Hard Rules Required for Good Health!

There is no way I could have succeeded in changing my behaviour, that is to change my diet, increase my exercise and lose weight without defined rules. I simply could not manage vague criteria and come out with a concrete result.

A little candy or chocolate? I always had trouble with that. Just one cookie, or one cookie occasionally or a few chips occasionally? Nope! It does not make sense either. Without definition, your behaviour cannot be defined. What exactly is a little or occasionally? Why not define it? Maybe commitment is still lacking.

Losing weight is difficult work. Lack of definition simply makes it harder and lowers the probability of success. It provides a connection to the reasons why one gained weight to begin with, but one needs to let go of the past behaviour that led to the weight gain initially. I am sure one cannot simply just change without reason or cause, or a plan for that matter. And the less defined it is, the harder it will be. It shows a lack of commitment and lacks the substance necessary to make the changes required to succeed.

I no longer eat artificial dyes and flavours. Dyes poison me, some of which I am allergic to. Artificial flavours entice me to eat food that is not good for me. They make it harder. They make the food unhealthy. I don’t need them, I don’t want them so I won’t eat them anymore. This rule eliminates most fast food and all candy.

I quit drinking. There was nothing good about alcohol and health. Some issues are specific to me, but regardless, it did not fit for either my mast cell disease, nor my goal to be healthy. None is the only answer and it has been much easier than drinking just a little.

There are many foods that cause an allergic reaction in me and cause gastric, cardio pulmonary, dermal and cognitive problems in me so I don’t eat any of them. Not a little, none at all once I know.

Histamine in food causes me trouble, but this is not an absolute. Histamine is a part of life and cannot be eliminated. Managing it keeps my GI tract, brain and the rest of my body healthy enough to eat and exercise. They are necessary. Once again I have an easy rule. No hi histamine foods and careful management of others. This is not directly related to weight loss, but overall health, which in my last post I explained.

I don’t eat cane sugar, as I get headaches from it. Sugar is not good for me so I eat as little as I can and nothing that sugar is the primary ingredient. I don’t eat chocolate, for example. Cocoa is also high histamine so none. For more on my Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD) and diet restrictions specific to this, please see The food I eat and the Poison I don’t.

I currently do not eat filler carbs. No rice, potatoes (allergic to anyway), or pasta. Once I reach phase 4, I may add some carbs back but they will always be managed and determined by how much exercise I am doing and how high my metabolism is.

I do eat bread, but only sprouted grains, no processed wheat flour, but because of artificial flavours and sugar content, there are few I can eat.

I do get carbs from dairy, but I choose higher fat dairy to balance my diet. Ingesting fat is not my enemy and does not make me fat. Excess carbs taken in are stored as fat. It is difficult to maintain. Fat is a more stable fuel source in actual fact.

Another rule for my diet is variability. Anything I do eat I try not to eat excessively and make sure to mix up foods so I am not eating a lot of any one food all the time. This is important for my health, but may not be as big a deal to others.

Everyone will have unique rules they require. But it is the definition that helps one change and guides future choices. These rules make it easier to make choices. No thought is required. Less fortitude is required. Having definition removes future rationalization and debate with oneself over how much of something bad is allowed.

And in the end, I have actually changed what I see when I look at things I have eliminated. If  I simply try to reduce them, I admit they always have that attraction to me and that they are acceptable as food in my diet. And that is not true. Most of these things have no nutritional value and do not contribute to health and in fact subtract something from our health. This acceptance of them provides the avenue for craving s to be maintained and I prefer to eliminate them, making my diet choices easier.

So make some rules to follow, or wait until you can before you attempt to change your diet, get healthy and lose weight. Wait until you are ready to commit to some rules that will guide your future path.

The Cost of Preventative Health Care

My goal was not just to lose weight, but to be healthy. Not easy to do and certainly not cheap either! I feel much better now than I have in many, many years because I do eat healthy and exercise regularly.

In Canada one can pretty much get most drugs covered by health care, at least after a deductible is reached. Doctors who prescribe drugs for treating symptoms too, no problem! But this method of dealing with our health is not healthy. It is reactive and without forethought and in many cases, without effort.

But try and eat right. It’s not cheap!

At least my gym membership is very reasonable at $4 per week and I do have to mention and thank Trevor Linden and Club 16 for this. I spend at least 8 hours per week using a variety of equipment and weights they provide. Can’t beat $.50/hour. Complemented by my intense dog walks, I have no issues with the exercise side of my proactive health care.

