When invited to a special event, most people’s first thought might be something like, “What should I wear?” or “What gift should I bring?”
When you have histamine or mast cell health issues, your first thought is likely along the lines of, “What am I going to eat?”, or “Am I going to have a flare of symptoms?”
Attending special events brings about concerns or feelings that your friends or family may not understand. In addition to the difficulty of planning to attend the event, you may additionally be confronted with statements like “Just eat what you want for the weekend!” or “I’m sure one weekend away from your diet will be just fine.”
While your friends or family are just expressing their desire for you to be able to enjoy yourself, they don’t understand what it feels like to have a flare in symptoms. They have good intentions, but don’t have the correct frame of reference to understand how much worse you might feel, and how that will impact your enjoyment of the celebration.
You know your own body best. Trust your gut intuition and prepare for special events in a way that makes you feel confident you will be able to enjoy the occasion in the way you’d like.
Here are some guidelines to help you prepare.
Choose the ones that will work for you.
Bring your own snacks. Have snacks like macadamia or pistachio nuts, vegetable sticks, or fresh fruit available. You can munch on these when the breadbasket comes to the table, or anytime you think you’ll need additional food.
If meals are buffet style, fill your plate mostly with low histamine vegetables (use our HH Shopping List as a guide). Meats left sitting out in a buffet will tend to have higher histamine levels, so choose small amounts or skip these if you think they’ll be problematic.
Skip the sauces and dressings. Bring your own oil instead to add moisture and flavor to dishes. You can bring handy individual packs of olive oil.
If you're able to, choose foods that are cooked a little more simply. The breading / sauces is where some of those ingredients that may trigger histamine release can be hanging out. Could you order a-la-carte?
Stay away from alcohol. There can be lot of social pressure to drink alcohol, but nobody else needs to know what you are drinking. Choose natural sparkling mineral water or add some organic cranberry or pomegranate juice to it. If you decide you want to partake in an alcoholic beverage, choose a clear unflavoured liquor like vodka which is lower in histamine than other forms of alcohol. There are histamine lowering products but we haven’t tried these, so can’t comment on their effectiveness. Please comment below to share your experience with others if you have tried any of these.
Take DAO supplements to break down histamine levels in food. In Canada we offer a 15% discount here. You'll find our recommendation once you create your free account. In the US and abroad we like Histamine Block or Histamine Digest.
Take digestive enzymes to reduce food sensitivities that can trigger histamine release from mast cells. Do not use these if you have ulcers in your stomach or intestines. We like Digestive Enzymes Ultra.
Have a Back Up Plan
You may already have an Epi-pen or other recommendations from your doctor. Make sure to pack them to have available if needed.
Talk to your doctor about histamine blockers or mast cell stabilizing medications to either prevent a flare, or to take during a flare if you haven’t had that discussion before.
Many individuals with MCAS can react to excipients and fillers used in drugs (and supplements!), so may need to have prescriptions for compounded versions of medications. Seek a compounding pharmacy to help you with this in order to reduce a potential driver of your symptoms. This can help lighten the load for your system!
Don’t Overthink It
Worry or extra stress about diet and supplements is counterproductive. That worry or stress can add to your histamine load. (We know. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.)
Instead, focus on all the friends and family you will connect with. Who are you looking forward to seeing? Why are those people important to you, and how do they bring you joy?
One of our favourite sayings (thanks to Monica Corrado!) is Bless It and Get On With It.
And listen. Most of all... have a great time!