The food diary

mr itchKeeping a food diary is an absolute must as you navigate this road. There are many lists of foods that are high in histamine or are histamine liberators, but not one of those lists will be completely accurate for your body. The foods that make me itch might not make you itch even if they are on a list. The only way to know is to first eliminate them and then add them back in.

Basically, you almost have to start with the lists of high histamine foods you’ll find all around the Internet. (Check out this site for a really well researched list) Once you match up your diet to the lists, eliminate the high histamine foods, the liberators, and the DAO enzyme suppressors. (More on the science later) Once your symptoms abate, mine are the itching, sleeping problems, and the hot flashes, you can add something back in to see if it’s an offender. For example, I can’t eat tomato sauce but I can put a few slices of tomato on a sandwich. It’s like putting a puzzle together. Once you get your histamine levels down, when you stumble onto one of those things you shouldn’t eat you’ll know!

I had no idea avocado was a high histamine food. It took only about thirty seconds before my arm “lit up” for me to know I was not going to be eating avocados any time soon again. I used to eat cauliflower by the head practically and now I go insane with itching if I eat even a piece. And cauliflower is supposed to be relatively “safe.”

I cannot drink nettle tea, a popular antihistamine, nor can I have chamomile, also known to be good for lowering histamine levels. Yet I can eat bananas and most nuts. But you’ll find those on many lists of don’ts.

So I write it all down. From morning until night. Every single thing I ingest, how it makes me feel, when the itch started, where it is on my body, how long it lasted and what killed it! It’s all very detailed and probably even a bit OCD, but it’s my tangible connection to the reality of my situation. Before I started my food diary, the itching was arbitrary and random. With the food diary, it is grounded in fact.

And the fact is, I have histamine intolerance, and no amount of wishing and hoping right now seems to make it go away. So my food diary is my road map to sanity. I’ve become very attached to my yellow pad. It tells my story.

The things I miss most:

Chocolate
Spinach
Cauliflower
Green Tea
Avocado
Tomato Sauce
Vinegar
Aged cheese
Beer

I’m sure I’ve left a ton of stuff off that list so I’ll update it later. And we do need to discuss supporting your low histamine diet with supplements. Click on the Supplements tab for information on the supplements I take to help manage my histamine intolerance.

27 comments on “The food diary
  1. Liz says:

    Hi stumbled on your site last night! I’v e been battling my skin for two years I turned 50 this year and am perimenopausal and about to slit my wrists no one seems to know what to do with me ! After a successive night scratching no sleep I’m going to further look into your diet !

  2. Linda johnson says:

    Hi, as I have suffered with allergies all my life I knew I was having an allergic reaction to my menopause. I went to the doctor and SHE said she’d never heard of people itching in menopause. She said it was something else and sent me for blood tests. They have all come back negative because I know my body and recognise an allergic reaction when I have one. Not much hope for us though if a female doctor knows nothing about the menopause. My itching always appears after a hot flush, this morning it was accompanied by a horrible nettle rash but I had only had the same breakfast I always have and it’s never caused a problem before. I had pepoermint tea, special K with red berries and soya milk, can you see anything wrong with that?

    • Yes everything!

      Peppermint is a known hot flash trigger. Special K is a processed food and can have God knows what in it. Soy is very estrogenic, and berries can be high in histamine.

      And I could not drink nettle tea. It made me itch.

      Yep, sounds like you’re on to something. Your doctor needs a lesson on the menopause histamine connection!

  3. heatherselin says:

    All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you for providing evidence-based information and theories on this site. I’m a long time allergy/atopic dermititis sufferer, going ballistic because of menopause.

    I’m on increasing doses of prednisone and sleeping pills – which work but of course with horrible long-term side effects. However, as a very science-literate person who has spent a lot of time and money both on “alternative” medicine as well as on hard-nosed allergy docs, I’m also sick of hearing people say, “have you tried alternative remedies?”

    To me, we need to eliminate the “alternative” vs “medical” distinction and instead talk about which approaches have science-based evidence to support them and which don’t. Quacks abound and can be expensive, not to mention time-consuming and dangerous, while lots of “science-based” sites are trying to sell expensive but unnecessary or ineffective supplements or drugs.

    Your site seems to be sorting through the quackery and profit-mongers on both ends of the spectrum so, again, thank you!

  4. Sharon says:

    I’ve been up since 4:30 researching and found your blog! I am 54, can’t sleep, skin itch, runny and stopped up nasal passages, brain fog, emotional mess!
    5 years ago I could drink wine, have a beer and eat anything I wanted. Now, hair color, any alcohol (red wine my fav is the worst) and Thai, Japanese, Mexican all the foods that I love seem to trigger me. It’s amazing I can drink one sip of alcohol and have started in the last couple of months with hot flashes night sweats, my hands and feet itch. I have a place under my shoulder blade that has been itching for over a year.
    I just found you and am so excited to read your blog and see how it can help me! I was beginning to think I was going crazy!

    • Sharon says:

      I meant to say I can drink one sip of alcohol and my nasal passages close, I start itching and I don’t sleep at all! Some foods do the same.

