My lunch of a few days ago – zucchini noodles with creamy avocado sauce and nigella.
In my line of work (the business of being healthy and spreading calm and happiness), the question I’m asked the most is:
“Why have you used X in your recipe, I thought it was high histamine?????????????????”
Heard me say this before? Sorry – I have talked about this many, many, many times, and yet I am still asked it at least five to ten times a day.
Often, the answer is that my research has turned up that the food has antihistaminic and anti-inflammatory benefits.
How can a food be both high histamine and antihistamine? Well, foods do many things. One compound may raise histamine and another lower it. The next compound is highly anti-inflammatory. And it all may work synergistically with other foods.
At the end of the day, I honestly believe all these lists are a crapshoot and that the ability to tolerate foods fluctuates depending on what’s happening in the body at that point.
If I use a couple of dates/X food that may appear on a list as high histamine somewhere in the world of web it’s because:
1. The alternative is refined sugar or something else with no nutritional value.
2. The food I have chosen has anti-inflammatory benefits.
3. I have found studies showing it has antihistaminic properties and I honestly can’t figure out why it’s on high histamine lists.
4. It has anticancer benefits. Until someone proves to me that dietary histamine causes cancer, I’m eating the foods that’ll stop me from dying a horrible death. (Yes anaphylaxis is horrible too – but most don’t experience it).
5. The food I have chosen is high nutrient whereas the “organic gluten dairy nut free tiny bag of potato chips or cupcake” you’re still allowing in your diet are most definitely not. Until your diet is that of a freaking saint, there’s really NO point in stressing a bit of avocado, mushroom or banana. I mean come on, will these foods hurt you more than a cheeky glass of wine/sneaky moccachino? Please be honest with yourself. You will eat crap foods and still be on speaking terms with your conscience but fool yourself that you should worry about lentils. That’s because lentils don’t taste as good as “just a couple of squares of organic whole milk vegan-ish chocolate”. I’m not saying the chocolate is evil, just that maybe you should consider that even if lentils were high histamine, the odds that half a cup of them not being better for your overall health than any amount of store bought, processed, chocolate, is slim to none. (Unless you’re allergic.)
6. Trying to get healthy by eliminating high nutrient foods is like trying to dance about architecture. (It’s a famous quote, google is your friend).
7. Best selling author, Dr Oz and Oprah favourite Dr Fuhrman summed it up best for me: “You can’t put this problem in a vacuum. Such as avoiding histamine containing foods, on a standard deficient and toxic diet. The body works in conjunction with thousands of complicated chemical reactions, and only with superior nutrition can the histamine sensitivity be better controlled. So exposure to thousands of phytochemicals and even to a low dose of histamine in their diet is good, not bad and can offer hope of getting better over the years to come.“
8. Though I may include one high histamine food, the rest of my meal/day is comprised entirely of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods, and that, I believe, not only allows me to “tolerate” these foods, but also to benefit greatly.
9. I believe that worrying about the minutiae of this diet and making mealtime a punishment rather than a pleasure, makes you much sicker in the long run.
10. I don’t honestly believe that any list can address the mystery and beauty of nature, our body’s relationship to it, and the power of the mind to make us sick or well.
I think it’s worth asking, if what you’ve been doing is working, why are you still not feeling well?
It’s such a loaded question, one that has many answers, but a huge part of it is that elimination only takes us so far (the other being that food isn’t the root cause, something many still don’t understand).
I absolutely believe that sticking to a low histamine diet is the first stage. But having spent two years stuck on that elimination step, I can honestly say it was the worst mistake I’ve made on this journey.
I believe that approaching foods in fear, testing, waiting, expecting the worst, caused my brain to become sensitised to all foods.
Understanding that food wasn’t my enemy, but rather my partner in healing, was incredibly liberating, allowing me to break free of my self-imposed dietary shackles.
I’m not telling people to go out and eat high histamine foods. If you’re prone to anaphylaxis, it’s definitely not a good idea. If your diet is still pretty crappy, it’s definitely not something to be done. If you haven’t stabilised yet or removed all histamine raising beauty products from your life, again, not a great idea. It’s very important to understand what’s causing what, but there came a point that I needed to let go and just enjoy life.
My books have many, many substitutions and though coming books will feature a number of these higher histamine foods for those who wish them, they will also have the regular low histamine option.
I’m saying, if you can, try to chill out a little and don’t sweat the small stuff.
There’s a reason the saying goes: “The devil’s in the details.”
Please don’t forget antihistamine, pain killing foods can still hurt us, so please always check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet.