Update: nowadays I wish I hadn’t tried so hard to play histamine detective. In the end I believe it became counter productive, causing my amygdala to become hypersensitised and give me a fear of food. Read all about that here.
My decade (plus) as a journalist for CNN and the BBC definitely prepared me to deal with a pesky nuisance like my histamine disorder (be it histamine intolerance or whatever). When faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem – I just take a step back and figure out how the hell to make it work. There is no “can’t” in my vocabulary. Be it chartering private helicopters to airlift equipment, bribing ship captains to let us stow away, or finagleling team visas to Libya on two hours notice (in the Gaddafi years!) – I’ve done it all. So there’s no way I’m letting something like food (or illness) rule my life. I’ve outlined my approach to histamine/inflammation detoxing in my ebook the Anti-Detox – usually employing it before a big client presentation (this histamine chef thing is a side project for me) or when having to fly out to hot climates like Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt, all this last year.
Heat, as you may know, causes mast cells to degranulate, releasing their precious histamine cargo right into your bloodstream. There’s nothing like quite like turning beet red and blowing up into the Michelin man the minute you step off a plane to make you appreciate a good low histamine detox before traveling.
Now I’m going to cover what I believe to be one of the key secrets of successful low histamine living. It sounds so very basic that you may initially laugh: you need to know what food or cosmetic is causing which reaction. Simple right? But I can’t tell you how many emails I receive asking for diet analysis. I don’t mind doing it, but it must be so frustrating living a life where every little thing could be causing distress and there’s no way to figure out what’s what. I’m greatly indebted to Dr Fuhrman’s teachings on this one, as I figured out what was wrong with me initially after going on a three-day water fast. For crystal clear clarity there’s nothing quite like starting with as clean a slate as possible. Nowadays, I don’t do water fasts as any kind of stress can cause mast cells to release histamine – and I‘ve learned the hard way that kicking your body into survival mode definitely isn’t relaxing. The next best thing is the overnight semi fast (sleep!)…
I wake up after at least a 12 hour fast. I drink some water and wait an hour to get the blood pumping. Then I test the product or food. Only one thing at a time! Anaphylaxis for breakfast is a bit too much for any of us to bite off. I’ll either apply the product to my skin or eat the food item in question. Then I wait. I used to wait up to four hours, but nowadays my diet is so clean that I’m able to judge the severity in much less time. If I was dealing with mastocytosis or just generally going into shock like I used to, I’d keep a phone with the ambulance service on speed dial, an epi pen in my pocket and a fistful of antihistamines ready to go.
I then measure the severity of the reaction on a scale of one to ten and add it to my food diary. If you read my first detox post, you’ll know that I began my recovery by using www.fitday.com to check which minerals and vitamins I wasn’t getting. I then used www.nutritondata.com’s nutrient search tool to find the foods highest in the needed nutrients. I then created a diet for myself. I’ve taken this further now by only eating anti-inflammatory and antihistamine foods.
Given that I now know that the act of eating/digestion itself causes histamine release (no matter the food), I don’t stress too much over most reactions. My overall histamine level is so under control that I no longer go into shock or have the serious symptoms (POTS, dysautonomia, anaphylaxis), so I don’t sweat most of the lesser reactions. If a food is highly nutritious, anti-inflammatory and antihistaminic, I still include it in my diet, on a longer rotation. Thing is, we’re human. At some point I realised I was omitting healthy foods from my diet because I was reacting to them. I was left with plain foods like rice, sweet potato, zucchini etc (not particularly nutritious), but was still cheating with crappy food. I was ok with my reaction to crappy high histamine food but stressed by my reaction to healthy low histamine food. I realised then that I needed an attitude adjustment.
And so I made it. And so began my recovery: avoid the not particularly nutritious food, even if it gave me less of a reaction than the highly nutritious. Soon the vitamins and minerals kicked in and I was able to tolerate the good foods, and a lot more of the bad. But I stuck to my guns, got myself out of the bed I had been confined to for months. Found myself a business to start, countries to explore and the most amazing man to love. Life is good. I wish it for you too.
You’ll find a collection of all liquid high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes for days when my histamine bucket overflowed in the new Anti-Detox book.
The Anti-cookbook, while it doesn’t treat any conditions, due to its high nutrient, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients, has been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. It features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods. It comes in regular and Paleo.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes.
Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found.
Take a peek at my other low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes.
If you’ve found this information useful I’d appreciate your support (at no extra cost to you!) – please check out my online store for your health foods, supplements, kitchen items and beauty product purchases. Affiliate sales through my online store go towards maintaining the website, funding travel to interviews and purchasing all the lovely foods for my free online recipes. You’ll find these items in the “Shop with us” drop down menu on my homepage.
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.