Histamines....we all have them naturally. They are neurotransmitter alarms that our body gives off to tell us it doesn't like something (allergic reactions). Some have very severe reactions, known as IgE reactions which result in anaphylaxis other reactions, known as IgG reactions will come out as hives, eczema and other skin conditions. But then there are some reactions that are only give off slight reactions, of activate other reactions - kind of like a domino-effect of sorts, these are called histamine liberators. These liberators are very sensitive to stress, hormones and other factors, like the freshness of food.
I have of late, (3 years or so), have been struggling with my weight. I eat whole foods and regularly exercise, and though my body has changed, no where near the amount I thought it would. I have gained and lost muscle, but that darn number on the scale is the same! What was more alarming to me was the inflammation in my system, the constant bloating and feeling puffy. Talking with my Naturopathic Doctor, we decided to start an anti-histamine diet protocol to take real control of all of symptoms. I knew it was going to be difficult, but damn! It's crazy. More difficult than a Candida protocol, more annoying than an anti-inflammatory diet...this one takes the cake! But it's Day 3 and I am feeling better and boy can I tell all the things that I am sensitive to!
So here's how the diet works. For the first ten days, I am to take an anti-histamine pill and avoid at all costs an array of foods that are histamine liberators. See the list here. It consists of many of the popular allergy foods: soy, corn, gluten, and dairy; but also includes liberators like: spinach, coffee, cinnamon, spicy spices, oranges, strawberries and bananas - just to name a few. I never thought I was highly reactive to any foods specifically, but this gave me very clear indications of what I reacted to.
After a month of being on this diet, this is what I have learned.
I have control.
I think from a young age, rules are instilled in our learning. It becomes how we listen, interact and teach others. But somewhere along the years we start to bend these rules and it becomes an intimate game of control. We lose control when emotions are running high: grief, anger, happiness...these very innate behaviours take control of everything we do; we over indulge in eating, drinking and in play. But I do have control. When small rules are set in place for my health, I do have control. I can say no to the candy in the middle of the day. I can live without my daily coffee without crashing. I can eat out and pick the good things on the menu.
I have more sensitivities that I thought.
This blew my mind. Normal foods that I was eating on a daily basis were causing allergy-like symptoms inside my body. I now know that I am reactive to the following: raw potato and red pepper, the cold (yes, this is a thing), coffee (?). What this does is look like? I sneeze uncontrollably around these items when around them. All I need to do is cut the food and I start sneezing...(and that's not the most attractive thing when you are a personal chef). I sneeze when I'm cold...but when it's a drastic temperature change, like when I first get up or if the ac goes on at work. With coffee, I get really puffy behind the eyes. This was all very insightful and I am sure there are more, but these were the very apparent ones.
Focus on the foods you can eat and not the ones you can't.
This goes for any diet protocol that you may be following: no gluten, sugar, fruits, processed foods...the list of no's is endless. So why not focus on the things you can eat and make delicious meals you and your family will enjoy? This diet was one of the most difficult journeys I have been on. More difficult than cutting out gluten, more strict than any candida protocol, even more strict than SIBO and IBD guidelines. But I still managed to make wonderfully delicious meals, like this ground turkey stir fry and this chicken stew. I have to admit that I am missing some fruits, (even though it's October), and did I mention no coffee?
Sometimes a cheat is okay...
...and sometimes it's not. If you have a very serious disorder like celiac, cheating is not okay. But you have to know when you can test your limits and see how you react to things. For instance, my girlfriend who is also doing this with me, tried a piece of brie, (I wish) and immediately broke out in a hive. The body is a wondrous thing and will tell you the things it likes and doesn't like. You just need to be aware.
This was a great learning experience. It was interesting taking foods out and learning to deal with foods that I could eat and the ones that I couldn't. What I learned is even some healthy foods aren't good for me. But it is all about being aware to my body and see what it is telling me.
I have a pretty good breakfast of overnight oats with blueberries and rice milk, for lunch spaghetti squash, and some roasted vegetables and for dinner, this: <insert pic>
Pan seared broccoli and carrots with bison meatloaf. Yes, that is spinach you see, but I made it before I start this crazy diet...and well, I have to eat it!
Day of cooking for someone else that doesn't have this diet! :( But I ended up making this wonderful turkey stew that is just delightful! Paleo in nature, filled with organic ground turkey and tons of vegetables. Thanks for the recipe from Arsy Vartarian I had some meals for the next few days and they were delicious!
Day3: I decided that I'm having a love affair with coffee and I need to end it. No coffee on this protocol...no caffeine whatsoever, really.
Day 7: I need sugar!!!!!! That's the candida dying off. if you don't know what candida is, it's a yeast-like bacteria in your body that can cause many symptoms like skin rashes, inflammation and it loves sugar. Raisins are my answer....raisins are my saviour!
Day 10: I cheated. Okay! There I said it! It's so hard! A girlfriend was in town for a few days and we went out. And I just couldn't say no to some wine-time....so then I decided to fully blow my progress and go out for dinner as well. I don't feel horrible...but I don't feel good either.
Day 18: I feel great! My stomach is flatter and even though the needle hasn't really moved on the scale, I feel amazing and my clothes are still loose.
Day 30: I am so glad this is done!!!! I know that I am sensitive to the following things: soy, eggs, peppers, mushrooms, potatoes and raw fish...so what am I to do? Top eating all of these things? No, but maybe not eat them as often. Have sushi once a month, but once, (or twice) a week. But I am happy this is over...it was a tough one, but one that I will be trying again!