Clean Eating for Candida: The Comprehensive Food Processing Guide For Those Dealing with Candida

For those experiencing candida overgrowth symptoms, the term “clean eating” holds an entirely new level of significance. Candida is a type of yeast that naturally exists in the body. However, when it gets out of balance, it can cause an array of health issues.

To help reduce the symptoms of candida overgrowth, you’ve probably heard about the candida diet. This plan emphasizes the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods while steering clear of sugar, certain glutens, highly processed foods, and fungi.

Nonetheless, clean eating isn’t just about what you eat (although it plays a big part). It is also about how you handle, prepare, and cook your food.

In this article, we will explore the crucial components of food processing that can impact one’s well-being while dealing with candida.

From hand-picking fresh produce to storing leftovers safely, every step in the food chain could contribute to either increasing symptoms or alleviating them.

Understanding Food Safety

When you are trying to manage candida, the last thing you want to do is eat something that will fuel its growth or throw your body’s pH out of balance. Ensuring that your food is safe should be an on-negotiable part of your eating habits.

Food safety is an important part of dealing with candida. Bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens can cause infections that not only exacerbate the symptoms of candida but can also be life-threatening for those with a weakened immune system.

Now, not only unwanted bacteria may cause trouble with candida symptoms. Foods that are generally considered safe, like aged cheese, should also be a concern. Mold is a type of fungus that can produce toxins called mycotoxins, which can increase the number of candida symptoms. For that reason, make sure you are avoiding moldy foods like moldy bread, aged cheeses, and certain fermented foods like soy sauce.

In addition, it’s important to have good hygiene practices when cooking to avoid natural contaminants like listeria, salmonella, and E coli since they can pose significant threats.

Selecting Candida-Friendly Foods: The First Step in Safe Eating

Your food’s safety starts the moment you select it. If you make careful choices at the market, you can reduce the risk before food even enters your home.

Choosing Fresh Produce

For those following a candida diet, fresh fruits and vegetables are crucial for their high nutrient content and digestive benefits. But how can you make sure that you are selecting the right foods? Here are some tips to help you make smart choices.

  • Choose organic. When possible, choose organic produce, as it can help reduce exposure to pesticides that disrupt the gut microbiome. Gut health plays a crucial role in reducing symptoms of candida overgrowth. The gut microbiome modulates over 70% of immune function. When the gut flora is disrupted, it can weaken immune function and make it easier for candida to overgrow.
  • Inspect the appearance. Look for fruits and vegetables that are firm, plump, and free from bruises, cuts, or blemishes. Avoid produce that has signs of mold, rot, or decay since they can contain harmful bacteria.
  • Check the smell. Fresh fruits and vegetables should have a pleasant smell. Avoid those produce that contains an unpleasant or sour smell since it can indicate spoilage.
  • Consider seasonality. Choose produce that is in season since they tend to be tender and fresher, tastier, and more nutrient-dense than out-of-season varieties.
  • Choosing leafy greens. When choosing leafy greens (kale, lettuce, and spinach) avoid wilted or yellowing greens since they may be past their prime and lacking flavor and nutrients.
  • Assessing ripeness. For fruits that continue ripening after harvest (like avocados), choose ones that are firm but yield slightly to pressure. Avoid overly soft or mushy fruits since they can be prone to spoilage.
  • Check storage conditions. Pay attention to how fruits and vegetables are stored. To maintain freshness, they should be properly refrigerated or displayed in cool, well-ventilated areas. Avoid purchasing produce left under heat sources or exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Consider frozen and fresh options. Most people are afraid of frozen fruits and vegetables. However, in some cases, they may actually be fresher and more nutrient-dense than fresh ingredients (especially if they are not in season).

Identifying Quality Proteins and Fats

Proteins and fats are staples of a balanced diet, but the source and type of these foods are particularly important for candida patients. Here are some tips on how to add and select the best protein and fat options.


  • Choose lean cuts. Choose lean cuts of meat like skinless chicken, lean beef, pork tenderloin, and lean cuts of lamb. These are lower in fat and have a higher protein content, making them a healthier option.
  • Add some fish. Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel are great sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Include plant-based sources. Include plant-based protein sources like beans, tempeh, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, and sprouts, which can provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.


  • Choose unsaturated fats. Focus on including unsaturated fats in your diet. Opt for foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
  • Use healthy oils. Avoid highly processed oils like canola or soy. Instead, choose options like coconut oil, ghee, sesame seed oil, and extra virgin olive oil.

If you are still struggling to choose the best grocery store items for your candida diet, check out our free candida-friendly food checklist.

Washing and Preparing Foods

Good food handling techniques are crucial to providing a strong defense against candida. In this section, we’ll examine how to properly wash and prepare produce to reduce the risk of candida symptoms.

Washing Produce

Fruits and vegetables can carry traces of soil, pesticides, and bacteria. However, make sure you don’t clean them too aggressively since it can destroy some of the nutrients you are trying to keep.

Here are some detailed instructions to ensure a thorough cleaning process, all while keeping its rich nutrient profile.