    • Weirdly, the whole thing started with an itch under my shoulder blade too. I just could not ever make it stop. Once I healed my intolerance that itch finally went away.

      Unfortunately I had to give up beer permanently. I do miss it still. I had one sip of a friend’s beer a couple of months ago and it was soooo good. But I can’t drink a glass. Very sad…

  5. Tami Banchy says:

    Looking for possible causes of post menopausal hot flashes, headaches, skin splotches. Your site may have the explanation. I already know I have food intolerances that when eaten too much of cause fibromialgic pain symptoms. BUT I still eat some of these foods occasionally as long as I don’t hurt too bad. I strongly believe that I need to get back on track to eliminate those foods and probably check out the histamine food list as well. Thank you for your blog. It has been very helpful.

  6. Susi says:

    I got a lot of insect bites in my garden a few weeks ago and was itchy for a while (I am in Australia – possibly sandflies). They take a while to go but soon after they went I started getting hives and being itchy all over, every day a little bit. Then I had a flu shot at work and also reacted with getting itchy. It’s been 6 weeks and I last at most 48 hours between anti-histamines without going crazy. I am 50 and although I knew there was a chance this had something to do with menopause, I couldn’t really explain what was happening. I seem to react to the things I have always reacted slightly – cold temperatures, dust, showers in autumn( never could really explain that one) – but just in an exaggerated way. When I cook and have hot steam in the kitchen I go crazy. It all seems to make sense now. I will have to look at natural ways to keep histamine levels down, which will be hard work. I haven’t even bothered to go to a doctor as in the past with long term mysteries they can’t really help, you have to work at it yourself.
    Linda – you often wonder what planet some doctors are on! When I was in my 20s and I had problems with cystitis after sex ( a well known connection to many people) my gynecologist at the time said she’s never heard of such thing – a woman in her 60s!!
    Luckily there is the internet – imagine women suffering in silence with no sympathy from predominantly male doctors in the past!

    Thank you so much for this site!

  7. Michelle says:

    i have just found this site and am looking forward to exploring it further. I have been diagnosed with Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (which I believe is uncontrollable hive for no apparent reason). My doctor has sent me to a skin specialist who first put me on a low salicylate diet, with double doses of antihistamines which had no effect whatsoever. I feel that it is hormonal as I have never been allergic to anything in my life and have always had good health. I am 51 and probably haven’t had a period for about 2 months now. I don’t seem to have any hot flushes or any other symptoms of menopause or peri -menopause. My legs, arms and body and even my neck are often covered with raised hives and they are extremely itchy. This is driving me absolutely crazy. I am trying to still work full time with all this going on (glad it is winter here in Australia). Sometimes I find it calms down at night when I am in bed and my body temperature seems to be constant,

    • Well please read on! There’s so much information here. Start with the Index of Posts on the Current Thoughts tab. You can heal this!

      Dale

    • W Knight says:

      OMG, that sounds like me. My head started to itch on Feb 14, 2017 and since then I started breaking out in hives. The other weird thing is I have a creepy crawly sensation going on with my skin – it feels cold to the touch, but inside it feels like my skin is burning. I feel this more on the bottom of my feet, across my upper back and along my jaw line.

  8. Valinda Beasley says:

    Hello Dale,

    I’m 63, healthy, active and happy. I watch my diet seriously and have eliminated all soda, fast food, alcohol, chocolate and most sweets. Complex carbs still tease me into submission….but less everyday. I do have 8-10 flashes a day, 2-4 per night and mood swings from hell. After 13 years of trying acupuncture, holistic remedies, antidepressants, hypnosis, creams, vitamins, drugs for hypertension and HRT (Vivelle dot) via a very costly “specialist” I STILL have flashes. Oh, and I added headaches with the HRT. It reduced the number but never eliminated them. I stumbled on Benadryl and found it is very effective. I had to ask myself, if it is a hormone imbalance why does Benadryl work? If it’s truly hormonal why didn’t the HRT work more effectively. I’m determined to find an answer! About 2.5 weeks ago I stopped using HRT. For the most part I was amazed at how I was sailing through the withdrawal. Then I had a day of intense mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats. Took a Benadryl and the symptoms subsided. Then a day without Benadryl when I felt like myself again. While reading the millionth (little exaggeration) article about the possible solutions, reviews, supplement advertisements and the overwhelming list of “Menopause Specialists”, I wanted to throw up. I went back to my doctor to discuss the long term effects of taking an antihistamine and btw why does it work for hormone replacement. I was just as annoyed as I was the first 100 times I nursed the illusion he actually knew the answers. He’s a good doc….but I’m better at knowing what makes me tick. So I went back to the web and kept searching for any tidbit of information that would explain why I’m one of the unlucky ones that “will probably have symptoms for life”. What’s so different about the women who sails through without one measly flash.

    I found your blog and read your articles, researched the topic, had a flash or two and almost cried. Finally something that makes sense. I discontinued the Benadryl and started an elimination diet. Wish me luck….

