I went on a very long walk. I needed to think hard about how I wanted to proceed with everything in my life and decided to go on the St. James Way, the Camino Frances, in the north of Spain. Needless to say that I decided to go on this long walk with the thought of potentially never finishing it if the HIT got in the way. So I bought myself a backpack and all that was needed otherwise and started in Pamplona with 9 kilos on my back. I did go training previous to that, so my legs were ready. It was an absolutely amazing and occasionally quite a hard journey, and it was not only a trail where I got to know a lot of fantastic people on the way, who all did the same thing for their own reasons, but it was also for me a great revelation about my own condition. I finished the walk after 45 days and absolved a whopping distance of 800 kilometers, ending it in Finisterre. I can now say for myself that I have overcome my HIT. I had no problems with the food there (although I was careful with the fructose aspect as I also have fructose malabsorption, even though that has also much improved). I even – dare I say it? – had small amounts of red wine on some evenings and was fine. All this is something I could not do 8 years ago, nor 4 years ago, but now I can.
Before this much revealing journey, for a long time I was not sure if I could ever get rid of my HIT. “Is it for the rest of my life?” I asked myself on every other occasion. Will I always have to be careful, when I eat something? Will I ever get out of this? 8 years after my diagnosis I can say yes, you can get out of this, but it depends on a lot of things.
It depends on what causes your symptoms. Is it the DAO problem? Or is it a mast cell problem? Is it an allergy together with HIT? Mine was a mix of HIT and another food intolerance (fructose malabsorption), which caused havoc, with the main symptom being diarrhea and a string of others that were triggered by the previously mentioned.
So how did I get to this point, that I can say that I have overcome my own version of HIT? By doing what I said in the book. By being very disciplined, fighting the fear of food, by continuously working on my threshold, developing my own personal system of re-introduction as and when fit, both in the HIT and the fructose malabsorption department, by looking after my guts. And by getting on with my life, getting back into my regular job, adapting life to my diet, and never, ever, ever giving up. Sometimes I felt like giving up, but in the end I didn’t.
I followed the low-histamine diet – in combination with the low-fructose diet – followed by the re-introduction phase, and working out what my personal needs are. I did not follow diets such as FODMAP, Whole 30, AIP, Paleo, Vegetarian or a Vegan diet. I did not do any sort of detox, specially not one involving just liquid with aggressive diuretics in it. I guarantee you, if you go to the gastroenterologist, which is recommendable in many cases, then your guts will be sparkly clean. No need for a detox, which is a questionable thing to do when you are sick anyway. A ‘detox’ is quite likely not just to get rid of the bad, but also of the good stuff in your guts. Last but not least, I kept fit. I didn’t do any extreme sports. I went for long walks. Weekends are great for getting together with friends or your partner and going for walks somewhere in nature.
If you are reading this you will hopefully already have had a diagnosis, you will have started a food diary and you will have gone through the elimination (usually 2-4 weeks) with a registered dietician by your side. For me personally it was the only way to get to where I am now, and that is why I want to tell you:
Never give up. Never, ever, ever. And learn to listen to yourself.