This blog covers my personal journey with mast cell disease and histamine intolerance. I’m not advocating that you should follow the diet I follow, or that my diet is perfectly low histamine. I tried a basic low histamine diet, based on information from the International Chronic Urticaria Society and written by histamine researcher Dr Janice Joneja because I was having anaphylactic reactions every time I ate. Only 4 months into the diet these reactions no longer happened. This particular version of a low histamine diet worked for me – it may not be right for you.
There are several low histamine diet lists available online which all differ from one another. Alison Vickery lists the main ones on her website, so it’s an individual choice as to which one you want to follow (see this post for my thoughts on the various lists). There is virtually no evidence on the histamine content of food, so most of the lists are based on nothing but supposition – see my page on Histamine in Food: the Evidence. However, we all have to start somewhere and having a list makes this easier. I no longer stick faithfully to Dr Joneja’s list and am still managing my symptoms (there is no cure for my diseases). The foods we react to are individual to us so the best thing to do is start off strictly, then gradually re-introduce foods one at a time and see how you go. I wish it were easier, but that’s the reality.
Dr Joneja’s diet excludes all:
- foods with naturally high levels of histamine
- fermented food
- artificial food colouring, especially tartrazine
- benzoates including food sources of benzoates, benzoic acid and sodium benzoate
- butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydoxytoluene (BHT)
Items marked with an * are considered controversial and excluded, or included, by other versions of a low histamine diet.
THE LOW HISTAMINE FOOD LIST
Milk & Dairy
- Plain milk
- Ricotta cheese
- Mascarpone cheese
- Mozarella cheese
- Ice cream with allowed ingredients.
- All other cheese, particularly hard mature cheese like mature Cheddar, or aged cheese like Stilton
- Cottage cheese
- Quark (similar to cottage cheese though thinner and made without rennet so always vegetarian friendly).
- Soured cream
- All pre-prepared dairy products made with restricted ingredients.
- All plain, cooked egg.
- Raw egg white (found in some eggnog, hollandaise sauce and milkshakes).
Breads & Cereals
- Any pure, unbleached grain or flour (note: all flour in the UK is unbleached by law).
- Any plain, fresh bread, buns, biscuits, pizza dough with allowed ingredients.
- Home-made or purchased baked cookies, pies etc. made with allowed ingredients.
- Breakfast cereals made with allowed foods including all plain grains, plain oats and oatmeal, plain cream of wheat, puffed rice and wheat.
- Plain crackers with allowed ingredients.
- Plain pasta.
Products made with:
- Artificial colours
- Artificial flavours
- Bleached flour (not available in the UK)
- Restricted fruits
- Some jams (known as jelly in the States)
- Any food made with, or cooked in, oils with hydrolyzed lecithin, BHA or BHT.
- Commercial pie, pastry and fillings.
- Baking mixes
- Dry dessert mixes
- Pre-packaged rice and pasta ready meals.
- All pure, fresh and frozen vegetables except those listed in the restricted group.
- Aubergiene (also known as Eggplant)
- Tomatoes and all tomato products including puree and passata.
- Soy and all soy products, including soya lecithin.
- Cantaloupe melon
- Honeydew melon
- Water melon
- *Papaya (pawpaw)
- Fruit dishes made with allowed ingredients.
- Raisins, currants & sultanas
Meat, Fish & Poultry
- All pure, freshly cooked meat or poultry.
Any freshly caught, gutted, and cooked fish within 30 minutes of being caught (which realistically means no fish, unless you are a fisherman’s wife!)
- All leftover cooked meats.
- All processed meats, eg salami, hot dogs.
- All fish (except those on the allowed list) and seafood.
- All plain legumes, except those on the restricted list.
- *Pure peanut butter.
- Soy beans, including miso and tofu.
- Kidney beans (also known as red beans)
Nuts & Seeds
- All plain nuts.
- *This diet allows all seeds apart from pumpkin, while other diets also restrict sunflower seeds.
- *This diet does not restrict nuts of any kind, but other diets restrict cashew nuts, whilst yet other diets restrict nuts of all varieties.
- Pumpkin seeds.
Fats & Oils
- Pure vegetable oil.
- Home-made salad dressings with allowed ingredients.
- Lard & meat drippings.
- Home-made gravies.
- All fats & oils with colour and/or preservatives.
- Hydroloyzed lecithin.
- Pre-prepared salad dressings with restricted ingredients.
- Pre-prepared gravies.
Spices & Herbs
- All fresh, frozen or dried herbs and spices except those on the restricted list.
- Curry powder
- Seasoning packets with restricted ingredients.
- Foods labelled “with spices”.
- Maple syrup
- Corn syrup
- Icing sugar
- Pure jams, marmalades, conserves made with allowed ingredients.
- Plain artificial sweeteners.
- Home-made sweets made with allowed ingredients.
- Flavoured syrups.
- Prepared dessert fillings.
- Prepared icings, frostings.
- Spreads with restricted ingredients.
- Cake decorations.
- Commercial sweets (candies).
- Baking powder.
- Baking soda.
- Cream of tartar.
- Plain gelatin.
- Home-made relishes with allowed ingredients.
- Yeast and all yeast products including marmite, vegemite & bovril.
- All chocolate and cocoa.
- Flavoured gelatin (ie jelly/jello).
- Prepared relishes and olives.
- Vinegar and anything pickled in vinegar.
- Most commercial salad dressings.
- *Quorn is restricted on some lists (I assume because it’s so commercially prepared) but other lists don’t mention it at all. I eat some Quorn (like the mince, as it only has 4 ingredients) but not other Quorn products (like the burgers or sausages) because they contain many artificial ingredients some of which, like yeast, are restricted.
- Plain milk.
- Pure juices of allowed fruits and vegetables.
- Plain and carbonated mineral water.
- Alcohol: plain *vodka, *gin, *white rum.
- Flavoured milks.
- Fruit juices and cocktails made with restricted ingredients.
- All other carbonated drinks.
- All teas.
- All drinks with “flavour” or “spices”.
- All alcohol unless on the allowed list, including beer, cider, wine.
- Non-alcoholic beer and wines.
Tags: low histamine diet, low histamine foods