I’ve been asked at least a couple of times this week if I once reacted to any of the foods I currently eat. Once?? Any?? Blimey, I thought I’d been really clear on that on – I once reacted to ALL foods. And I mean all.
I didn’t know what I was dealing with in the beginning, not even that food bothered me. I’ll spare you my ramblings on that, it’s just too scary to see where my thoughts took me and all the avenues I ruled out. It’s actually just too painful to relive it all, even though in a way I do consider this blog to be therapeutic, for me and for you guys (or am I getting ahead of myself there?).
Once I worked out that food played some role, I began a food diary, which I wrote notes in religiously from 2009 to 2011. Here’s some of the entries (I’ve edited out the excessive punctuation and swearing). I have never had allergies, but despite negative test results, I remained convinced I somehow had them and persisted in calling my histamine/mast cell issues “allergies” and referring to my “acne” which turned out to be urticaria/hives. My most severe symptoms occurred before keeping this diary but I have also edited some out as I don’t want to upset anyone or plant any kind of idea that these are common histamine intolerance symptoms. They are not, which is why I kept searching for answers and then was finally diagnosed with mast cell activation. My anxiety symptoms were not really noted in my diary, because by now it was just a part of my life and I didn’t believe it had anything to do with what I was eating or putting on my skin (which is a huge part of it as I talk about in my beauty book).
10 Oct 09 Allergy bad today now throat swelling after one clove garlic and one tbsp spring onion. Ear swelled shut since eating.
25 Oct 09 Allergies pretty much gone, ate bell peppers though and throat suddenly massively swollen and painful suddenly, ears swollen shut too, sounds like I’m living life at the bottom of a swimming pool.
30 Oct 09 Ate chickpeas, lemon, olive oil, now horribly dizzy, can’t walk straight.
1 Nov 09 Rice don’t eat it! Bladder issues were resolved till rice. Now so much pain. Help me Yasmina! Do better dammit! Figure this out you stupid b***h!
11 Nov 2009 Lettuce scratchy throat, ear fullness, kidney beans make me SICK and nauseous.
15 Nov 09 Allergies disappeared! It was olive oil, all beans, lettuce and cabbage!
30 Nov 09 They’re back. Spasms, cramps, horrible anxiety. Almost fainted in supermarket today.
06 Dec 09 Miracle, everything has cleared up today on second day of low histamine diet. Skin beautiful.
13 Dec 2009 Dizzy again, anxiety, reacted to many low histamine foods.
17 Dec 09 Feeling almost normal today after the diflucan, must be the candida making me shake.
I was convinced for many years that all my issues stemmed from candida. They did not, it was just another red herring.
18 Dec 09 Dizziness caused by trapped nerve?
07 Jan 2010 No shaking last night.
09 Jan 10 Fruit makes me shake, don’t eat alone. Don’t eat peppers, they hurt you.
17 Jan 10 Parsley and coriander make me sick.
22 Jan 10 One sip green juice made my lips swell and brought back old symptoms for three days. Don’t try again.
30 Jan 10 Started Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live. I think this might be the answer.
18 Feb 10 Woke up relaxed but loud tinnitus. Have lost 5kg so far. Worried I’m starving myself. Am eating 500-800 cals. Weird salmon is always ok with me thought fish is high histamine???? I’ll never work this out!!
2 March 2010 Zucchini and olive oil made throat swell shut. Migraine, blurred vision, want to throw up.
4 March 10 Blood sugar crash/hypoglycemia again. Ran to pharmacy next door for fifth time this week, weird, again not registering ANY kind of blood sugar fluctuation. MUST be the candida, took another diflucan.
10 March 2010 Fasting – feeling great!!
11 March 10 Fast not going great. Broke out in horrible itching and spasms, epileptic seizure like again. Eyes rolling back lost control of my body.
7 July 10 Pomegranate made my throat swell shut. Onion making me itch.
13July 10 Feeling great till I ate dates. Never ever eat them again. Promise me.
17 July 2010 Up all night itching from cantaloupe and apple.
19 July 10 Ants are crawling all over my body.
22 July 10 Bananas give me joint pain stop them.
25 July 10 ALL fruits make me dizzy, especially mango.
18 Oct 11 Olive oil and blueberries give me spots.
25 Oct 11 Broccoli and cauliflower make me nauseous.
09 Nov 11 Quercetin makes me sick!!!!! Rice bladder pain, blueberries, butternut squash make me tired and give me spots.
25 Nov 11 Horrible spots from hummus. Stop eating it stupid.
As you can see, I wasn’t very nice to myself in those years. I somehow kept believing that I deserved whatever was happening to me, if only because I wasn’t smart enough to figure out the cause. I was carrying around so much anger at the time – at myself, my family and friends for telling me it was psychosomatic, the shrinks for telling me the same thing and medicating me to the gills. Most of all, the crushing anxiety I was dealing with made me mad, spitting mad, because I didn’t understand how I could let something created by my mind torpedo a career at CNN (it didn’t in the end – that was all in my mind) and stop me from doing something such basic things as drive a car or leave my apartment, or worse, be in my home, alone, without my mind scaring the hell out of me. I am now much kinder to myself. I realised that was the first step, and everything else follows. That it’s incredibly important to surround yourself with those who support your journey, and if there are none, that it’s time to go out and find them.
But, in the end of course, food turned out to play a huge role. Not as most people see it, by being the demon or the cause in this equation, but rather because food turned out to be my saviour. The point of my post today is to share that, like many of you, I was down to just a handful of “safe” foods by the time I realised that was the wrong approach to healing. Like many of you, I reacted strongly to beans, fruits and even the herbs that I now rely on so heavily. I don’t specifically get into it in the food diary, but rather in a separate document where I kept track of all the diagnoses and intolerances I believed myself to have. Among them salicylate intolerance (all the symptoms to all the medium-high sals foods), oxalate issues ad infinitum. Once I stopped basing my recovery on the exclusion of foods, the path to healing opened up to me. You can see my progression and my thought processes change with each of my successive cookbooks. I wrote the first using a food list given to me, before tossing it away in the third. By then I had understood that increasing nutritional intake, even in small amounts from foods that bothered me, was the key.
As was managing my stress. That was a biggie. I’ll write more about that next week, along with sharing my favourite new high protein pancake recipe.
Oh, if it’s not clear from my post, I now eat all the foods that were making me feel sick, as often as I want, whenever I want. There’s hope I promise. It’s not really about the food or the histamine in the end…
Be well xo
Please remember, even antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods can hurt us, please always exercise caution and consult a medical practitioner before adding new foods.