I don’t really want to eat anything special though. Just meat and vegetables, legumes, grains, maybe some dairy – all natural and nothing more. I would like to maximize my health benefit and to be able to eat the food I can eat and nothing else.

50 or 100 years ago it was possible and probable since we ate what we grew and there wasn’t a lot of the great new farming practices nor the processing and ingredients we use to make and ship food all over the world.

I cannot eat artificial dyes. I may also react to artificial flavouring, but even if I don’t, I do not want it in my food so I don’t have to deal with future issues, or with “idiopathic” issues – that is issues of no known cause (as long as you ignore what we put in our food, that is).

I want to eat healthy so I want the natural flavour of food to guide my palette and not man made, money motivated, enhanced flavouring added to so much of our food to help us want more. Well I don’t want more. I simply want what I need. My world is a  minefield of over reacting mast cells and allergic reactions. I need clean food!

In order to avoid many food additives I have no choice but to eat organic food. Almost all non organic bread contains artificial flavours. Obviously this is so we eat more. But I don’t want more simple carbohydrates in my diet. I am okay with complex carbs and I get enough bread from the sprouted breads I do eat.

I cannot eat genetically modified foods either. There is no way I put glyphosate and the other toxic ingredients from Roundup and other weed killers they are designed to absorb and concentrate into my body. There is so much wrong with this idea for everyone, but for someone who is reactive to extremely minute quantities of natural pesticides (anti nutrients) in food; I  think it is likely a good idea for me to avoid the arrogant practice of lacing our food with “harmless” and “safe” poison.

The way we use antibiotics and hormones too is another group of sad farming practices. Motivated solely by monetary gain; bigger animals from both antibiotics and hormones, more get to market. Good for farmers, but not at all healthy for us. I am sure this was not Mother Nature’s plan.

Another lovely North American practice I choose to avoid is the fact that we maximize yield of our crops by spraying them with weed killers that do kill them, just prior to harvest. This makes all the plants sprout just as they are harvested for “maximum yield;” however again we are just poisoning the food for many and who knows how much damage is really caused to everyone.

I was not healthy eating that way. I cannot eat that way! I can only make myself sick and kill myself that way.

I am healthy now but I avoid most man made processes and practices and food additives. These things are motivated by money and sales and not health.

I pay extra for that. And I mean a lot extra. Since the only way to avoid it at all (and maybe I cannot truly avoid it and simply choose to minimize it) is to eat organic. For years I ate organic, but threw in a lot of fast food and other non organic food whenever I felt like it, candy, sugar, carbs… and I loved the artificial flavours in my fast food.

To the tune of 230 lbs! And it is not just man made toxins I react to. Who knows where my issues with mast cells and my allergic reactions to food comes from; but even in eliminating them, I cannot eat a healthy diet of what is actually good for me by just avoiding those foods I am allergic to. I have to cleans all toxins that I can.

The pesticides we add, the artificial dyes and flavours, preservatives, thickeners, the sugar and much more; all are deadly and are a considerable factor in what makes living healthy an almost impossible task.

If I eat the crap and stay totally sick, I get free and subsidized medical help. But I have to feel like crap, sick, overweight, headaches, cognitive difficulties, psychological challenges…

If I want to eat healthy and be healthy, I have to pay! And I am sure I pay double at least for the right to eat clean food.

I find this a very sad state. Proactive health care is costly, but beneficial to me and to society in reducing health care costs. As a behavioural specialist, I am pretty sure I know the benefit of treating illness as a preference, rather than preventing it. Reactive health care is big business. Proactive health care is small business.

There is huge money in feeding us crap and getting us to eat crap; making us fatter and unhealthy as we go. This creates a very significant stream of cash for some. Forcing us to pay so much to eat healthy makes it very unlikely that we all will do so and can afford to do so. I hear this all the time.

But there is nothing more important to me. And changing my diet is the most important thing I have ever done.

I am not free from illness but at least I feel I have some control over my health, whereas I did not before. As long as I can afford it, I will continue to eat healthy foods, free of pesticicdes where possible, free from artificial dyes and flavours, free from other additives and preservatives, free of antibiotics and hormones!

I figure I’ll pay either way so I choose to pay for clean food now and have fun while I can.

My Fitness and Health: In the Beginning

In 2017 I was determined once again to find a way to lose weight and exercise and find my way to a healthy state. I did not know that many of the healthy foods I was eating were actually making me sick and preventing me from achieving my goal.

