A low-histamine diet is rarely convenient, even at the best of times. Obtaining and preparing super-fresh foods is especially tough for patients who struggle to drive, grocery shop, or just stand up. With the pandemic it’s now even harder because we’re trying to grocery shop less often, and when we do, it involves more waiting in line.
I thought grocery delivery (e.g., Instacart) or pick-up services would solve this problem, but I’ve found that when someone else is choosing my produce, I end up with wilted, limp, or over-ripe items. I can’t expect a hired shopper to sift through the produce section for the newest, freshest items, as I would normally do. I feel bad enough sending them to the grocery store in my place. So what’s a histamine-sensitive person to do?
Here are a few ideas:
- Buy frozen produce and meat. Freezing halts histamine production.
- Get groceries on days when the food is freshest. Call your local grocery store and ask for the days/times of their weekly deliveries of produce or meat. Then, also ask when these items are put out for purchase.
- Let your shopping service know that you don’t want any produce or meat that isn’t extremely fresh. For example, my local store has a place to write notes or instructions, and I’ve written “If any produce isn’t super duper fresh, then I’ll skip it this time. Thank you!” You may want to order extra items, in expectation of not receiving everything.
- Consider growing some foods. Growing sprouts in mason jars is very easy, as is growing micro greens or herbs. And if you’re up for growing your own fruits or veggies, then you’re beyond me. Way to go!
- Sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. This means you’ve bought shares in a local farm, and will receive weekly boxes of whatever foods are harvested. Do a Google search to see if there are options near you. Typically it involves picking up a box of produce once a week, at a location (hopefully) near you. Some CSA programs allow you to customize your foods while others don’t.
- Try Imperfect Foods. This great company delivers fresh foods weekly at bargain prices, because the foods have some inconsequential cosmetic (or other) issues. You can customize your box.
- Try Fruitstand.com. This company delivers produce straight from farmers.
- If you can’t get the freshest foods, then cut back on the higher-histamine indulgences (or histamine liberators) you typically allow yourself. I know, I know…a worldwide existential threat doesn’t exactly make it the ideal time to give up your beloved chocolate, but if it makes you feel better, perhaps it’s worth it.
- Reduce exposure to non-edible mast cell triggers. If you’re familiar with the “histamine bucket” theory, you know that your body should theoretically be able to tolerate histamines until your metaphorical bucket is full and overflows. Both edible and non-edible triggers contribute to the bucket, so you may be able to compensate for extra edible histamines by avoiding exposure to whatever your non-edible triggers may be.
- Replace neutral foods with natural mast cell stabilizers. For example, consider replacing butter with extra virgin olive oil.
- Eat less, if you can healthfully do so. Just the act of eating can activate mast cells, so eating less is an option for those of us who can afford to lose some weight.
- Try natural mast cell stabilizers, such as quercetin, luteolin, and rutin. Mast cell researcher Dr. Theo Theoharides’s supplement Neuroprotek combines these and is available at Algonot.com. Vitamin C is also a natural mast cell stabilizer.
Do you have other strategies for low-histamine eating during the pandemic? I’d love to hear them. Stay safe out there!