So, the other day I wrote a post on Histamine Intolerance and what it is, and what it isn’t. So to continue the discussion. What foods can you eat and what can’t you have when you have HIT? It all depends. Other than foods I’m actually allergic to, this condition has limited a lot of my diet. For one thing, a lot of the low carb eating I was on pretty much had to go out the window. I can’t eat any meat that isn’t fresh. I can’t pre-cook foods and just grab a bite. I can’t have my soy mousse anymore. I can’t have tomatoes, which were a standby for me.
There are numerous lists out there of histamine-laden foods, and some of them contradict. One of the most accurate that I’ve found though is the one put out by one of the leading experts on the subject, Dr. Janice Joneja. I highly recommend her books on food allergies and intolerances. But really, there is a core list that almost everyone agrees on that must be avoided. And then a number of others that—as I said last time—will bother some HIT patients, but not others. I seem to be at that low point where almost everything on the lists hits me hard, and I’m still learning—usually the hard way.
First, you need to know that some foods are naturally high in histamine. Others are called ‘histamine liberators’ because they stimulate the production of histamine in the body. Either way, they’re problems. Also, the minute you cook food, it starts building in histamine. So you can’t have leftovers and you shouldn’t let the food sit before eating it. Annnnd…slow cooking anything increases the histamine levels in exorbitant levels—which means I ended up giving away my slow cooker and buying a pressure cooker instead. No canned foods, no processed meats, no nightshades, no aged or fermented anything, so many many no’s.
So what can I eat? Between my food allergies, intolerances, and now the HIT, here’s my list:
Meats: chicken breast, beef (as fresh as possible, no “aged” beef), turkey breast (fresh, not processed), lamb. Game meats are more problematic. I have to severely limit the dark meat of poultry and skin. I’ve started grinding my own lamb and going to my own beef for the most part because ground meat is usually a lot higher histamine, regardless of the type, and also harder to pinpoint the age.
Vegetables: Cucumbers, squash (all kinds—winter and summer), broccolini, chard (both red and rainbow), carrots, lettuce, corn (organic only), artichokes, asparagus, beets, sweet potatoes. All of these need to be fresh—not canned. If they were flash frozen, they’re usually fine.
Fruits: Apples, pears, peaches, frozen black berries, melon, apricots, cherries.
Grains: Rice, corn (organic), tapioca, corn (organic), oats (gluten free), rice protein powder
Herbs: Parsley, oregano, sage, marjoram, bay.
Misc: Salt, water, blackberry tea, rice milk, coconut, coconut milk, coconut sugar, honey, stevia, maple syrup, safflower oil, coconut oil, palm oil.
You’ll notice…coffee is not on the list. I just found the research that yes, coffee is high histamine, and caffeine is a histamine liberator. Which means I’m cutting down. I’m down to three shots a day and may sadly have to give up my lattes because they are inflaming my body and harming me, and probably contributing to my reactions. Decaf is not an option, given the coffee beans themselves are high histamine, even without the caffeine.
I’ve had to let go of a number of foods I loved: cinnamon, tomatoes, chocolate, shellfish, fish, nuts…all of them were causing reactions. I’m still learning to manage things. I’ve had to make a number of changes as this has progressed.
For one thing, I have to cook most meat either fresh or from an almost frozen state. Every meal has to be made fresh—so I’m having to cook a lot more. I’m learning to cook in smaller amounts, because no more leftovers. If I make a big soup, I get one meal of it—and Sam would have to eat the rest. If I make a meatloaf, I get whatever I’m hungry for at dinner, and that’s it. I can’t have a number of foods that helped keep me low carb, so I’ve had to raise my carb level to some extent. I’m now having to wean myself off coffee.
I am on a few necessary supplements: L-glutamine powder, Histabloc, Vitamin C/D/B.
So, sample menus? I admit, I’m still dealing with figuring them out. I get hunger headaches without enough protein.
Rice protein smoothie: Rice protein, frozen peaches, coconut milk, honey, L-glutamine powder
Chicken stir fry: chicken breast, zucchini, Swiss chard, shredded carrots
Today, I made a really good soup for lunch. Including the recipe here:
Butternut Squash Soup
1 cup butternut squash (freshly cooked soft)
2 cups rice milk
1 granny smith apple
3 stalks celery
4 ribs Swiss chard (keep the leaves for something else)
1 lb. lamb (grind in food processor or meat grinder)
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt
Heat oil in pan, begin browning lamb. Add diced chard, celery, and apple, parsley and salt. Saute till meat is cooked and veggies are soft. Stir in puree of squash, then rice milk. Heat through.
So, foods are one of the bigger issues with HIT. But that’s only one face of the syndrome. Exercise, sex, even hot showers, can all trigger issues. Which…I will continue in Part 3 next time.