I never looked so skeptically at a piece of bread. Over the last few months, I have been raging an all-out war against yeast. Most people think of yeast with less emotion than I do. They may even consider the term with a smidgeon of fondness as they smear their favorite spread on a soft roll. I used to be in this camp until I developed a yeast infection in my breast. Since then, I can't so much as look at a piece of bread without cringing.
I won't deny that I was and am a carb addict. At any given time, I will tote around a 'snack bowl' as all my dearest friends and family have termed it. Yes, this bowl, is as big as a salad bowl but it's filled with everything except salad. The items rotate but they include at least four or five different things. Staples: Popcorn, rice cakes, dried seaweed strips, almonds, crackers, and chocolate. For some reason, I never tire of these things. On a typical day, it's not surprising to catch me refilling this bowl over a dozen times. Yes, I know it's sick, but unless you're a carb addict, you have no idea what it's like to crave your favorite snack. I could literally eat two steaks and still want my snack bowl afterwards. With breastfeeding, it's impossible for me to give this snack bowl up. It's the one thing I can wake up and eat without preparing and it allows me to go back to sleep without feeling too gross. If anyone is breast feeding, has breast fed, then you know what I'm talking about. The hunger that consumes you is ridiculous and all consuming.
So despite the fact that I have this unbearable hunger, I have to limit my food groups because of the damn yeast infection. It's spread to my milk ducts and sends shooting pains throughout my breast. They suck. After researching endless hours on the internet and meeting with several breast feeding specialists (yes, they do exist), I can tell you that almost everything has some form of yeast. Here's a list of top ten forbidden foods:
1. Wheat--Yes, the thing that's supposed to be good for you is BAAAAADDD for yeast.
Anything with wheat including bread, crackers, etc.
2. Vinegar--Kill me now! I love balsamic vinegar and this has been the hardest to give up. Anything with vinegar is off limits; ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, soy sauce, and the list goes on.
3. Sugar--absolutely the hardest to give up. Before the yeast infection (hereafter referred to as YI), I would eat, on average, at least 2000 calories of sugar. Yes, I know it's sick, but I have a major sweet tooth. Sugar and sugar derivatives make me happy. Like heroin for some people, it takes the edge off for me. (I can't believe I just compared sugar to heroin, but I bet if you looked at the chemical processes inside the brain, it'd be similar). I can pinpoint my full blown yeast flareup to Halloween when I consumed entire bags of chocolates and twizzlers. I went through at least 4 candy bars and 10 packs of random candy a day. Sugar feeds yeast and so those little buggers were 'making a little love' and multiplying from my sugar binge. Even fruit is off limits....oh, what has my world come to?!
4. Mushrooms--I love mushrooms. I love them in soups, on pizzas, in stir fry, raw and they are now off limits. Mushrooms are a fungus so it makes sense that fungi feed yeast which is a fungal infection.
5. Peanuts--Believe it or not, they're made in factories with mold. Mold = FUNGUS = BAD!
6. Cheese/Dairy--I'm already lactose intolerant, but now I can't even eat yogurt which was the one dairy item that I could tolerate. (Thank you Asian genes for not allowing me to indulge in pints of Ben and Jerry's).
7. Flour--No flour of any kind. This also feeds yeast. No noodles, rice, pitas, basically anything baked.
8. Wine--Made with yeast....My fiance is a sommelier. Can you imagine the temptations in my kitchen!!!
9. Soy--Apparently, soy is a heating agent (as described by a natural medicine doctor) and can aggravate YI.
10. Kimchi, Pickles, and anything Fermented--My grandma would have a heart attack if she knew I couldn't eat kimchi. For those you don't know, kimchi is fermented spicy cabbage that absolutely wreaks but tastes divine. Anyways, it's not as though I'm eating it everyday, but still, there are moments when a bite of kimchi with ramen would just hit the spot.
The list above is only some of the restricted foods. (Can you believe there are more??) These are the ones that are hard for me to follow. I have the least amount of restraint when it comes to food, but the one visual image that has helped me is imagining the yeast doing a happy dance inside my breast everytime I eat something yeast friendly.
There are moments when I break down, when the scrumptious piece of Alex's toast beckons me beyond hope, when the possibility of cereal with cold milk is too hard to resist, but those moments are few and far between. As I look at my little Adele, it's hard for me to take a bit of my Godiva when I know that a raging YI in me makes it harder for her to eat and be happy.
She is my new deterrent. If I can't do it for myself, I try to do it for her. It's hard being a parent. There are sacrifices that we make before they are born (no booz, bad sex, swollen poofy body) but it's the sacrifices after they're born that make me rethink singledom. Those days of following my own desires, not giving a rat's ass about anyone but myself, seem far away. I don't always succeed at this altruistic new 24 hr gig called motherhood, but I know I give my best 'go' everyday. I try to remember this as I have guilty tears streaming down my face as I finish off a very sweet, sinful toasted english muffin with raspberry jam. yum.