Back in May 2017 I had been trying to eat more healthy, but really was not getting anywhere. I just did not have the mental fortitude nor the right diet at the time despite eating a lot more healthy vegetables. Turns out they were the wrong vegetables.

More baked potatoes, more bell peppers and tomatoes, lots of spicy foods, cayenne too, supposedly great for digestion and of course lots of intermittent fast food when making my own was not convenient. Too much alcohol, too much sugar, too many empty carbs and too many vegetables and fruits I was actually allergic to.

Plants contain many different anti nutrients, substances like sapponins, lectins, salicylates, oxalates, phytates, and more – natural compounds to make eating them less likely, toxic to insects.  And of course, heavy metals like nickel too. Although most people can tolerate these anti nutrients, there seems to be a significant number of people who do not.

As it turns out that since my separation and divorce that I changed how I ate. Partially the batching process of making large pots of stew, chili, spaghetti sauce and more became even more common once my dog Dylan became seriously ill and I had no choice but to stay home with her for long periods. Unable to just run errands, I ate big pots of food I made, unfortunately containing mostly nightshades plants, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers in particular, continuously for days, even weeks at times.

As it turns out, now that my memory is much more clear and the brain fog I experienced has lifted, the effects of eating these plants it turns out I am allergic to, primarily caused serious cognitive difficulties including complete memory loss to the point that I could not recall words or memories and could not form new memories. I could not maintain attention on anything, losing my train of thought hundreds of times in a day.

So many different symptoms from migraines and other headaches, visual aura’s, to memory and attention loss, mood swings, depression, manic episodes. Gastrointestinal, cardio pulmonary symptoms, itching and burning in my hands, feet, face and elsewhere. Inflammation in joints, my spine in particular. Needless  to say, the start of any health plan must begin with a healthy diet, both to make sure proper nutrition is maintained, but also that metabolism is maximized and mental strength is capable of the fortitude necessary to uphold the new diet and exercise regimen.

Once I straightened my diet out for my unique requirements, my mind finally began to gain strength and clarity. With some simple, but absolute rules and a basic diet of meat and vegetables, no artificial dyes nor flavours, no fast food, no candy, no filler carbs, no alcohol. It turns out I have some very specific and unique restrictions. For more details on food I react to, I maintain a separate post of my current diet and the many reasons I eat or restrict specific foods.

Food I eat and the poison I don’t!

After starting my new diet at 230 lbs back in Aug, of 2017, I have successfully navigated the first two phases of my health plan.

For specific reasons that heat and the histamine and chemicals released as a result that cause me trouble; and I release far more of these than a normal person does, I needed to lose weight first. I needed to lower my weight so that when I did exercise, there was less load to carry and in fact less insulation which would prevent the heat loss I need when I exercise.

Keeping as cool as possible is essential for me since it causes increases in histamine which translates to signalling my mast cells (cells of the immune system that reside all over the body) to dump their contents and signal an immune response that occurs throughout my body, including within my central nervous system (CNS). This response creates the symptoms I have struggled with that have led to failure of every other previous attempt to exercise.

I am allergic to exercise, but thanks to my new knowledge, once I dropped to my first goal of 185 lbs, having lost 45 lbs, I began working out. My next goal was 170 lbs, but I new that with exercise this would be a slower process. But as I did in the first phase, I have been able to significantly increase my bodies metabolism.

In the first phase of weight loss only, this meant varying the amount of food I ate daily. Some days I would eat very well. Some days I ate small amounts all day long. Other days I did not eat at all. Also in that phase I only allowed moderate exercise. This allowed my body to heal in many ways now that I was no longer ingesting food that my body could not tolerate. But the variability in calories ingested and activity levels was still essential.

If the body believes we are not going to get enough food, it will shut down metabolism and conserve resources. This is the opposite of what we want. We want it to feel free to burn fat. To do this the body must believe it will get food at some point. Although activity was required, I found it easier to resist eating and endure hunger if I did not overdo exercise. And enduring hunger was required and why my regained mental fortitude made it possible to succeed.

Once I reached 185 lbs, I started doing longer and harder dog walks for cardiovascular exercise. My dogs pull hard and we walk fast. Once again my unique situation means I have to be very careful of creating extra heat, but this knowledge has helped not to manage my exercise and I have grown these walks throughout the 2nd phase to where in one hour I walk about 8 km (5 mi), running a good portion of it, average pace of 8 km/hr and a maximum pace of 15+ km/hr (~10 mi/hr).

