Before I move on to writing about new things I wanted to write a post addressing the questions I get all the time, to shed a little light on what the future might look like to someone who’s just discovered histamine intolerance might be the issue that’s been torturing them.
There are two or three things that people always want to know.
- What food list did I use to identify histamine in foods?
- What supplements do I still take?
- How long did it take to heal?
Let’s start with the easy one first. What food list did I use? I started by going from site to site, but did find one list I really liked. The person whose blog it is also went from site to site but they made a list and marked by the food how many times they found it listed on other sites as a high histamine food. So they did a lot of the work.
This is the site.
Remember that lists are only the starting point. I found keeping a journal was an important step to keeping track of what made me react. I reacted to a lot of things that were not on any list. So I made my own lists early on and stopped worrying about what I found on the Internet. What makes me itch might not make you itch! I could eat a lot of things that were high histamine, like strawberries, but could not eat cauliflower, which was not a high histamine food or even a histamine liberator. It was on all the “safe” food lists. So you can start by looking at lists but then figure it out for yourself from there.
Ok, next. What supplements do I take? Keeping in mind I’m vegetarian, I use nutritional yeast for the B vitamins. B12 is hard to get if you don’t eat meat so I’ve used that for many years. It’s also good for the rest of the B vitamins that are very important to combat intolerance. I don’t take an Omega 3 anymore but eat a lot of walnuts. Chia is also a good source. I still use my beloved olive oil religiously. I use it in my morning smoothie and I still use it as a moisturizer on my legs. (I keep it in a little roll top perfume bottle and roll it on)
I also take a half a teaspoon of olive leaf in my smoothie. Notice I did not say extract. That’s because I use actual olive leaves. I buy them from someone on Etsy and then grind them up in a little coffee grinder. I used to buy them from a grove in Florida but I think they might have gotten hammered by hurricane Irma. Olive leaf keeps hot flashes away.
Lastly I take a ginger capsule, one in the morning and one at night. There’s about a quarter of a teaspoon of dried ground ginger in a capsule. I put it in a capsule because I forget to take it otherwise. It’s too strong to put in my smoothie flavor wise. I buy fresh ginger, peel it and chop it, and leave it to dry on a paper towel for a few days. Then I grind it into powder. Yes it’s a lot of work to stay healthy isn’t it?
But that’s it. I’m off everything else, and as you can see I’m really just using food as supplements.
Now how long it took me to heal… This is trickier to answer because I don’t think I ever really healed. I think I brought my body into balance and now I’m in control. What’s the difference? Healing implies it all goes away. Being in control means it’s an issue I still have to deal with but I don’t suffer from it anymore. But I can tell you there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it at some point in the day. I am constantly assessing the things that go in me and on me. I am always measuring how I feel against what I ate or drank. And I am always deciding about whether I should or shouldn’t eat something based on how I know I’ll feel in an hour or in a day.
I wrote something down the other day that I think explains it in a nutshell: Is the payoff greater than the pain?
A lot of people write me and lament the fact that they are doing everything possible to feel better, except, you know, for that glass of wine they drink every night. I always tell them when you decide it’s not worth the itching or the migraine you know you’re going to endure you’ll give it up. The payoff of feeling better is way better than the pain, trust me. But it seems to be human nature to not want to give stuff up that we love.
I’ve given up a lot of things and I’m way better off for it. The things I can think of off the top of my head are that I don’t eat chocolate anymore. I don’t eat packaged foods except every now and again when I fall off the wagon at a party and stand by the chip and dip bowl. I never went back to eating spinach. I don’t drink green tea. (I love it but it gives me hot flashes) And I don’t drink alcohol anymore. Well except for last Friday night when I tried clear tequila in a mixed drink and regretted it the entire next day when I woke up feeling as if a bus ran me over. So now I don’t drink alcohol anymore…
If you need a timeline of getting myself right again I’d say it took me three months until I could eat anything other than butternut squash, apples, and broccoli. (I always ate nutritionally dense foods even if the selection was limited. This is very important to rebalancing the body.) I slowly reintroduced foods back into my diet, and by about six months I was on summer break in Florence eating gnocchi in the plaza.
It was another year before I tried the things that really made me itch, and maybe another two or three to eat some of the big scary things that gave me the worst reactions. Like I finally did try spinach but I was pretty afraid of it and still don’t eat it. After about five years I finally eat avocados pretty often. But the minute I start to feel foggy, I stop buying them for a couple of months. Mangos give me hot flashes but I’m willing to have them for a couple of months when they are in season in Miami. There are some things worth suffering for!
Oh, and it took me about year or more before I went back to showering. I had to take cool baths because hot water gave me hives. And I couldn’t use a razor on my legs for a few years. I used an electric shaver. But I use a razor now.
The point is, it took some time and a lot of work to get back to normal, and it takes a lot of work to maintain. I am ever vigilant. I know when I’ve stepped over the line when my eyes feel fat or I wake up in the morning with brain fog. Every once in a while I’ll see one hive, freak out, and go on high alert! I grab the butternut squash and apples and I start looking around at what little things I’ve let seep back in and clean up my act right away.
I do believe if I were to let everything slide; if I were to eat anything and stop using my olive leaf, ginger, and olive oil I’d be right back to square one itching and flashing away. That’s why I say I don’t think I’m healed as much as controlled.
I hope this gives you a little insight into what I do to maintain a reaction free life and how long it took. And let me just say that some things that bedeviled me for years before I went acute with intolerance have not come back. For example, I scratched my legs bloody for most of my life. I don’t anymore. I’m in better shape now because I was probably intolerant to some degree my whole life.
To give you a little more info on me for context, I am pretty fit hundred pound gal. I run two miles a day and ride my bike on weekends. (I know some people are afraid to exercise because sweat makes them itch but I never cared. I always ran right through it. It was too important to me to give up.) I get eight hours of sleep a night and take no medications. I do sun salutations, when I remember, to work my upper body, and although I work hard to stay fit I am also the laziest person I know. I love to watch Netflix laying on pillow on the floor, and can do that all day if there’s nothing going on. In essence, I take pretty good care of myself because I believe it gives me a good quality of life and it’s all worth it.
Anyway, now that I’ve dispensed with old business and shared a bit, I will start to focus on new stuff. So stay tuned! I’m off to make some butternut squash and apple soup; rebalancing after my tequila sunrise lapse in judgement!
As always, I welcome all comments.