    • Thank you so much for writing. I am confident you can eliminate the hot flashes and mood swings almost entirely.

      Actually, I can’t tell you the last time I had a mood swing. Maybe two years ago? And my hot flashes are one or two every few days, depending on what I eat that I shouldn’t, at the most.

      Keep me updated on your progress!

      Dale

  9. Diane Schacht says:

    Thank you so much for this site. I was researching itching and menopause and am so happy to know that I am not alone in the itching and so far doctors just say I don’t know what could be causing it, just use some over the counter itch cream – which doesn’t work – I am looking forward to exploring more into what exactly is triggering my itching. I hope it is not the beer I have seen in many post. I will be very sad.

  10. Lisa Quinn says:

    I also, through lots of research and trial and error have realized I have a histamine intolerance brought on by Perimenopause. I suddenly became asthmatic with several scary bouts of Anaphylaxis. I had something called Costochondritis which is a swelling of the connective tissue between your ribcage which was extremely painful and there is no known reason. I also had Itchy skin and hives with no apparent trigger. Doctors were not any help. I finally realized benadryl helped the symptoms but not completely. Then I also realized it always started with food. If I didn’t eat I felt better. So that is where my research started. I cut out gluten, anything with yeast, yogurt, balsamic vinegar, citrus fruit, aged cheese, and tomato sauce. I am able to have some vinegar in small amounts. The key for me is only having one or two of the triggers in a meal in small amounts. If I feel asthma symptoms I have to cut way back for a day or two. Thank you for making this blog! I wish I had found it years ago when this all started. There is hope though. I have very few symptoms and I can even still have wine. Anything cultured or with yeast are my worst triggers. I do still have the night sweats though. I am working on eliminating that and I have found that olive oil helps so I am going to supplement with that as you suggested. I tried Quercetin in the past and it didn’t help but that was before I eliminated most of my triggers. Thanks for the supplement info – it is very important. I also take black seed oil, DIM, Adrenal Health Daily Support, Calcium D-Glucarate and Align and L planetarium probiotics.

    Eliminating all this food is hard to do at first but then when you start feeling so much better it is worth it.

  11. HOPE LAUREL says:

    Thank you so much for this site. I am 45 and never thought about my rash/hives being related to pre menopause. Two years ago I had sweaty palms at night. So I had doctor test hormones and told me all was fine and not pre meno. Two years later I wake up with sweating arms and get hives from it. Thought it was just a reaction to pet dander. I had an allergist do scratch test and am allergic to many things but I stay away from those and still bad hives. A boyfriend said maybe it was hormones and I argued that had nothing to do with that. Well today I get to tell him he is most likely correct. Ha! Went over the food list and I eat many of the things on it. So will start my journey with the elimination diet and food diary. Wish me luck and once again thank you all who share your journey.

  12. Alison says:

    I have found your site today, this is a life saver for me!

    I started suffering from ‘something’ allergy related 2 years ago (I am 53) I had some patch tests a couple of months ago and it was concluded I was allergic to balsam of peru, after reading this, I think this has got to be part of what is going on. I’ve noted the ‘no no’ food lists and I’ve just ordered some Querecetin with Bromelain tablets and Olive leaf extract capsules. Everything you have written makes perfect sense, at last I realise I am not going mad. Thank you so much for this information

    Alison

  13. Liz says:

    Hi Everyone,
    Well what a great site I have stumbled upon. I’m 51, menopausal and suffering terribly with rash on inside of wrist and some on forearm. Part of which is hormone triggered as well as
    diet etc etc. I do Bio feedback with a lady in Bendigo (Australia). Bio Feedback is basically
    electronic kinesiology which helps reset your system, finds what supplements/foods suit or don’t suit. But your system can change day to day or week to week. From one visit to next
    (2 weeks) my systems tolerance can change. But the histamine link we haven’t worked on.
    I have mint green tea, chamomile, and lemon ginger teas every morning. Yes all in the 1 mug together. Yes I’m on a very limited diet, but now I’m wondering if what I’ve been eating
    that we thought was showing ok is now not. Very frustrating. Yes doctors mostly don’t know
    s–t. They want to do skin tests etc etc. But that only treats systems not causes. I had a
    doctor want me to have a very diluted bleach bath for rash. What a nut. No way was I going to put bleach any where near my ultra sensitive skin. But funnily enough I have really no
    hot flashes, night sweats finished long time ago. Have a lot of trouble sleeping, cause my damn brain don’t go to sleep. Monkey chatter hardly stops.
    Moods ok. But forever tired. On vitamin supplements. Fish oil, zinc, vit c.1000mg, Vit Mega B, Mega Magnesium, Cal Mag with Vit D, Extra Vit D, & Probiotic. Plus super green powder.
    Have been able to eat cauliflower, avocado, (but not having avocado at the moment) but have had to have a lot of organic foods.
    A lot of green’s have been out as well as potato. Alcohol is out. Damn
    Back on steroids to help with the redness of rash. Hate taking them but they do help relieve the sore red skin.
    Hope this helps someone out there.
    Cheers
    Liz

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