I write this article while I sip on my bitter coffee; a continuation of slightly missing the mark when it comes to my latte cravings. There’s more than enough cashew milk to give it that creamy texture; so what’s the true culprit of my coffee disdain? The sugar-free sweetener I am forced to use since it is my only option to soothing my sweet tooth.

Why do I put myself through such turmoil? In short: health reasons.

A little over a year ago I started having symptoms of recurring yeast infections and extreme lethargy. After going to the doctor for the 10th time, only to have my yeast infection suspicions confirmed, I decided to take my health into my own hands.

I’m a naturally “healthy” person. My diet mainly consists of whole foods. I get a decent amount of exercise. I try to avoid eating too much processed foods because it makes me feel like shit. You know, your basic LA resident.

But defeating Candida is a much more serious feat that one can overcome with strict adherence to a certain diet.

Let’s do a bit of explaining first.

Candida is a type of yeast that everyone has in their bodies as part of their microbiome. Under certain conditions, Candida can use favorable environments to overgrow and start causing issues for the body. This is known as Candidasis.

That’s as much as I’ll bore you about the science because frankly — Candidasis sucks.

To give you a little peep into my struggles; about a year ago I went to Joshua Tree with a group of friends for my birthday. Needless to say, it should’ve been a blast. Bouldering to my inner child’s content, star gazing into the cosmos, pondering life with a close group of friends, and ending the night with a s’mores session out by the bonfire.

As we were going to town on these marshmallows, devising a game where we would brown the outer layer and carefully eat it off and then seeing how many times we could repeat that with one marshmallow, I started to feel sick. Not a normal I-ate-too-many-marshmallows sick though. I felt tired and uncomfortable in my lady regions.

I’ll spare you the details but what was supposed to be a remarkable birthday rendezvous turned into another incident of Candida taking over my morning the next day.

Sadly, that still wasn’t the point that I decided to take my health more seriously. It took until the summer and, to be honest, becoming single and wanting to date again, that I finally made my health a top priority.

If you know anything about yeast, there’s one thing that really gets it going: sugar.

My options looked bleak and my future seemed clear; if I wanted to rid myself of this Candida, I would need to rid my body of sugar.

You really don’t know how addicted you are to something until you try to cut it out cold turkey. I figured I would miss sugar. I foresaw it being a bit of a hassle. What I didn’t foresee was the constant inner monologue going on to convince myself that I didn’t need sugar, even though my body ached for it.

I was like a crack addict, plain and simple. I craved something, anything sweet (oh, did I mention that I couldn’t have ANY sugar? Even fruit).

I was no newbie when it came to natural sweeteners like Stevia. Splenda was always out of the question — like I said, natural foods are important to me. But sweeteners like stevia and the ever-growing in popularity, monk fruit, were most definitely on the table and often, in my mouth.

I’m an advocate for these sweeteners helping people cut down on their sugar intake. I mean, our society’s overconsumption of sugar is pretty concerning.

Are these sweeteners a perfect substitute? Often not. Do I use them anyways? Hell yes I do.

If you’re wondering how my Candida issue is going, it’s much better than before. I’ve managed to be more aware of how much sugar I consume, which is another plus.

My closing thoughts are as follows: too much sugar sucks for our health but I wouldn’t wish a sugar cleanse on my worst enemy. I honestly think people on Keto are masochists.