagine being on such a diet and relying on packaged foods? Ouch. Gives me a headache!

    Anyway, SWEET blessings to you ACD friend!

    And cheers to sweet potatoes 😉


  • Courtney


    I really, really, really, really admire your amazing dedication and thoughtfulness surrounding your ACD! I don’t know HOW you are doing it…I think the last time I attempted it, I lasted about 2 weeks 🙁 It was the no fruit that got me…I can’t live without fresh fruit. I *DO* hope you will at least be able to enjoy fresh fruit again soon!

    All that being said, I am thrilled about your new direction for the blog! ACD or no, I think we can ALL use more healthy gluten-free low sweetener recipes in our diets!

    Huge hugs, Ricki!


  • A-K

    Like others have said before me, if anyone can work ACD-friendly baked goods and savory delights alike, it’s YOU, Ricki! I’m excited to see what you come up with!


  • daisybell

    This post was just what I needed now that I am back from my month-long trip to Asia and am trying to restart my eating plan. I’ll be with you thru this adjusted direction and am looking forward to your recipes!


  • As a wheat, chocolate and sugar addicted sick person with food allergies and intolerances I personally can’t wait to see what you’re going to come up with in the future!!

    And you’re definitely not biased when it comes to those gorgeous little doggie faces!!


  • Definitely sticking with you! I’m looking forward to trying the innovative and naturally-sweetened delights you’ll come up with!


  • I am glad you are happy with your decision! You are so creative and I can’t wait for your future posts. Your diet is inspiring 🙂


  • Ah, yes. The sweetness of life is better than any chocolate. Yes? Maybe? I think it can be.

    By the way, I had a question on my blog about water kefir. Do you know anything about it? I’ve read it’s good for dealing with candida and I’ve also read it’s bad bc of the sugar. Thoughts, oh ACD expert?


  • Ricki – your post made me all misty-eyed. i kinda know what you’re going through a bit. while i’m not fighting anti-candida, i have realized (as you already know) that gluten isn’t for me. my IBS disappeared when i went gluten-free, and whil be’n gluten-free isn’t as restrictive as your ACD diet can be, i’m working on coming to terms with the fact that sugar and i shouldn’t be friends either. i don’t have any control when it comes to my trigger foods (sugary goodies) either. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve bought gluten-free cookies (or candies, or anything else sweet & sugary) and said “just one a day” and then found myself with the cabinet open and an empty box of cookies (having eaten 15 or more in just a few minutes. eek!). it’s awful – sugar creates this frenzy that i can’t seem to control. i need to cut out the sugar, and i’m slowly working on it. yeah, right now i feel pretty bummed out that not only have i’ve gotta stick with gluten-free, but that i’ve gotta get rid of the sugar, too – but hey, it’s really something that i’ve gotta do. while i feel like i’m giving up my favorites, it’s not worth the energy anymore for me to get angry and upset about it. your post just helped me realize this. it is what it is and i just need to suck it up and say “okay, here’s what i’m working with – let’s have fun with what we’ve got now!” life isn’t all about food, and i don’t know when i became so darn obsessed with it. you’re so very right in looking around you and realizing that you’re one lucky lady – you’ve got a wonderful life, a rock’n spouse, and two adorable ‘n loving pooches. life is now, and why get upset about the past or the future? it’s not worth it, and there’s so much good go’n on right now. i guess if we’re upset or looking back, we might miss it. and i don’t want to keep missing it – that would be such a shame. my new motto lately has been this “if you can do something about it, then why get upset? if you can’t do anything about it, then why bother getting upset?” – i love it – and i try and remember it often, especially when i get down, angry, anxious, or upset. i’m glad you’re embracing the ACD, and i can’t wait to see all the lower sweet goodies & gluten-free awesomeness you create & write about! thank you, Ricki! thank you!

    hugs & happyfaces!


  • 5 months? holy Molly…
    your furry babies are absolutely beauteous, Ricki. you are a lucky fur-baby mama.


  • I always ask myself “is the 5 seconds that this naughty food is in my mouth, worth the hours in “?

    … and sometimes the answer is yes 🙂


  • love the comments on not having to give up sweetness…just sugar. and your babies are plenty sweet!


  • Hi Ricki,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really can hear the struggles that you are facing every day. I face similar ones, but at the moment I don’t feel I have the will power to face them. Although I haven’t been diagnosed as having a gluten (or wheat – I am not too sure which)intolerance, I know that it is the thing probably causing my IBS. Your perseverance is inspiring and I really need to sit down long and hard and weigh up the pros and cons of eating gluten – and while it can be nice at the time – it certainly isn’t later.

    Thanks for the beautiful posts and the wonderful pictures of your kids.


  • Lisa,
    Thanks so much! It’s really a good site, I think.

    Thanks for the fabulous reference. It’s so true, too!

    Thanks! I guess I am doing well, after all 🙂

    Thanks so much! It does make it a bit easier to face.

    Not sure, but probably not chocolate!

    Thanks so much. I really enjoyed her article (well, pretty much everything she writes!)

    Thanks; I really appreciate it. Hope you enjoy the book! I am hoping to get back to a broader diet in the next few months, too. 🙂

    Thank you–it means a lot. And I’m sure the Girls appreciate it, too (“Yes, Mum, we do!”).

    Thanks for the wonderful and positive perspective on this issue. I can really relate to what you’re going through as well. I love your blog and want to try out all your recipes! And thanks for all the great baking ideas. 🙂

    Aw, thanks!

    The soup was great! No wonder it was featured on Crazy Sexy Life!

