For over 20 years I was the guinea pig of 68 overzealous doctors who attempted to convince me I suffered from: recurrent sinusitis that required surgery, multiple sclerosis, lupus, hepatitis, lyme disease, kidney failure, liver failure, leukemia, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, chronic urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, diabetes 1 & 2, STIs, pelvic inflammatory disease, brain tumor, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, unipolar depression and borderline personality disorder. The emergency room became my second home: multiple anaphylactic and heart attack like symptoms, two operations (one of which proved completely unnecessary). I was told I needed another six, which I refused. I grew more alarmed with each negative result, believing for many years that I was in fact dying.
Initially diagnosed with histamine intolerance (HIT) in 2010, I've just recently (in March 2013) been diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Disorder by Dr Matita (under Dr Luis Escribano) in Toledo, Spain. This isn't a progression of my condition, but rather a clarification, as I'm certain that's what I've had all along. I have the anaphylactic episodes to prove it.
But rather than take the often prescribed antihistamines and mast cell stabilisers, the fridge and fields are my medicine cabinet. Having taken antihistamines for most of my adult life, in 2012 I finally took charge of my diet and was able to achieve my life long dream of withdrawing from all pharmaceutical medications including: anti-histamines, anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, migraine, nausea, and dizziness meds. In just a short time I've detoxed my diet, beauty routine and most importantly, my attitude and am now the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I’ve learned to harness the positives that high histamine bestows (appetite suppression, higher metabolism, energy) and make them work for me! My compulsion to travel hasn’t abated in the slightest since my initial diagnosis in 2010. In that time I’ve traveled to West Africa, North Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe. The low histamine recipes here reflect my nomadic adventures: a wedding in the south of France for the Socca dishes, my Beirut hop in the Hummus/Falafel and Yeast Free Flatbread recipes, Egypt in the Shakshuka and Bangkok in the Coconut Banana Pie and Bounty Bars.
Who the hell am I to give dietary advice? My cookbooks reflect the incredible amount of research into histamine and other biogenic amines in food that I’ve obsessively collected since my initial diagnosis in 2010. As a former journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC, I know how important the facts are. Not only do I back up each claim on my site with numerous studies, I’ve even used myself as a guinea pig, taking myself from washed up medical mystery to successful 21st century businesswoman.
Think I sound a little chipper for someone who's spent most of her life convinced she's dying of an undiagnosed disease? Yes, call me warrior. I've spent the last 20 years fighting doctors for diagnosis, working more than a full time job while my body fell apart on me. Today I feel empowered; I’m no longer at the mercy of the dreaded histamine hangover. I’ve managed to harness these new lifestyle changes and channel them into a better, stronger, healthier version of me. I KNOW you can do it too. Here's the recipes that helped me get here.