S.A.D.

I had the TV on in the background for company yesterday, when my ears pricked up as Paul O’Grady interviewed Ella, from the website ‘Deliciously Ella’, who apparently now has a cook book for sale.  I’d come across Ella’s site before as she suffered from POTS, but had to dismiss the majority of her recipes as they weren’t low histamine friendly.  Hoping things might have changed, I checked it out today and read the ‘About’ section which states the following:

“Overnight I took up a whole foods, plant-based diet and gave up all meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, anything processed and all chemicals and additives, which was a pretty drastic change. I literally never ate fruit or vegetables before, my diet instead revolved around Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Chocolate, peanut butter and jelly eaten with a spoon, pick-n-mix and lots of cereal and pasta…..”

I find this a lot – people who were eating appalling diets, then overnight swap to some radical Paleo or plant based diet then announce to the world that it’s cured them of every ill from acne to seizures, when maybe just eating like a normal human being would have achieved the same thing.

Have you noticed that all the ‘healthy diet’ blogs are written by Westerners all of whom assume we are eating a Standard American Diet (is there a Standard British Diet?!).  It’s just so arrogant – the entire world doesn’t live on pizza and coke or eat Cocoa Pops for breakfast.  My blog has been visited by people from 188 countries, most of whom are interested in a low histamine diet (I assume because they’re having histamine-related symptoms).  I’ve had 12 visitors from the Senegal, where my parents sponsor a child.  She lives on a diet of goat meat and milk, yams and flat bread – not a McDonalds or dairy farm in sight.  And I’m fairly sure my visitors from Greenland, China, Nepal and Iran all eat totally differently to each other and none  of their food could be classed as “convenient” or “processed” – yet they’re obviously still having histamine problems.

Just to get side-tracked for a minute, I don’t even know what a “plant based” diet is.  Is wheat not a plant?  Do you not put a seed in the ground, water it, fertilize it, and out pops a plant whose seeds we eat?  Just like you’d do with a courgette plant or a tomato plant?  Yet wheat is always excluded from plant based diets.

Anyway, I digress.

When my mast cell disease finally exploded in 2013 I was eating a diet which went something like this:
Breakfast: bowl of sliced banana, 4 strawberries, handful of grapes, ¼ canteloupe melon and a handful of cashew nuts, or a smoothie made with fresh fruit, crushed omega seeds and organic probiotic yoghurt.
Lunch: tuna and cucumber, or egg salad, on a wholemeal roll, packet of crisps, glass of organic apple or orange juice with no added sugar.
Dinner:  home-made roasted vegetables with pesto, pasta and parmesan, or fresh salmon fillet with couscous and vegetable casserole.  Pint glass of freshly squeezed mixed fruit and green vegetable juice.
and in between all I drank was bottled mineral water or tea (no sugar).  My one vice for the day was either 3 biscuits or a few squares of chocolate – I’m unable to exercise and if I’d lived on Ben & Jerrys for the past 21 years you’d need a crane to lift me.  I’ve been pesco-vegetarian for over 25 years now, and have eaten as organically as possible since I developed M.E. in 1994.

As it turns out, much of the food I was eating (hard cheese, tomatoes, orange juice, strawberries, fish) are high in histamine, which for someone with a growing mast cell problem wasn’t a good idea, but my diet per se was well balanced, clean and nutritious.

The other thing assumed by these ‘healthy diet’ people is that your home is chock full of chemicals.  Make-up, toiletries, perfumes, deodorants, bleach, sprays, air freshners…..the list goes on.  Only, mine isn’t.  I’ve never done the cleanse, tone and moisturize thing on my face – it gets a lick of Simple unperfumed soap on the days I have to go out but other than that it doesn’t even get washed – the same goes for the rest of me. And because I barely leave the house, the only make-up I ever wear is some concealer to cover up my eye circles,  a slick of mascara and some tinted lip balm on the days I need to go shopping.  I absolutely can’t remember the last time I wore nail polish – there’s really not much call for bright red talons when you live amongst farmers in the middle of nowhere – and due to my false hair I don’t use hair dye, gel or hairspray.  So as it turns out, the only chemicals are in my antiperspirant, which I use because I only bathe every 4 days and without it my armpits smell like a month old cheese board.

