As you may have read in my “3 days off diet = 3 weeks recovery“, I ditched the histamine intolerance diet for a few days. It didn’t agree with me, so now I’m back on the horsey. Giddyup I say! I then realised this is the perfect time to share some of my tips and tricks for bringing down my histamine level in a hurry. Now I’m a natural healing kind of gal and as such I don’t rely on herbs or any other such 21st century malarcky. Ok, so not true, but I’m not a doctor. So we’re down to the bare bones – which is really how I do it most of the time.
THE LOW HISTAMINE DETOX WEEK 1
BLOOD. I NEED BLOOD!
I’ve just had my blood work done. Not only will your test results tell you it’s safe to embark on a high nutrient low histamine diet, checking in with your doc is a must before changing something as crucial as your diet. Lay out your plans for the next few weeks and ask for his blessing. When you bring back your test results to him, he’ll have to eat a number of his words. I usually like to squeeze an “well if you manage to do that through diet I’ll eat your test results.”
It has happened.
Not that they actually went through with it, but for them eating their words is just as hard.
DETOX YOUR KITCHEN
I’m blessed to live with a man who is as healthy an eater as I am. More so even. Luckily he loves my tasty low histamine food – when I’m whipping up new recipes for the low histamine recipes books or blog anyways. Otherwise I’ll sometimes just skip real food and brew up whatever’s in the fridge, zap it in the blender and call it soup! Here’s the thing. I wasn’t always able to live with marmalade or gingerbread cookies lurking in the cupboard. The idea of Ben and Jerry’s languishing in the freezer, unattended, forlorn, made it impossible for me to sleep without a midnight skulk into the kitchen for “one last” spoon, till not a scraping was to be had.
At that point I just said “Stop the insanity.” Yes, I watched a lot of 80s informercials and lusted after Susan Powter’s incredible charisma! But that’s what I did. I cleared out EVERYTHING that was on the high histamine lists. Nothing remained but a pack of rye crackers, two measly carrots and a shaker of himalayan sea salt.
The supermarket was my next challenge. I found myself lingering in the naughty aisles, having nervous breakdowns over whether I should take home a box of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. After all, they were the first brand in over a year (compulsive label reader right here) that didn’t have soy (which I’m allergic to). But I was in TOTAL denial. Really, the minute amount of soy lecithin in those cookies was the least of my worries. For despite being organic, sugar was the first ingredient on the list (meaning it’s the main ingredient), and white sugar makes me degranulate faster than a bag of demerara being attacked by cannabinoid receptor testing rodents.
The answer was simple. Yes I could have the cookies as long as I was prepared to spend the next few days in a histamine induced coma, hugging the toilet like my long lost war buddy. Eventually I was not ok with that. So now I order my groceries online. I have a regular low histamine shopping list and I run out for fresh foods or get an organic seasonal box delivered right to my door. I do still love going to the supermarket, and occasionally bad stuff still does happen, but now my poison is usually dried mango, olive oil rice crackers, or other such tasty treats. It’s funny how taste buds adapt so quickly…
FIND YOUR CRACK
Ok, I’ll say it. Histamine is addictive. That’s why it’s so hard to say goodbye to the foods we know hurt us. Our bodies tremble with desire, every neuron in our brain cries out, feed me histamine! It’s funny how the foods we crave the most are usually the most harmful. I ate soy sauce obsessively at almost every meal, for years, till finding out that I was allergic to it. How about that. It would make me tremble, making it almost impossible to work the chopsticks I insisted on using at almost every meal. You try picking up cornflakes with those suckers, I was almost there. Yup that’s how devoted I was to the ‘sticks.
I started small, choosing 10 high histamine foods that I knew would make a huge difference in my quality of life. They were soy products – and believe me I was tempted to split them up: tamari, shoyu, edamame, tofu etc – but I managed to restrain myself, shellfish, processed foods, canned foods, leftovers, tomato paste, white sugar, chocolate, balsamic vinegar. I saved the rest for another day. This whole journey I’ve found that setting myself small, realistic goals helps me feel a sense of acheivement and excitement on this path.
CUT OUT THE CUTTING
If I knew then what I know now…darn it I would have healed a hell of a lot faster! Cut cut cut was all I did. I needed some nutrients in my low histamine life, but I was just too scared to add anything new. What I wasn’t taking into consideration was that my body was running out of ammo. It desperately needed reinforcements but I was too clueless to know how. The histamine-lowering diamine oxidase enzyme doesn’t just make itself you know. DAO requires a steady supply of nutrients (more on that in my DAO Support Low Histamine Cookbook).
In the last three years I have learned so very much about natural antihistamines and the role of inflammation in histamine disorders. I’ve been steadily adding natural antihistamines to my diet. Fresh thyme, oregano, holy basil, sweet basil, coriander, parsley, peppermint, mint, sweet potato, butternut squash, chickpeas, lentils. Ok, so some of them bothered me a little, especially when I introduced them, but in the long run I kept the ones my immune system finally accepted, and just kept the other ones on a long rotation. I’ve tried to add more foods from the part of the world that I’m from – the idea being that I was born with enzymes for those foods – and it’s definitely working. Before you go running out to buy a sackful of Big Macs, let me just add that I mean indiginous, natural foods.
In total I decided to add five new, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods to my diet.
One of the most important steps I took in the cutting and re-nutritioning phase was to track my diet. I’m talking nutrients, calories, moods and symptoms. The best tool I’ve found for this is www.fitday.com. You can add your moods/reactions in the journal section. This diary proved invaluable in my recovery. See I’ve not only eliminated high histamine foods, but also anything that has really bothered me. I can’t tell you the relief nowadays that I can consult my diary and see that rye causes bloating, which in turn causes UTI/IC symptoms, which drive me up the freaking wall. See, thing is, there’s a lot to keep track of. And despite my seemingly reletntless work ethic and encyclopedic medicinal herb reference of a brain, I can’t remember everything. I might stop eating rye for a few months, then eat it every few days for a week and then freak out trying to work out why on earth I’m running to pee every five minutes. Now I just look it up, and order is restored in my universe. It sounds exhausting, but you know what, so is not knowing that the hell is wrong with you and then spending weeks suffering and chasing your tail. Organisation is the way to do it! I’ve found that setting up a few basic processes helps me lead a normal life. Well, as normal as it’s gonna get!
The diary/nutrient count allowed me to write up a plan of which nutrients I needed to get back into my diet. I then held onto this list till the second week…
So that’s my round up of all the logical stuff I did in week one of my detox. Next up will be a list of my hardcore meal choices for the week!
Don’t forget to check out the low histamine cookbooks for more information on food preparation and plenty of recipes.