It started out like any ordinary morning, with the pervasive crispness of spring motivating me to make a beeline for the warmth of my shower. Reaching for my toothbrush, I looked in the mirror, and like a scene straight out of a horror movie, my entire face was swollen and disfigured. Any average person probably would have lunged for their cell phone and called for an ambulance.
Unfortunately, I knew exactly why I was swelled up like a balloon. I am a lifelong sufferer of random and debilitating allergies that have made entire periods of my life seem like a blur. When I’m sick, it’s hard to figure out the cause, and it’s even harder to predict when my crippling symptoms are going to subside.
I spent a significant part of my childhood sick from idiopathic chronic urticaria. In understandable English, that means I spontaneously break out into hives for unknown reasons. Even though my grandmother worked for a very well-known allergist, when my allergies would flare up, nothing short of outrageous amounts of corticosteroids would quell my symptoms. As a fully grown adult, here I was facing the same fate: how long would I be sick, and how would I be able to keep up with my responsibilities?
I suddenly panicked realizing that I had a TV appearance in a few hours. My livelihood greatly depends on my looks, and I definitely wasn’t going to be camera-ready anytime soon. I cancelled everything for the next few days and confined myself to my apartment.
I soon realized that this was the first time I had been seriously sick with allergies in quite a while, and I hadn’t Googled my condition in the past five years. Surely there had to be someone out there with similar symptoms that was writing about it. I strongly suspected that my on-the-run big city diet was likely to blame and was hoping to find some dietary guidance on the Internet.
A simple Google search of some of my symptoms led me to a chef’s website. A former CNN reporter in the United Kingdom named Yasmina Ykelenstam, who calls herself the “low histamine chef” had some dietary recommendations to heal inflammation. I started to follow her dietary recommendations, and at first my symptoms persisted. Finally, after three days I started feeling and looking normal. I’m now following a low histamine diet, taking copious amounts of probiotics, and feeling much better.
The power of the internet saved me from years of misery. In fact, the “low histamine chef” had to quit her career as a television journalist because of her health problems. Luckily, because of her blog and the power of my smartphone to Google every single thing I put in my mouth, I’m on the road to recovery. My low histamine diet is pretty rough, but it’s a whole lot better than being lethargic and swollen.
Food allergies are a major problem in modern life. Some say that our diet is altering the type of bacteria in our gut and causing allergies. We eat too much fat and sugar and not enough fruits and vegetables, and our bodies protest the ill treatment with allergic responses.
Modern medicine is truly miraculous, but sometimes cleaning up your diet is the answer to your health woes. If I had gone to the doctor, they probably would have just shot me up with steroids to reduce the swelling and not addressed the underlying problem. The simple reality is that my body can’t handle histamine rich food right now.
The key to diet, like anything else is balance. In times of better health, I’ve been able to eat whatever I want with few short-term consequences. Today, I’m left with little choice but to follow this stringent diet for the foreseeable future.
My health is continuing to improve, and I’m over the moon that I don’t have to suffer like I did in the past. My smartphone is the oracle for my dietary needs. If you see me fresh-faced and energetic, rest assured that I just googled what I ate for lunch before I ordered or cooked it.
For more information on a low histamine diet, click here.
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.