General Washing Guidelines

  • Wash your hands. Before handling any produce, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds to prevent any cross-contamination.
  • Clean your surfaces. Ensure that the surfaces where you are going to be washing your produce are clean. Use hot, soapy water to wash cutting boards, countertops, and utensils before and after preparing your produce.

Leafy Greens and Herbs

  • Rinse under cold water. Hold the leafy greens and herbs under cold running water to allow the water to flow over each leaf. Gently rub the leaves with your fingers to loosen any dirt or debris.
  • Soak them if necessary. You can also soak them with vinegar or special produce cleaners. After soaking, make sure you rinse the leafy greens thoroughly.
  • Dry thoroughly. Shake off the excess water or use a salad spinner to remove moisture from the leafy greens or herbs. Pat them dry with clean kitchen towels or paper towels before storing or using them.

Firm Fruits and Vegetables

  • Rinse under cold water. Rinse firm fruits and vegetables (like apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers) under cold running water.
  • Avoid soaking. Unlike leafy greens, firm fruits and vegetables should not be soaked in water since they can absorb excess moisture and become soggy.
  • Dry thoroughly. After rinsing, make sure you pat dry the fruits and vegetables with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Berries and Delicate Fruits

  • Soak them. Place the berries in a mixture of vinegar and water to help preserve the berries and kill any mold spores or any other unwanted microorganisms.
  • Rinse gently. Rinse berries under gently flowing cold water. Avoid vigorous scrubbing as it can damage the delicate skin.
  • Dry carefully. To avoid brushing or crushing, spread the berries in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Pat them gently to remove excess moisture before storing or serving.

If you cannot buy organic ingredients, you can create a vinegar solution to help remove any pesticide residues. You can make a solution of water and vinegar (one part vinegar and three parts water) and allow the produce to soak for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing with cold water.

Preparation Techniques

The way you cut, peel, and process your food can make a significant difference in both its flavor and its nutritional availability. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Use different cutting boards. Make sure you have different cutting boards for all food groups. Avoid cutting your meats on the same cutting board you cut your fresh fruits and vegetables. This can significantly reduce cross-contamination.
  • Minimize peeling. Many fruits and vegetables contain valuable nutrients in or just below their skin. Whenever possible, leave the skins intact to maximize nutritional value.
  • Peel when necessary. Some fruits and vegetables have thick or inedible skin that should be removed before consumption. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
  • Cut uniformly. When cutting fruits and vegetables, aim for uniform pieces to ensure even cooking. This also facilitates more consistent nutrient absorption during digestion.

Cooking Methods

The way you cook your food directly affects its nutrient content. There are some cooking methods that can retain the food’s nutritional content, while others actually decrease its nutritional value.

Cooking Techniques Overview

When it comes to the candida diet, it’s important to choose the right cooking technique to maintain the integrity of the foods.

Here are some recommended cooking techniques.

  • Steaming. It can be a great way to cook an array of candida-friendly foods like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. This method can help retain their crisp texture and vital nutrients without adding any fats or oils.
  • Baking is a versatile option that allows you to create nutrient-rich treats like almond flour muffins or coconut flour bread. You can enjoy flavorful creations without compromising your dietary goals.
  • Sautéing. Lightly sautéing vegetables in olive oil or coconut oil can enhance their flavors while preserving their nutritional value. Make sure to choose heat and minimal cooking time to prevent excessive nutrient loss.
  • Poaching. Poaching delicate proteins like fish and poultry in a seasoned broth or water is a great way to infuse them with flavor while maintaining their tenderness. This gentle cooking method ensures that foods stay moist and delicious.

You’ve probably noticed that we haven’t talked about boiling and grilling. While these cooking methods are not particularly bad, having them on occasion is good.

Boiling is a quick and straightforward cooking method that involves immersing food in boiling water. However, boiling causes some nutrient loss, particularly water-soluble vitamins (those from the B complex and vitamin C).

Grilling over an open flame can add a smoky flavor to foods, making it a popular choice for many. However, excessive charring may produce potentially harmful components. So, when grilling, make sure you don’t overcook your meals to help them stay delicious and healthy.

Temperature and Time Guidelines

Part of cooking safely is ensuring that the food reaches a temperature that kills any harmful organisms. But you also don’t want to overcook your meals since it can destroy essential vitamins and minerals.

Here are some cooking temperatures to consider when making your meals.

Food Temperature
Beef, pork, lamb medium-rare 145°F (63°C)
Beef, pork, lamb medium 160°F (71°C)
Beef pork, lamb well-done 170°F (77°C)
Chicken and turkey 165°F (74°C)
Ground meat 160°F (71°C)
Fish 145°F (63°C)

Storing Cooked Foods

Once you cook your meals, it’s time to store it. However, this is one of the most crucial aspects of keeping the meals safe. Once you cook your meals, they have a higher risk of contamination and bacterial proliferation.

Proper storage can prevent harmful bacteria from reproducing and increasing the risk of candida symptoms.

