Hi friends! Today my sweet friend Kami (from livinggraceblog.com) is making a guest appearance talking about the low histamine diet! She is such a kind-hearted, positive, inspirational person, and she shares openly about life with chronic lyme disease on her blog. I highly recommend checking out her site, especially if you are someone who has dealt with chronic illness–her writing is healing. Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and please consider helping her fight lyme, if you feel so inclined!
My Experience on the Low Histamine Diet
Throughout these last few years I have tried a handful of different diets, all in the name of supporting my body as it fights chronic Lyme disease. What began as a gluten free diet, later became gluten and dairy free. Then it was the Wahl’s protocol for a few weeks. Eventually I landed with a modified Paleo diet last year and remained on that.
Following each of these restricted diets has been a struggle. Just like anyone else who’s ever embarked on a diet knows: this whole restricted-eating-reality isn’t easy. We’re the ones who can hardly eat anything offered at gatherings, the last ones in the group to pick off a menu and the ones who may even bring our own food to someone’s house, just to be safe.
But as hard as it’s been, it’s also been good for me. I’ve slowly gained understanding about what my body can handle when it comes to food. And I’m learning how to support it when it’s struggling more than usual.
A few months ago I made yet another switch to my food routine. After hearing a friend’s experience with the low histamine diet I decided to give it a try. In addition to sharing my diagnosis with chronic Lyme disease, she’d been diagnosed with histamine intolerance. And since many of our symptoms were eerily similar, it seemed worth looking into for myself.
Histamine Intolerance is exactly as it sounds: it means your body can’t effectively process histamines. We naturally consume them through the food we eat and they’re also released during an allergic reaction.
In healthy individuals, their bodies will use Diamine oxidase (DAO) enzymes to break down histamine. However, some people have a deficiency of DAO which leads to an influx of histamines overwhelming their body. This results in a variety of symptoms that can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms like fatigue, headaches, asthma, dizziness, arrhythmia, and hives may be attributed to another diagnosis, treated as an isolated incident, yet continue to persist.
After familiarizing myself with the diet I felt like I had nothing to lose. I would try it out for a minimum of 4 weeks and monitor any changes. But first I needed to hold a funeral for the many belly friends I had become besties with over the past year.
Anything that was high in histamines or even a histamine-releasing food, needed to be cut from the list. Which meant saying goodbye to some of my heartthrobs: avocados, lemons, tomatoes, cashews, bananas, and more! And in case you were wondering: it’s still sad.
Prior to each meal I did my best to take a DAO pill, which is a histamine blocker. It’s designed to help the body process the histamines present in each meal, which is especially helpful if one has low DAO enzyme production.
I’ve now been on this diet for a few months and I’m going to be honest with you: I still have a chronic, intense illness and my symptoms still knock me down for the count regularly. However, there are a few things I’ve noticed some improvement in since I began. I’ve seen a lessening of stomach bloating, stomach cramps, inflammation, certain head pains and even on occasion: more alertness.
While not perfectly consistent, they’ve have been enough of a change that I’ve continued to follow the diet the best I can. Is it challenging? Heck-to-the-yes! But I do my best and find confidence in this truth: I’m endeavoring to support my body the best I can.
Low Histamine Diet Tips
If you’ve done your research and feel that giving this diet a try is right for you, I have a few tips!
Outline your diet. There are many different takes on the low histamine diet. For instance, some say absolutely no nuts, others believe only certain nuts should be avoided. One will tell you to eliminate all cheese, while others allow for a couple of fresh cheeses. Choose one list to follow and stick with that for now, otherwise it becomes very overwhelming!
Have approved snacks available. If you’re like me, not having the right snacks on hand can be way too much of a temptation! I keep a mason jar of macadamia nuts near me throughout the day and it’s one of my favorite snacks. Pear or apple slices smeared with raw almond butter, carrot sticks, or sweet potato chips with homemade mango salsa are some of my other go-tos.
Keep a running list of recipes to rotate in your meal plan. Once I got a handle on what I actually could eat, it was helpful to view my diet through that lens. Instead of running through the lists of “can’ts” I studied the list of my “coulds”. I now have a small, but rotatable list of meals that are easy enough for my sick body to make while also fitting the mold of low histamine.
In closing I’ll leave you with one of my favorite recipes: low histamine mango salsa. It’s been a lifesaver for this taco-loving girl! I use it on turkey lettuce cup tacos or just scoop it up with sweet potato chips for a quick snack. It’s simple, delicious and makes me feel like I’m having a treat instead of missing out on something tasty!
And also: it feels tropical. And there is nothing wrong with tropical. ;)
I hope you enjoy it!