Health Diary Week 54: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

Real Meals: Week 2 Histamine Elimination Diet

Butternut Squash Risotto

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Hi, welcome to my weekly instalment of what’s on my plate, health and nutrition updates and smile-provoking experiences.

What’s New

Firstly, apologies for the delayed post – it’s been a tough week – my second on the Swiss Interest Group strict histamine elimination diet[1] and I’ve had some last-minute socialising (safely distanced) before lockdown:

Resisting Antihistamines:

The diet advises refraining from taking my usual antihistamine or steroid spray, to accurately track progress. This was scary, as this year, I’ve developed an increasing reliance on these medications to get me through the day and sometimes even then, they didn’t prevent severe rhinitis. More recently, in desperation, I sometimes took an extra dose of the antihistamine – I know – this wasn’t good practice. So, I’m amazed I haven’t taken any of this medication for nine days (as of Sunday). But it hasn’t been an easy ride – I’ve felt constantly exhausted and I’ve had to contend with several days of severe rhinitis (I got through two boxes of tissues!). And, I’ve had itching episodes (this was new for me), a couple of times developing a rash across my chest and shoulders.

Progress:

I was thinking I should be feeling loads better by now, but I’ll keep going for the duration (another two to four weeks) and check my diary to identify any patterns. I think part of the issue could be environmental (e.g. dust, pollen). I’m also wondering if I have an issue with oat milk, as it often contains minimal histamine due to the fermentation process. But the other plant-based option, rice milk, has the same issue. Or perhaps, it’s the blueberry muffins I ate that weren’t super fresh after a day? I’ll keep an eye on how it goes.

Histamine Intolerance:

If you’d like more information on histamine intolerance and its symptoms, the Swiss Interest Group[2] and Dr Tina Peers[3] provide a helpful overview. Here’s some typical symptoms to be aware of:

  • Rhinitis: Runny nose, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, breathing difficulty
  • IBS symptoms: Bloating, wind, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, heartburn
  • Skin issues: Eczema, psoriasis, rosacea (flushed face), itching (e.g. scalp), rashes (arms, legs, trunk), severe reaction to insect bites, swollen eyelids
  • Painful joints (muscles, jaw, neck, groin), easy bruising, period pains (including when not menstruating), cystitis episodes
  • Insomnia, exhaustion (ME), migraine, dizziness, nausea, vomiting.

Appetite Reduction:

I’ve been pleased to notice a reduction in my appetite and lack of food cravings (e.g. chocolate, coffee) since last week’s rice and potato diet. I kind of feel like I’ve been reset. I kept putting larger portions on my plate and then only eating half – I’m loving this side of things at least.

Food and Nutrition

So, let’s have a look at what food was on my plate and how my diet has changed since Week 52:

Breakfast:

I had porridge oats three times, topped with either apple or blueberries, flax and chia seeds, sweet cinnamon and a maple syrup drizzle – I have to say this was delicious – why didn’t I have porridge sooner? Next time, I’m going to try making my porridge with water instead of oat milk to see what happens with my rhinitis. Apples are a renewed love too – I’ll be eating more of these. I also indulged in jams on rice cakes, which was rather tasty:

Week 54 Breakfasts

Lunch:

My first substantial meal after the rice and potato diet was butternut squash risotto (a change from my usual risotto) – it tasted amazing! My previous Typical Salad has been replaced by a new one: mixed leaves, spring onion, celery, radishes, cucumber, beetroot, chia and pumpkin seeds, mixed into sweet paprika and rapeseed oil, with a side of steamed potatoes. Rapeseed is a good choice, as it’s low in saturated fats (6.6%) and high in health-promoting polyunsaturated fats (88.6%) (Fats graph in Week 6). If I want something more filling, I can add fusilli brown rice or corn pasta. I experimented with quinoa, accompanied by asparagus and beetroot (pic in Dinner section) – it tasted okay, but needs some tweaking:

Week 54 Lunches

Dinner:

After the late lunch of butternut risotto, I only had a freshly made (thanks Mum) blueberry muffin for dinner. There was a pasta salad, the quinoa meal I mentioned above, a rather tasty pumpkin and coconut milk curry-ish (I couldn’t use all the usual spices), a large baked sweet potato (I froze half) with asparagus and white cabbage and a large baked potato (I froze half) with sweet paprika and rapeseed oil (my new ‘go-to’ dressing). I’ve noticed my meals are rather yellowy-orange these days!:

Week 54 Dinners

Snacks:

My snacking habits are completely different now – there’s no chocolate! Rice cakes are my new friend – topped with some cheeky jam. Also, crisps have been replaced by popcorn, either sweet and/or salty. I can eat Brazil, pistachios and macadamia nuts and most seeds – a good savoury ‘go-to’. I toasted seeds (in sweet paprika and rapeseed oil, of course) from my pumpkin – they were very more-ish. Mum made another batch of blueberry muffins, so I indulged in these too:

Week 54 Snacks

Drinks

I’ve changed this heading from ‘Alcohol’ to ‘Drinks’, since alcohol is not permitted on the elimination diet and I’ll only be able to drink it occasionally on a low histamine diet. And when I do, I’m better off sticking to clear spirits. I had regular sips of water that haven’t been recorded in the below table. My drink of choice was rooibos tea, but I’m concerned it’s staining my teeth when I don’t use milk and milk might be an issue. I’m also enjoying apple and cinnamon tea and I’ve introduced peppermint tea too. I’m going to have a look at what other teas I can include:

Week 54: Drinks

Food Diversity

I was concerned I may not be eating enough of a diverse diet to feed my little gut buddies (health-promoting microbiota), so I decided to check my intake and I’m pleased to report I consumed 50 different plant foods this week. The last time I checked this was Week 31 – what a different diet I had back then, containing many high histamine foods:

My 50 Challenge – Week 54’s Food Diversity

Exercise

It’s been another week of minimal activity, because I just haven’t felt up to doing much. I’m pleased that I had a couple of walks, totalling just over two hours – that will do for now:

Week 54 Exercise. My Active 10 walks. Bug hotel spotted at a train station

Weight, BMI and Fat Results

Excellent – more weight loss – 1.4 lb (0.6 kg) since last week. I gained a bit of body fat though (0.8%), but I’m not surprised given the amount of rapeseed oil I’ve been using to replace dressings and sauces. I need to try the British Dietetic Association alternative to tomato sauce[4] recipe at some point:

Week 54 Results: Weight, BMI and Body Fat

Positive Thinking: What Made Watson Smile

I’m pleased to share with you a few of the experiences that made me smile this week:

I’m Looking Sharp:

I was looking back through my photos and saw the below ones that made me chuckle. I didn’t have a positivity section at that time, so I didn’t share this with you then… Apparently, I was looking sharp in my new profile picture – check out my fruity self! I suppose kiwifruit (my hair) can taste quite sharp:

I’m looking sharp! (Sorry for the poor picture quality)

Rugby Six Nations:

I love a bit of rugby, even though I’m confused about what’s going on half the time. The Six Nations was suspended earlier this year when that virus hit. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the final matches were going ahead. My Saturday consisted of watching all three matches. England won the cup – yay!:

Rugby Six Nations (Images: from www.sixnationsrugby.com/)

Vegan Diets Webinar:

It was encouraging to attend a webinar about supporting people on vegan diets to eat healthily, without anyone trying to make it sound like it was complicated, because it doesn’t have to be. I love the infographics produced by Science and Seaweed for MyNutriWeb. There’s a really handy Vegan Eatwell Guide[5] for obtaining a well-rounded nutritious diet. If you’re interested in veganism, or eating a more plant-based diet, there’s some helpful resources by The Vegan Society[6]:

MyNutriWeb Vegan Diets: Person Centred Practice Webinar (Images: MyNutriWeb)

Mum’s Coconut Art:

We’ve been collecting empty coconut shell halves leftover from our bird feeder and wondered what to do with them. I suggested we do something artistic, like making little scenes. Mum took up the challenge and started trialling Christmas scenes – love this!:

Mum’s Coconut Christmas Scenes Art

Another Family Reunion:

Naturally, my week’s highlight was that my sister and her boyfriend decided to visit us for the day. I’m so glad they did, because later in the week it was announced that England is re-entering lockdown. We risked sitting in the conservatory as it was cold and windy outside – we usually only socialise outside. It was lovely to see them again:

Emma and Carl

I hope you enjoyed this week’s ‘What’s on Watson’s Plate’. Please feel free to follow my bite-sized updates on Instagram or Facebook. See you next Wednesday for another catch up.

>>>Week 55
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References

1. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2016. Food Compatibility List.
2. Swiss Interest Group Histamine Intolerance (SIGHI), 2019. Histamine Intolerance Outline.
3. Dr Tina Peers, Ca. 2020. Symptoms of HIT.
4. British Dietetic Association Food Allergy Specialist Group, 2018. Sensitivity to Histamine and other Vasoactive Amines.
5. The Vegan Society, 2020. Vegan Eatwell Guide.
6. The Vegan Society, 2020. Vegan and Thriving.

More from What’s on Watson’s Plate:

11 thoughts on “Health Diary Week 54: Food, Exercise and a Positive Mind

    • Thanks Majory 🙂 The diet has definitely helped loads, but there’s still another issue I think – probably environmental, but I’m working on identifying and addressing that before completing the elimination diet, so that this doesn’t get confused with the food challenges.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sorry about the lockdown again…I think we here in the USA will have to do that as well…lol… So many people here are still denying it exists! Can’t wait for the election to be over and perhaps sanity will reign again!! Your blueberry muffins look so good. I can get so addicted to them…I have to be careful. But Good Luck to you!!!!! You and your sister look so alike…not twins are you? Cheers!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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