Friday, January 24, 2014

Riding the histamine roller coaster

I'm now seven weeks post-partum. Since my last post, I've continued my low-histamine eating approach, even taking it up a notch (thanks to The Low Histamine Chef). In that time (about two weeks), I've been riding the histamine (and corresponding emotional) roller coaster. I thought I was on the road to healing about a week ago, only for my hand to take another turn on me. My theory in that case - you see, it's constant analysis - was that canned coconut milk I'd been adding to my morning smoothie was the culprit.

In any case, here's a quick summary of what I'm doing to combat the histamine with a few observations, followed by a snapshot of my current diet...

  • I've added a bunch of anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory foods into my diet, such as garlic*, onion, ginger**, fresh herbs, and spirulina.
  • I've reduced my intake of meat (a bit, I'm only so strong).
  • I've cut out coffee (was having up to one cup).
  • On my husband's suggestion, I'm taking one diamine oxidase supplement with breakfast and another with dinner. This is a temporary measure to help boost me out of this symptom-filled, post-natal stage.
  • I've been using two main products on my skin - pure emu oil (Wax!t) and bum balm (Bare Organics). I like both of these products for soothing and moisturizing, plus they're both Canadian companies. For what it's worth, my skin seems to drink up the emu oil faster.
  • I'm trying with all my might not to pick at my skin, especially during this current stage where it can be very flaky if I haven't applied one of the above within at least an hour or so.
  • I've been entertaining some non-paleo foods to my diet, including white potatoes, white rice, peanut butter, and I even picked up some plain oatmeal earlier this week. I've done this for a few reasons: 
    • I feel like there's not much I can eat right now, so this is a bit of a consolation.
    • These foods don't appear to bother me in any way.
    • It's my diet and I can add if I want to (*to be read in the tune of "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To"*)
This regime seems to be helping and the eczema seems to be retreating slowly. The tough part is accepting the two steps forward, one step back nature.

*Holy moses, I love garlic. If I'm to be truthful here, I've really just been too lazy to use it in earnest. I admit to having those little jars of pre-minced garlic abandoned in the back of my fridge in the past. But wow, garlic adds delicious flavour to pretty much any meal - I now find myself making self-flattering eating noises throughout dinner (mmm-mmmm).

**Ginger was a favourite of my grandmother and will always remind me of her :-) 

So here's what my diet looks like these past several weeks...

I've been on a smoothie kick of late, possibly because I picked up some plant-based protein powder at Costco recently and I like it. The smoothie has evolved a bit over time, leaning more on the greens and ultimately eliminating the fruit (started with 1/2 banana and a few blueberries). I also, as referenced above, stopped the coconut milk. It currently includes:
Mmm, delicious green sludge.
  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Chia seeds
  • Spirulina
  • Almond or peanut butter
  • Lots of frozen kale
  • Protein powder (about half a scoop of this stuff:

I've been loading up on greens (excluding spinach, of course). Inspired - once again - by my mom, I've given salads another chance. You see, I love condiments. And I love salad dressings. So it's with a certain sadness that I resort to salad greens + onion + olive oil + S&P. With a few freshly hard boiled eggs and butter. I'm actually growing to acquire the taste (it's amazing what eliminating sugar and the like will do for the taste buds).

If I'm out of fresh greens or eggs or just want something else, I'll nuke a frozen leftover dinner meal (see next). I often have an organic gala apple for dessert, sometimes with almond or peanut butter (mmmm).

Standard lunch fare.
I have to say, with the introduction of garlic, my dinners are getting better and better. Not more complicated, mind you, but more delicious. Below isn't the best dinner pic, but I'm usually too hungry and tempted by my dinner plate to think about blog pics. (Keeping in mind that's also any household's crazy time). Anyhow, dinner is generally meat + veggies + tuber. Pretty basic, but tasty stuff. Our dinner veggies of choice lately include parsnip fries (included below), roasted broccoli, green beans, peas, and sweet potato.
Note the bok choy - a recent and most delicious addition. The gunk on the steak is extra garlic and ginger from the bok choy side.

With all this said, here are a few recent pics of my hand. The photos are in chronological order, the first pic having been taken around Christmas Day if I'm not mistaken, and the others at various points since. (Apologies in advance for the poor quality and inconsistency in photo taking.)

It started with just a wee bit around the middle finger nail and some hive-like red spots.

Starting to spread over a couple knuckles and in between fingers, but still reasonably manageable.

More redness and the creeping across the hand increases.

Now between all fingers, with the index finger taking more of the brunt.

Ouch. More redness, more creeping.

Doesn't look so bad here - but it depends on lighting, time of day, if there's anything on it. Likely one of my delusional "I think it's getting better" moments.

Quite dry. The winter, cold, warm, constantly tending to baby-ness  tends to aggravate.

Hmmm, maybe not getting better so much.

After going for errands yesterday and at my wits end. So many irritants in a simple outing for groceries - cold, warm (i.e. increased body temp while inside store w/jacket), jacket sleeve, glove, etc. Quite sore, raw feeling.

See something in this post that could be aggravating my skin? Let me know via comments.


  1. Chia seed is a grain. Enjoy your posts

  2. I also have been on a modified pale diet for some time and was experiencing some FODMAPS issues as well as developing what the believe is Meniere's disease. I decided to do the ALCAT testing and I was actually reactive to some of these antihistamine foods such as spirulina,chlorella and onions and quite a few herbs (the list was far more extensive than I imagined!) My ENT is also going to do the food scratch type test as some doctors don't like the IGG blood tests like ALCAT. Have you tried any of these tests to eliminate problem/trigger foods? I have been feeling better but am not happy about how limited my food selection has become so I too am adding in some Non-Paleo items to make up for it. Hopefully, I will be able to enjoy my cocoa and peanuts again when the six months are up!

  3. Interesting, Laura. I feel for you on the FODMAPs front - such great veggies! I have had a blood allergy test administered by a naturopathic doctor and the only food that came back as even moderately an issue was almonds. At the time, however, I was eating a lot of almonds (milk, butter, handful, etc.) I've always wondered if that was a factor. The limited selection of food can be ever so frustrating - especially if you're not 100% certain if certain foods are - or aren't - problematic.

    Keep us posted - I also hope you can get back your cocoa and peanuts!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experimentation on this matter. My son has severe eczema (he's now 6) and we've been paleo for the last 3 or so years now (other than white rice occasionally). He has a lot of food allergies so nuts and eggs are already off the table. I feel so limited on what I can give him but it is strange to me that his skin even with all of these restrictions still isn't clearing up. I'll try to take the time later to read through your posts but would love to pick your brain on what you have found out works. Also, was your eczema adult on-set/paleo on set? Have you had it before this? Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

    1. Hi Grace - Sorry for my delayed response. I drafted a response on my iPad only to have it force quit on me and had forgotten it didn't post. I'm also really sorry to hear about your son - I imagine it's even harder witness your child go through this. I, too, am currently in a bit of a holding pattern, in that I'm mostly healed (that may be an overstatement), but still can't get the last of it gone. I figure there must be something(s) still in my diet that I haven't found yet. My current suspicion is broccoli.

      I've added a "My Story" page to this site with more background on my situation:

      Good luck!