I’ve had several emails this week mourning the fact that some my friends can no longer eat a traditional Christmas dinner due to their mast cell issues, which in the UK is roast turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yorkshire pudding, root veg, brussel sprouts, apple sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy followed by fruit pudding and custard. I feel their loss, but luckily don’t share it, and apologise if my mates read this post and think “well, it’s alright for you!” I don’t have food allergies ‘just’ a histamine problem which is kept mostly in check by eating a low histamine diet, and although we don’t have a roast lunch on Christmas Day (as explained in an earlier blog post) I’ll be tucking in on New Year’s Day instead.
I don’t eat turkey as I’m vegetarian so will substitute a Quorn ‘chicken’ flavour roast which contains only 7 ingredients all of which I can pronounce and I know I don’t react to, though if you’re a meat eater getting a fresh turkey at Christmas really shouldn’t be a problem. I could also make my own Quorn meatloaf or use store bought organic Felafels. I can eat potatoes, so will have both roast and mashed, and love my yorkshires. I also love root veg such as parsnips, carrots and squash roasted in olive oil in the oven, but will leave out brussel sprouts for no other reason than they’re the Devil’s own vegetable ;-) Apple sauce (home-made – see the Recipe page) is fine on a low histamine diet, though I’ll steer clear of the cranberry sauce (no idea of its histamine load, but it’s bought in a jar so probably contains all sorts of preservatives). I’ll also make my own gravy (see Recipe page).
Dried fruit laden Christmas pudding is out, so we’re having a home-made sponge with a toffee sauce topping and home-made custard. Job done. Lots of desserts are fine to eat on a low histamine diet, however, see the Recipe page for inspiration.
If you usually have cheese and crackers after dessert that’s also do-able on a low histamine diet. Carr’s Table Water crackers only contain 3 ingredients (flour, salt, vegetable oil) and although you can’t top them with hard cheese you can use a nice soft one like cottage cheese or philadelphia or a cheese alternative such as Violife which is made from coconut.
To round off the meal us Brits often have a cuppa and an after dinner mint. If you can’t find any with suitable ingredients make your own peppermint creams (see the Recipe page) which can be prepared well in advance of the day.
Obviously alcohol is out on a low histamine diet, so you’re going to have to get used to being tea-total, but there are some nice soft drinks you can have over Christmas such as:
- ‘Belvoir’ Elderflower presse or cordial
- ‘Bottlegreen’ mango & coconut presse
- ‘Poms’ pomegranate juice
- ‘Eden’ carrot juice
- Apple juice or presse
- Or, of course, you can make your own freshly squeezed fruit and veg juice if you have a suitable juicer and mix it with some fizzy bottled water.
Note: some of these contain citric acid as a preservative, but a little bit over Xmas isn’t going to kill you.
We all traditionally eat crap over Christmas, and while you can’t tuck in to the Milk Tray or Bombay Mix there are snacks you can indulge in which, while not particularly nutritious, shouldn’t add to your histamine burden:
- Plain tortilla chips (check ingredients) either on their own or dipped in mango chutney or home-made salsa (see Recipe page). Gluten and dairy free.
- Home-made butter popcorn. Gluten free, and dairy free if eaten plain rather than with butter sauce.
- Home-made butter fudge (can be made in advance and frozen). Gluten free.
- Fresh nuts (if you’re OK with eating nuts) which my diet allows but other diets restrict.
My best advice is not to try anything new over the festive period. Spending hours in A&E after you’ve reacted badly to something you’ve eaten is no-one’s idea of fun. Stick to things you’ve tried or eaten before and know are safe.
I hope, whatever diet you have to follow, you can find something nice to have over the holidays. Bon appétit :-)