What to do when a low-histamine diet doesn’t make a difference

If you’ve been following me for any time, you know I am a fan of the low histamine diet for those of us who struggle with food allergies, sensitivities and other allergy kinds of symptoms.  (Want to read a bit on the low-histamine diet?  Click here.)  I find it works really well for lots of folks. 

But what if it doesn’t work well for you?  What then?

First, don’t get frustrated.  Just remember we are each unique and the causes of food sensitivities make up a lengthy list.  Don’t stop looking for answers! 

Know there are a number of other diets (I hate that word!) for you to consider, depending on your symptoms.  Remember – every choice you make for your health should go back to your story, your timeline and your symptoms for validation before blindly jumping into something new.

And that’s really important with diets.  We end up so insanely restricted in our food choices that overall nutrition becomes an issue.  Do your best to keep your plate as colorful and random as possible!

OK…here are a few other diets you might consider.  (Definitely not comprehensive!)  I have included some of the foods you would decrease if following each diet – notice the overlaps! – and know you can find more comprehensive lists online.

Low oxalate diet

Oxalate or oxalic acid is totally natural and found in some plants, nuts and seeds.  When we eat too many foods with high oxalates, they can accumulate and cause kidney stones in those predisposed to the condition.  If someone in my practice is complaining of generalized belly pain, pain with urination, or urinary urgency, we consider a low oxalate diet. 

The big warning with decreasing oxalates is to do it very slowly, e.g. decrease how many oxalate foods are in your daily diet by small increments, as a sudden decrease can cause your body to dump the crystals – pain increases, stools look sandy, and they can cause microtrauma in your body.  Go slow! 

Some foods to decrease on a low oxalate diet: spinach, kale, beets, potatoes, rhubarb, sunflower seeds.

Low lectin diet

Lectins are also naturally occurring in some plant and animal-based foods.  Research indicates excess lectins can damage the wall of the intestine (which can lead to leaky gut, overall inflammation and worsening food sensitivities) and decrease absorption of some nutrients, including iron, calcium, phosphorous and zinc.  For individuals struggling with food sensitivities, stomach or digestive issues, a low-lectin diet may be helpful. 

Some foods to decrease on a low lectin diet: nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers), wheat, quinoa, barley, sunflower seeds, lentils and soybeans.

Low nickel diet

Nickel sensitivity has been known as a relatively common cause of contact dermatitis for years.  Remember that relative who can’t wear “cheap” jewelry without breaking out?  Or they have a rash on their belly where their blue jean button rubs?  Nickel is also known to be in some foods in small quantities and can cause digestive and belly issues, or chronic urticaria or hives.  If you know you’re sensitive to metals on your skin, consider this diet first!

Some foods to decrease on a low nickel diet: banana, grapes, oats, corn, broccoli, onions, spinach, and cocoa/chocolate. 

Low salicylate diet

Salicylates are another naturally occurring plant defense.  Many of these compounds protect the plant from disease and insects.  Salicylates are interesting because they are also present in aspirin and some NSAIDs.  Individuals who are sensitive to aspirin and also experience sinus issues, sinus polyps, asthma, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hives and gut inflammation might consider restricting foods that contain this compound.

Some foods to decrease on a low salicylate diet: lentils, beans, cauliflower, strawberries and raspberries, watermelon, oat, corn and some spices.

Notice the Overlaps!

Again, if you notice the overlaps you can potentially make a big impact in how you’re feeling with fewer restrictions.  The goal is to keep your diet as varied as possible!  And, if you can find a healthcare provider who is willing to listen and partner with you on this journey, all the better!

Sixty-Second Self-Care Tip…

Most of us wander around muttering and complaining about the symptoms we experience.  In fact, sometimes those symptoms become so much a part of our identity we forget or minimize them. 

Take a few minutes today to list out ALL of your symptoms.  When you get them all on paper – all of them that you are dealing with right now – then move on to the symptoms you had in the past but which may be gone now.  Get it ALL on paper!

And just in case you have a little voice of doubt or shame or negativity pop up in your mind as you’re doing this – your symptoms are real.  Even if no one can see them and even if others have said it’s not a big deal.  That’s not for them to judge. 

All of those symptoms are part of your story and a good healthcare provider or coach should be able to listen to that story and start to put the puzzle pieces together with you. 

Have you wondered about food sensitivity testing but no one will talk to you about it because they’re “bad tests”?  Here’s a resource for you – my free guide, Food Sensitivity Testing: Which test is right for you?  Click here to request your copy and get some answers.


60-second self-care, exclusion diets, food sensitivities, histamine intolerance, low-oxalate woe

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Postcards from Me to You

Sign up to get a weekly e-postcard (aka blog post) delivered straight to your Inbox.  It'll turn Sunday into Self-Care Sunday and give you super quick, practical tips for thriving through the craziness and stress of another week!