    Hmmm. . . now you’ve got the wheels turning! (Let me sell a few of the first book before I head off in a new direction, though). Stevia plant? COOOOOOOOL! Never tried the fresh before. How do you use it?

    Thanks so much for all the positives you’ve listed! I feel the same way–most of the time it’s just fine, but eating in restaurants is a collosal pain. But I know it’s doable–for both of us!

    Thanks for the support–as always. 🙂 And don’t worry too much about the fruit–I’ve re-introduced berries and the (very) occasional apple for now. More to come!

    Thanks so much! I have been playing quite a bit in the kitchen, so will be posting new stuff soon. 🙂

    Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading! I appreciate the support and am glad the posts can be of use to you!

    Thanks so much! And the Girls thank you, too. 🙂

    Thanks! I appreciate it–and look forward to creating some yummy, naturally sweetened goodies. 🙂

    Thanks so much. But of course, necessity is always a great motivator. 😉

    I like your perspective on sweetness! I’ve heard the same about kefir. In fact, some practitioners advocate taking it daily for the probiotics, while others say the natural sugars in the dairy counteract the effects. I think it depends on how severe the candida is. For mild cases, kefir (and even organic yogurt) can be helpful. But taking probiotic supplements is just as good, without the risk of feeding the yeast.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and ideas in such an honest and heartfelt way! I have definitely been by those cookies myself, on far too many occasions! (Hence, my little ACD predicament at the moment!). Love your motto, and I’m going to write it up and save it to look at when I forget about all the REAL sources of sweetness in life! Big Hugs back to you. 🙂

    Feels like just a few weeks, doesn’t it? (Naw. But I can dream). The fur-babies thank you, too!

    Thank you so much!

    I agree. And once the symptoms have disappeared and I’m healthy again, I hope to be able to approach it that way–in moderation. 🙂

    Thanks! And since I live with them, I can tell you that they ARE very sweet girls!

    Thank you so much. It is very difficult, and I’ve certainly been there; I probably wouldn’t have started the ACD again w/o really needing to do so. But IBS can be relieved with changes in diet–mine was, even without giving up gluten completely. Happy to share if you’re interested (you can email me directly).


  • Your post is too funny and poignant. So good! And the quote before the last picture just kills.

    I laughed out loud at the potential title Chocolate, Chocolate, and Chocolate. Have you ever considered Chocolate Covered Ricki? That sounds good but oddly familiar… 😉
    Seriously though, is carob an option?

    The thankfulness journal is just beautiful. I think I will start keeping one.


  • Hello! I am new to the blogging world and just stumbled upon your site – I absolutely love it. I LOVE dogs and I love food, so really, I think your blog is perfect. You are very well-spoken, too. I look forward to reading more!


  • Hey Ricki! I finally got around to making something from Sweet Freedom this week. I made the carrot snack cake, which turned out delicious! I wrote about the recipe and your book on my blog, in case you want to check it out.

    Even though you said you miss baking, I am glad you are sticking with ACD and taking care of yourself. You’re right, there are far more important things in life to focus on than to worry about what we’re missing.


  • Dessert addicts, unite! I agree, it is a very slippery slope… I hope that eventually, you can find a happy balance between sweetness and health. And then, tell me how you accomplished that, because I’m still searching for the answer too!


  • Thank you so much for sharing so openly and honestly on your blog, it is inspiring and amazing. You are SO right to focus on the beauty in life and the rich bounty of the things you can’t enjoy. Life is too short to worry about all the things we are missing, isn’t it?

    I love the idea of a gratitude journal and I also love the picture of those two adorable pups!


  • Here’s to your success, darls.

    I’m struggling with dairy at the moment – I have a love/hate relationship with it. The hate is kinda winning at the moment, but then I see a wedge of fresh ricotta and…well, you know how that sort of thing feels, clearly.

    You may be biased, but I am not. Your girls are STUNNING. And they should be number one in your list of reasons to ne grateful. (Hi girls! XX)


  • What a beautiful color that soup has!! Looks so delicious.

    I love your cute dogs!


  • You DO have sweetness in your life, just look at those beautiful puppies! You certainly are motivated and I think you’ll do great!

    And yes, diet coke = chemical factory! lol…Although I wouldn’t recommend drinking pesticide…I agree with where you’re coming from ;o)


  • ricky thanks for this inspiring post. I have been reading along with great interest as I have also been travelling along my own adventures of discovering food intolerances. At the moment it looks like salicylates may be the culprit – and while this means that thankfully chocolate might still be ok, this means that a whole host of other favourite things are not (eg spices!). thanks for your inspiration and i’ll be sure to follow how things go!


  • I look forward to seeing what you create! While there are lots of foods I enjoy the taste of, I think I might get equal or more enjoyment out of knowing that I’m eating something good for my body. Yet that doesn’t stop me from still going back to those old comfort foods (chips, cake, etc) that I always thought made me feel good (emotionally). Thanks for reminding me about the gratitude journal! I did that for a while before but stopped. I should start again.


  • Ricki, you are truly an inspiration! I am so grateful for the gift of your wise and insightful words! I deeply admire your ACD journey, and feel so fortunate to, along with your other readers, be able to join you in your ACD culinary adventure! You are incredible!


  • You know, I’ve been thinking seriously about starting a gratitude journal – just to help me focus on everything that is RIGHT in my little world. I’m so sorry this is such a tough fight for you, but I am in awe of your fortitude and zen. Someone suggested the Zinn books to me recently, I need to see if they are available here.
    You can do it, Ricki! And we’re here with you!


  • Susan

    your dogs are absolutely gorgeous!!! and we have two cats at home. =)


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