Cooling and Storing

Proper cooling techniques are going to be essential to prevent bacterial growth and maintain the freshness of cooked foods. Here are some expert tips to help you master these crucial steps.

  • Cool down quickly. After cooking, cool hot foods promptly to prevent bacterial growth. Transfer cooked dishes to shallow containers to increase surface area exposure and facilitate faster cooling.
  • Refrigerate promptly. Once cooled, refrigerate cooked foods as fast as you can, ideally within 2 hours of cooking. Store them in airtight containers or tightly sealed bags to prevent contaminations and maintain freshness.
  • Labeling and dating. To avoid confusion and ensure food safety, make sure you label each container with the date of the preparation and the items in the storage container. Eat leftovers within three to four days to maintain optimal quality.
  • Safe storage temperature. Keep your fridge at 40°F (4°C) or below to slow down bacterial growth.

Freezing Techniques

Freezing and thawing can introduce bacteria if you don’t do it correctly. Follow these tips to freeze foods effectively.

  • Air removal. When using freezer bags, remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn and maintain freshness.
  • Flash freezing. For fruits, vegetables, or baked goods, flash-freeze individual pieces on a baking sheet before transferring them to containers to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Thawing safely. Thaw in the fridge overnight, or use the defrost setting on your microwave for a quicker method. Avoid thawing at room temperature to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.

Food Combining for Optimal Health

Food combining involves eating types of food together that are compatible with each other in terms of digestion. This can ease the load on your system and help you absorb the nutrients you need to fight candida.

Here are some food pairing suggestions to optimize digestion and nutrient absorption on the candida diet.

  • Leafy greens with healthy fats. Pair leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce with sources of healthy fats like avocado and olive oil. This combination supports the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and promotes satiety.
  • Proteins with non-starchy vegetables. Combine lean proteins like chicken, fish, or tofu with non-starchy vegetables. This pairing makes sure you get a balanced meal that is easy on the digestive system.
  • Complex carbs with fiber. Pair complex carbs with fiber-rich vegetables and legumes. This combination promotes stable blood sugar levels and supports digestive health.
  • Probiotic foods with prebiotics. Include probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut in your meals and pair them with prebiotic-rich foods like garlic and onions. This combination nourishes the gut microbiome and supports overall digestive health.

Safe Practices For Home Fermentation

While many fermented foods are not allowed on the candida diet, there are some, like sauerkraut, tempeh, and Greek yogurt, that can have beneficial effects.

Now, while store-bought fermented foods are readily available, many prefer to ferment their own creations at home. Here are some safe practices to ensure successful and hygienic home fermentations.

  • Use high-quality ingredients. We cannot emphasize this enough. Make sure that you start with fresh, hopefully organic ingredients. Filtered water is also an option to avoid chlorine and other chemicals that may inhibit fermentation.
  • Sanitize the equipment. Thoroughly clean and sanitize all utensils, jars, and equipment before you use them. Sterilize glass jars by boiling them or running them through dishwater on a hot cycle.
  • Follow recipes carefully. When fermenting at home, follow the recipes and instructions meticulously to ensure the proper balance of ingredients and fermentation time.
  • Maintain hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly after before handling ingredients or fermenting equipment to prevent contamination.
  • Control the fermentation environment. Maintain optimal fermentation conditions by controlling temperature, humidity, and exposure to light. Store fermented foods in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.

How To Avoid Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination can introduce new sources of bacteria into your kitchen, undoing all the hard work you’ve put into careful food selection and preparation. Here are some essential guidelines for minimizing cross-contamination in the kitchen.

  • Have an allergen-free zone. Designate specific areas in the kitchen as allergen-free zones where no prohibited foods or ingredients are allowed. This can include countertops, cutting boards, utensils, and even sections of the pantry or fridge.
  • Use separate utensils and cookware. Use designated items to prepare foods that have any allergens or possible bacteria. For example, don’t use the same cutting board to cut your vegetables and your chicken.
  • Minimize airborne contaminants. Be mindful of airborne contaminants that settle on the surfaces and can contaminate food. Use exhaust fans or open windows to ventilate the kitchen while cooking.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Encourage frequent hand washing, especially before and after handling different food groups. For example, after cutting and handling chicken, make sure to wash your hands when handling vegetables.


One of the most empowering aspects of battling with candida through diet is that much of the control is in your hands. By applying the best practices in food processing, you can enhance the benefits of your dietary choices, support your body, and minimize your health symptoms.

The commitment to processing foods carefully will not only help you manage candida more effectively but also may lead to better overall health and wellness. The steps outlined in this guide, when applied consistently, can contribute to your well-being and quality of life as you continue on your path to healing.

Remember, every meal you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body and fortify it against the invasions of candida. Take these food processing guidelines to heart, and you’ll find yourself one step closer to a fuller, healthier life.

If you have still got questions you can contact us at [email protected] and one of our in-house candida experts will answer your question. You can also call us at +1 (888) 508-3171 if you want to talk to one of our product specialists.