The toughest thing about having a histamine intolerance is figuring out that you have it. It’s not something you can easily test for like a standard food allergy, and very few doctors in Canada have even heard of it.

For years I’d been struggling to lose those last 10 lbs, despite strict adherence to a vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, low-fat diet. I’ve since discovered that most of that extra weight was water retention, which often happens when we ingest something we’re intolerant to.

In 2016 I started to notice that strawberries didn’t agree with me anymore, in the form of bloating and rosacea. Then tomatoes started giving me the same symptoms. I avoided both for a while, not understanding the histamine link between them.

In the spring of 2017 I started feeling very tired and run down, so I decided to make a habit of having a big salad before lunch and another before dinner. Each salad was topped with vinegar-based dressing, which I now know is extremely high in histamine, but at the time I was baffled as to why I was gaining even more weight on what had to be fewer calories. I was also experiencing dizziness and vertigo when I exercised, and for the past few years I’ve had one cavity after another despite avoiding sugar completely. As it turns out, acid reflux is another symptom of histamine intolerance.

I was at my wit’s end and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was wrong. I turned to my Christian faith for answers, praying repeatedly for God to tell me what to do. If only I had a list of foods to avoid, I said, I would follow it strictly. Whatever it took to get well, I was determined to do it. Not long after that, my prayers were answered. “It’s the histamine,” I was told. Hista-what? I’d never heard of it before, so I googled it and read everything I could find. All the symptoms mentioned were an exact match to what I was going through. Finally it all made sense!

As much of a burden as this condition can be, I’d rather know the truth and feel empowered to do something about it. From what I understand, healing takes time (months or even years) and it’s related to gut health. Eventually I’ll reintroduce certain foods and see if they still bring on symptoms, but for now I’m staying very low-histamine and feeling much, much better. Praise God!