My cleaner (who comes once a fortnight) doesn’t use polish, she damp dusts, and washes my bath and sinks with Eco washing-up liquid.  If I do a smelly poo I open the bathroom window rather than squirting air freshner.  I admit to using bleach down the toilet every now and again, because nothing else gets rid of the smelly poop stains, use non-bio liquid to wash my clothes (but no fabric softner) and I do use dishwasher powder to clean my pots.  But all in all I use the least chemicals to keep my home going as is humanly possible.  In my previous house, even the paint on the walls was chemical-free.

As far as drugs go, I became allergic to alcohol in 1994 and it was downhill from then on.  Until I started my daily H1 antihistamine in 2014 I hadn’t been on any drugs for 8 years and hadn’t taken hormones, eg the contraceptive pill, since 1997.

Despite my clean life, lack of drugs, sparse use of chemicals and fresh organic diet rich in fruit and veg my Ehlers-Danlos and mast cell disease still exploded and I still have M.E.  I wasn’t eating a Standard American Diet or living an unhealthy lifestyle and I’m sure many of the 350,000 visitors to my blog from around the globe aren’t either.  Yet we’re still sick.  This would be why I’m so cynical about ‘healthy’ diets curing all ills – it’s because they don’t.

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4 thoughts on “S.A.D.

  1. Glo

    Thank you for that. I live in the states and was eating a diet similar to yours although I am a sugar addict. However I have not been in a mcdonalds or anything similar for years. When I’d eat out I’d always feel sick afterwards even though it was all healthy foods. Trying to do the low histamine diet is hard but I do notice a difference when I eat certain foods or overindulge in sugar especially. Haven’t used bleach in years and had to ban it at work which was quite an ordeal. It shuts my lungs right down. I work with a woman who is sweet as can be but it’s so hard trying to explain why we can’t use certain cleaners(because they set my asthma going) and why I can’t eat the food she brings in. She tries but will now bring me little fruit cups of fruits I can’t eat that are swimming in syrupy goo and preservatives. When I think about it she eats the typical American diet. This after her husband had a major heart attack. Processed foods and high fat contents etc. then at the other end of the spectrum is the person telling me I’m eating the paleo diet. No! I’m just trying to eat the low histamine diet which no one understands. I don’t even try to explain anymore I just say I’m on a restricted diet. When people bring me food I say thank you and then give it away. Wish I could just take a pill for this. I went on an eating badly binge this weekend and am now paying for it. And it was all healthy foods. Just bad for me. Sorry this is rambling it’s six in the morning and with that and the dietary repercussions I’m a bit incoherent.

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  2. Robin

    I’m wondering if we should tell people, “I didn’t turn against my body (through a particular diet), my body turned against me.” There’s a difference. Like many here, I ate mostly healthy foods – those which boast greatest impact – spinach, tomatoes, salmon, yogurt, low fat cheese, fruit, and so on. I rarely ate beef or pork, avoided sodas, and fried foods were pretty much non-existent unless dining out. I believed I was doing my part to nurture a healthy body. Imagine my surprise to learn my healthy favorites were the cause for lesions and an uncontrollable itch.

    My neighbor, well meaning, prayed for me – her answer to my problem. I’m guessing she missed the word, “incurable”. What’s a patient to do? This is all new to me so I just do the best I can as I learn to address the needs of my body. So what about each new diet or fad that comes down the pike? Each will eventually lose its shine and fade into the background. No matter what, I’ll still be here with my masto.

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  3. Teri Scherzinger

    A lot of people ask me if I eat healthy, like it’s the source of all my ills. I admit I could eat healthier, but I do eat sensibly. I have bad reactions to alcohol, too much dairy & msg (triggered my first migraine). Other than that I’m ok in the food department (knock on wood). I do notice I have a big craving for protein. Mostly eat protein & veggies with a little starch to feel full. Also a soda and latte each day to keep me happy (soul food??)

    I recently read about a doctor & nutritionist that says she cured her ME with a ketogenic diet. She said it was 80% good fat. I notice I do feel better if I have a greasy breakfast, because I always feel hung over when I wake up. I know not heart healthy, but sure makes my brain better!

    I think a healthy diet is best for everyone, but not a cure for chronic illness.

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  4. Kathy

    When I was first “diagnosed” with MCAD I was told to eat a low histamine diet, plus avoid anything I know I’m allergic to. Plus, since I have Celiac, I needed to avoid wheat and its evil siblings barley and rye. There was little I could safely eat during this highly reactive period. I was down to fresh mozzarella, broccoli, rice chex, chamomile tea. Once a week I would scramble an egg, or have a bit of chicken. People who didn’t get it assumed I was eating a highly nutritious diet. Right.

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