My work in the gym I limit the duration of my workouts and keep them shorter than I have in the past. But once again my plan has been to get metabolism going as much as possible and varying the intensity of my exercise from killer pushing to my limit and exhausting myself in shorter hard working bursts, followed by more moderate levels of activity, but never really resting.

I have been successful in this as I feel my body burning calories all of the time. My body burns not just when running, walking or pushing weights. It burns calories while sitting and while sleeping. And I continue to vary what I eat, except that throughout the second phase and currently now that I am no longer trying to lose weight (3rd phase), the goal is to feed exercise and muscle growth with higher levels of protein in particular. when activity is lower such as on rest days, I reduce what I eat and can allow fat burning as needed.

Phase 2 – Exercise and weight loss.

At this point I don’t know what my final weight will be. My goal is to continue to reduce body fat, although I do plan to maintain a healthy layer. Given that I can get sick and stay sick and that GI symptoms can prevent eating. Exercise itself can cause stomach cramps, bloating and heartburn and even leaky gut to a level that prevents eating and further activity.

I intend to continue to build muscle and improve my cardiovascular fitness. The latter is going to be essential in order to maintain exercise this coming summer when heat will begin to  be a major issue for me. I may not get as much benefit, but I will be able to walk long distances without generating as much heat. Summer is likely to be more of a maintenance period. Excessive heat disables me. It has caused failure of my fitness plan in the past, but once again the knowledge I now have will help me manage my health and fitness much better than any time in my past.

I am looking forward to continuing on this path. I am not worried about regaining weight as I don’t ever see myself ever being able to nor wanting to go back to my old ways. This was a permanent change I am enjoying immensely.  Some are worried I may become obsessed with losing all of the fat on my body, but I also know that won’t be the case.

My goal is and always has been better health and fitness. It has never been just about weight loss and body fat. And I am going exactly as planned.



Food I eat and the poison I don’t!

Here is my diet, mostly in point form below. Please note that this is a document in progress!

One cautionary note I want to share about making changes in one’s own diet is that by removing foods that you have become desensitized to and currently tolerate, you may in fact cause them to become resensitized so foods that used to bother you only a little or not at all in small quantities may cause a severe reaction when reintroduced.

I strongly suggest caution when removing food you may want to continue to eat and suggest you remove suspected minor irritants after major irritants have been removed, or that you remove something only for a short period initially. This will provide a cleaner slate to measure the effect of removing other food that may not be a major problem.

Most of my diet takes this into account. When I first learned of my Mast Cell Activation Disease, anti nutrients, my nickel allergy, histamine, etc.; I wanted to remove all bad things on the many lists; however if one looks at Oxalates, salicylates, Phytates, Lectins, Saponins… (more on these to come in future posts) one won’t be left with much to eat and many things you could eat you might no longer be able to eat if you remove them and resensitize to them.

It is very important to continue to make choices that provide healthy nutrition and not just eliminate things you might be afraid of. This is a common problem driven by fear and it can lead to significant deterioration in overall health, even beyond what is currently a problem.

Total elimination diets and reintroduction of foods may be necessary in some cases, but my opinion remains that one should try to structure removal of foods in a worst first method. This does not work for everyone.

Much of the info on Histamine diet and foods I refer to and my guidance when it comes to histamine in my diet came from http://mastattack.org.

However I also combine the approach I have maintained for the care of my dogs and myself for many years that stresses providing good nutrition even when sick.  I just did not know the difference between food that is generally good for you and intolerance to certain nutrients that modifies that condition. I also found this approach espoused very well on http://healinghistamine.com.

In some cases a complete cleans may be necessary, but I would not choose to do so unless it was.

This should only be determined with the help of a health care professional, Medical Doctor, Naturopathic Doctor, etc. And my personal caution is that I would first need to determine if that health care professional had any knowledge of mast cell disorders, actual nutritional value, anti nutrients etc.

In Progress:

At the moment I have three categories of food that are a problem:

  1. Food that poisons me and causes an allergic reaction in me and influences every histamine system; Skin, GI, Cardiopulmonary, CNS, immune system – Everything. And I do not yet know exactly what it is that causes these reactions.
  2. High histamine since I produce a ton more than I need and everything that produces higher histamine levels causes my baseline symptoms to increase.
  3. Nickel allergy that requires me to reduce overall nickel intake.

