How to Deal: Eating at the Office with Histamine Intolerance
Dealing with the stress and limitations of a histamine intolerance diet can make it difficult to participate in the fun and camaraderie of office treats, take-out orders, and parties. Read on to learn how to deal, how to lower stress and inflammation at work, and how to join in the fun without the histamine hangover.
PLAN (AND COOK) AHEAD
Over the weekend, make up some delicious, antihistamine dishes and freeze them in individual portions. That way, the food stays fresh (little chance for histamine-producing bacteria to do their dirty work in the fridge) and you can thaw it as you need it.
You can also wash and prepare greens for salads, chop vegetables ahead, and even freeze ingredients for one smoothie in a Ziploc bag. Then it’s easy to dump the contents in a blender, add your liquid, blend, and pour into a Blender Bottle or travel cup to consume when you like.
Better yet, have a weekly meal planner ready. Believe me when I tell you this will save you TONS of stress and unhappiness. It took me far too long to do this myself.
SET UP A MINI KITCHEN & PANTRY
You can buy a basic plug-in single burner or hot plate for about $20-$30. This is great for heating up antihistamine soups and other dishes. It’s pretty easy to find a small, stainless steel pot with a cover or a shallow, wider one for warming some stir-fry, grains, or beans.
There’s also the option of an electric teapot for your teas and tisanes if your office doesn’t have hot water on tap.
If you like to bring salads for lunch — or anything else requiring a sauce or dressing — you might want to keep a little pantry stash at the office, complete with your favorite antihistamine, anti-inflammatory condiments and seasonings.
If you want to feel a part of the group, and join in on the take-out order every so often, just be clear on what you do and don’t want. Volunteer to make the call, if you can. Generally, no one minds handing off a task.
Keep it simple and ask what is fresh today. Then tell them exactly what you want, as in a custom order. For example, ask for plain meat or vegetables cooked in olive oil only with plain boiled rice and a plate of lettuce and tolerated vegetables, skip the dressing. Then you can just add your own dressing when the order arrives.
DON’T EAT AT YOUR DESK
At lunchtime, eat outside if you have the option. Notice all the beautiful things around you. Practice gratitude for your food. Gratitude has been shown to lower inflammatory markers and increase quality of life and happiness. And it’s completely free and can be done anywhere, anytime.
The biggest mistake I made for years was scarfing
Breaks and lunchtime are a great opportunity to practice mindfulness, lower stress, and engage in some antihistamine and anti-inflammatory activities to support your healing. At break time, consider going for a short walk, doing some breathing exercises, there’s some great apps for the phone.
And join others! “Never Eat Alone,” as the 2005 networking book recommends. Having positive relationships with those around you, whether inside or outside the office, has health-promoting effects.
But, stay away from negative people. Your cells can’t afford the exposure. Read why in my post The Role of Toxic Relationships in Chronic Illness. Find optimistic, happy people who look for the good in life.
HAVE A SELECTION OF ANTIHISTAMINE TEAS AT WORK
When others are having their hot beverage of choice, you’ll have a whole array of delicious teas to choose from. Consider the variety of Tulsi teas out there, ginger tea, camellia flower tea, or whatever you enjoy and tolerate well. Studies show that simply holding a hot beverage in your hands gives you a more positive outlook — which is great for lowering histamine.
You may even want to try lavender tea for its combination antihistamine (found to inhibit mast cell degranulation) and calming effects. For other ideas, check out my post, Tasty Antihistamine Hot Beverages.
Or, why not have some iced tea? Just brew your herb of choice double strength, chill, and serve over ice. You can lightly sweeten, if you like, with your choice of tolerated sweetener. You can even add some slices of antihistamine fruit or herbs to give it a spa-like feel. Try peach and/or basil — especially with tulsi (holy basil) tea.
BRING A TASTY ANTIHISTAMINE SNACK OR TREAT TO SHARE
We all know the tendency of well-meaning coworkers to bring pastries, cookies, and cake to the office as a gesture. But office treats don’t have to be sugar-coated or artificially colored. Volunteer to bring snacks or a dessert to work on occasion — no one has to know how healthy it really is.
A fruit salad may be very welcome for coffee break or lunch. Try a combination of mango and pomegranate arils. Everyone loves chips. Why not make some homemade sweet potato chips (sweet potatoes, olive oil, and sea salt)? Try doing a combination of orange and purple sweet potatoes for color. You could even add beet for extra color and flavonoids.
While it’s perfectly fine to let others know your dietary limitations, try not to focus on it. Don’t be the one who’s always talking about your health challenges. Talk about what’s going well; ask others what’s going well. Show interest in other things besides health and embrace the culinary arts as an exciting adventure.
Williams, L. E., & Bargh, J. A. (2008). Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth. Science (New York, N.Y.), 322(5901), 606–607. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.1162548
Ziaee, M., Khorrami, A., Ebrahimi, M., Nourafcan, H., Amiraslanzadeh, M., Rameshrad, M., … Garjani, A. (2015). Cardioprotective Effects of Essential Oil of Lavandula angustifolia on Isoproterenol-induced Acute Myocardial Infarction in Rat. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research : IJPR, 14(1), 279–289.