LYME SCI: What to eat when you’re allergic to everything?
What are you going to do, when everything your child eats makes her sick? As I’ve explained in my earlier posts about mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), virtually anything my daughter put in her mouth triggered a serious allergic reaction.
However, with the help of an incredible medical team and my daughter’s determination to succeed, we found a path to healing. I’m sharing what we did in hopes that it can help others in the same boat.
This is part four of a series on mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) triggered by Lyme and co-infections. Part one, “When the immune system goes haywire,” serves as an introduction to MCAS; Part two, “The agony of mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS),” reviews the five-step process I used to help my child begin healing from MCAS; Part three, “More about healing from mast cell activation syndrome,” outlines the essentials to finding and eliminating food triggers.
I have been writing for LymeDisease.org since 2016. This series on MCAS has generated more comments and questions than anything else I’ve written. By far, the most frequent question I’m getting is how to survive a food intolerance crisis.
Today I will share how we got my daughter past her extreme food sensitivities. Future posts will include identifying mold, environmental and cosmetic triggers, how stress affects mast cells and the immune system, and getting your life back.
Food Crisis 101
At the beginning of this MCAS journey, our routine was very stringent. Once we found the right combination of antihistamines, and she was able to go three months without an allergic reaction, we could relax a little. Believe me, I do know what it’s like to be in food crisis, so I’ve laid out a sample of some of our favorite low-histamine foods below to help others learn the process.
In my daughter’s case, the foods we chose were specific for her genetics and their high nutritional value. Her diet is also gluten-free, dairy-free, low in sugar, low-histamine, low-oxalate, and low in sulfites. Depending on your specific needs, you may not need to eliminate all of the above ingredients, or you may need to eliminate these plus others —like foods high in salicylate, a chemical found naturally in certain foods.
The key for us was to make everything from fresh, wholesome, organic ingredients. During her crisis we went with frequent small meals. Because the act of chewing and digesting requires histamine, smaller doses were less triggering. We also eliminated all leftovers, because “aged” foods are higher in bacteria and will trigger more histamine. For a complete list of low-histamine foods click here.
As things improved, I cooked two meals at a time. She’d eat one immediately, I’d refrigerate the other in a glass container (no plastics), and she’d eat the next meal within 3-5 hours. (This allowed me to get other things done.)
We also made sure each meal contained one protein, one carbohydrate and at least one fruit or vegetable. The following are a few suggestions of low-histamine foods that we rotated every three to four days during my daughter’s food crisis. Keep in mind if you are adding new foods the name of the game is low-and-slow, as I laid out in my previous post.
|Low Histamine Guidelines (adapted from SIGHI)|
|• Fermented products (e.g. alcoholic beverages, vinegar, yeast, bacteria)|
• Produce with uncertain freshness (e.g. packaged chopped lettuce, bean sprouts)
• Canned, finished or semi-finished products (e.g. canned tuna, meal kits)
• Reheated food (especially fish, meat and mushroom dishes)
|Meals from restaurants, snack bars, fast food (due to potential cross contamination of ingredients, uncertain freshness, and uncertain storage time)||• Wholesome, fresh, unprocessed or lightly processed foods.|
• The more perishable and protein-rich the food, the more important it’s freshness (e.g. fish that is caught, cleaned and flash frozen at sea, then refrigerated uninterruptedly until cooked is best)
• Leftovers must be refrigerated immediately and eaten within hours or frozen.
This is what worked for us
- Gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa or white rice with a dash of coconut milk or coconut oil
- Apple, blueberry, nectarine or peach (baked is easier for her to tolerate)
- Sautéed meat in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO*) with seasonings**
- Gluten-free brown rice noodles or quinoa noodles
- Boiled carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, or peas (I throw them in with the noodles)
- Baked pumpkin or sunflower seeds (soak 6-8 hours, rinse, bake in EVOO at 300 degrees for15-25 min., till done)
- Baked meat, coated in EVOO* and seasonings**
- Baked butternut, acorn or summer squash, sweet potato (the white one)
- Sautéed arugula, asparagus, butter lettuce, or watercress (boiled artichoke is another good option)
*I use 100% extra virgin olive oil to sauté or bake everything. If you are salicylate-intolerant, you may have trouble with EVOO. Coconut oil and nigella sativa oil (black seed oil) are also recommended.
**Seasonings: Sea salt, pink pepper, ginger, chives, garlic (small amounts), basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage (dehydrated herbs are more tolerable when in a crisis.)
Note: I am not a doctor. Food allergies are unique to each individual, so it’s important that you work closely with your doctor or a registered dietitian to find and eliminate your food triggers, then design a balanced plan that works for you.
LymeSci is written by Lonnie Marcum, a Licensed Physical Therapist and mother of a daughter with Lyme. Follow her on Twitter: @ Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org .