Food I eat:

-Squash (butternut, acorn, zucchini)
-Brussels Sprouts
-Boc Choi
-Sweet Basil

-Apples (have not tried all types yet and some are high in other anti nutrients)

-Chicken (limit intake due to higher inflammatory properties)
-Whey Protein
-fresh caught fish (within 30 minutes, unlikely)

-Fish oil
-Coconut oil
-Canola oil
-Safflower oil
-Sunflower seed oil
-Olive oil


-Dairy (not fermented, listed below)
-Cereal cream
-Ice Cream
-Mozzarella cheese
-Almond Milk
-Coconut milk

-Maple Syrup
-Pure jams and jellies (of acceptable fruit)
-Apple butter

-Baking soda
-Baking powder

Food I eat, but limit because of high nickel levels:
-Almonds and Almond milk
-Sunflower seeds
-Pine nuts
-Sesame seeds
-Oats (also high in phytates I control with soaking in acid and Rye flakes)
-Chic peas
-Romaine lettuce
-Rice crackers

Food I limit frequency and amount due to high histamine, other anti nutrients:
-Dairy (fermented; small quantities only)
-Greek Yogurt (not sure anymore)
-Kefir (not sure anymore)
-Parmesan cheese (small quantities)
-Cheddar cheese (medium, very small quantities)
-Bread (sprouted whole grains; however still investigating)
-Strawberries (flavouring only, not sure)
-Raspberries (maybe not, not sure/flavouring only)
-Blueberries (flavouring only, not sure)
-Lemon juice in small quantities (exception to Citrus)
-Cesar Dressing**
-ranch dressing

Food I limit for other reasons:
-Coconut sugar (very little)
-Simple carbs

Stuff I don’t eat ever and that poisons me:
-Nightshades including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers (both sweet and spicy), egg plant
-Cherries (not a true nightshade but carry many of the same anti nutrients)
-Artificial Dyes
-Gum of Arachia
-Malt in bread etc
-Cane sugar (headaches in particular)
-Brazil Nuts
-Artificial Flavours
-Artificial sweeteners

Food I don’t eat due to high histamine levels:
-Peas (green, sweet or sugar)
-Unpasteurized honey
-Cocoa beans
-Pickled products
-Canned products
-Dairy (fermented, some I love listed below)
-Aged chedder
-Sour cream
-Cottage cheese
-Cream cheese
-Yeasts, yeast extract,
-Flavored gelatin
-Vinegar of any kind (minor amounts in some foods like Mayonnaise or even mustard I will eat)
-Citrus Fruits
-Berries, including cranberries, blueberries (not sure), blackberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries**, strawberries**
-Stone fruits, including apricots, cherries (poison me), nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes; bananas, grapes, currants, dates, papayas, pineapples, raisins.
-Dried fruit of any kind
-Processed meats
-Leftover meats (must be frozen for left overs)
-Dehydrated meat (eg. beef jerky)
-Raw egg white

Food I don’t eat due to High Nickel levels (I am simply trying to reduce overall nickel levels and eliminate only the worst offenders):
-green, brown and white beans
-canned foods

Food I don’t Eat for other poisonous reasons:
-GMO anything (Corn, Canola, Soy, etc)

Food I am yet to test (may or may not be be high histamine or high in other anti nutrients):
-Other squash
-Low histamine fruits I have not tried: Melons including Watermelon, Honeydo Melon and; fig, kiwi, passion fruit, rhubarb, starfruit, longans, lychees
-Fish (high histamine)
-Unfermented Cheese I have not tried; Mascarpone, ricotta, panir
-Pure, unbleached flour or grains (not high in histamine but Nickel or other anti nutrients may be an issue), but I have not tried many of these as of yet
-many forms of rice (not sure if brown or white is better, conflicting info to be resolved on Nickel and histamine, etc first
-pinto beans, white beans, navy beans, black eyed peas, black beans, lentils, split peas (all are higher in nickel and need to be regulated)
-plain gelatin,
-cream of tartar
-pasteurized honey (have not found any I would eat)
-Products that use baking powder for leavening like biscuits, soda bread, scones and muffins.
-Crackers without yeast are allowed, as are cereals if they don’t contain excluded ingredients.

Guidelines for Histamine:
1) Anything fermented should be avoided. Fermentation produces histamine as a side product. Some are only sensitive to yeast fermented products while some find that fermentation from any organism is triggering.
2) No preservatives and no dyes.
3) No leftovers and nothing overly ripe. This is one of the harder parts of this diet, but I find it very important. Fresh or frozen products seem okay. I have mixed success with thawing frozen meat, but lots of people do it successfully. The key is to not cook something, put it in the fridge and eat it three days later.
4) No canned products.
5) No pickled products.

* Allow small quantities
** Exception used in small quantities for flavour