Low Histamine Recipes Meat Handling Mistakes and Tips for Histamine Intolerance Mast Cell Activation Syndrome 2

Are you Raising your Histamine Levels with these Meat Handling Mistakes?

When you have Histamine Intolerance or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, you want to make sure you store and prepare meat in specific ways to keep the histamine levels low. This is because bacteria grows very quickly on meat.

These are the most common Meat Handling Mistakes I see my clients make. But it wouldn’t be fair to just tell you about mistakes. Each mistake also has tips on the best ways to keep those histamine levels low in meats.

I’ve seen hundreds of clients who were suffering with MCAS and Histamine Intolerance – all were making at least one of the mistakes below. They all had big improvements with following the tips on the best ways to handle meat and fish to keep it low histamine.

1. Mistake: Buying conventionally raised meat and farmed fish.
Conventionally raised meat and farmed fish can have high levels of antibiotics, toxins, and growth hormones. These can all raise histamine levels. Further, the animals are raised in stressful conditions. These means they are full of stress hormones that you then consume with the meat. They are also fed grains that make the meat or fish inflammatory. This spells bad news for mast cells.

Instead: Buy pasture raised meat and wild caught fish.
Pasture raised means the animals were raised outdoors on grass. They are also raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. This method is certainly more humane for the animals. There are many other health benefits too. Pasture raised meats and wild caught fish have higher levels of Omega 3s that are good for your mast cells (and help keep histamine lower).

Pasture raised meats are also raised without chemicals that wreck havoc on your body. It is important to find a reputable source, since some farmers use the term “pasture-raised” lightly. (Note – “natural” and organic meats are still fed grains. Natural and Organic does not mean the same as pasture raised.)

The next tips tell you how to find low histamine pasture raised meats and low histamine wild caught fish.

2. Mistake: Buying unfrozen meat or fish at the grocery meat department.
Meat and fish build in histamine levels very fast, especially on unfrozen meat and fish. Meat and fish can sit unfrozen at the grocery for a week or more. And who knows how old it was before it made it to the grocery?

Instead: Buy meat as fresh as possible and immediately frozen after slaughter.
I get pasture raised meat from a local farmer who freezes the meat directly after slaughter. It is frozen when I pick it up, and it stays in my freezer until thawing time. This has worked best for me. See #6 for more on how to source low-histamine fish.

3. Mistake: Giving up if you don’t have access to a local farmer.
Having MCAS and/or Histamine Intolerance means we have to work a little harder to source our food. Don’t give up! Your health is worth getting the best protein sources you can for your body.

Instead: If you don’t have access to a local farmer who freezes right after slaughter, you have a really good online option. US Wellness Meats* has pastured chicken, turkey, and rabbit that are frozen right after slaughter. (Their bison and pork are chilled but not frozen, so may be higher histamine.) They have good prices too.

If you just can’t buy your meat through option 1 or 2 above, then call the store where you purchase meat and ask what day the meat arrives. Let them know you have a health issue with histamines and have to buy your meat as fresh as possible. When you arrive, ask for the meat that came in that day. Remind them that you called earlier about histamine issues. Only buy the meat that came in that day. Then either freeze the raw meat or cook the meat right away and freeze the leftovers. Just remember this isn’t as low histamine as buying it frozen after slaughter.

4. Mistake: Buying beef.
Almost all beef is aged making it very high histamine. So it is usually best to avoid beef unless you can get it unaged and frozen immediately after slaughter. This is really rare and hard to find.

Instead: Choose pasture raised, frozen chicken, pork, lamb, mutton, and turkey.
These won’t be aged and will be lower histamine if handles properly.

5. Mistake: Buying ground meats.
Ground meats collect bacteria faster because of increased surface area. I’ve tried the ground pork multiple times from my tried and true local farmer. I was hoping that since it was frozen right away, it would be ok. But I reacted badly each time. So skip the pre-ground meats. Even the frozen ones.

Instead: Grind your own meat at home using a meat grinder.
I’ve used the meat grinder attachments that come with my food processor and juicer. What if you don’t have those appliances and still really want breakfast sausage? This meat grinder* is a good option and is very affordable.

6. Mistake: Eating Fish
In order to be safe for mast cell and histamine issues – fish and shellfish have to be gutted within 30 minutes after catch. Then the fish has to be frozen on the boat to keep histamine levels down. Otherwise, fish and seafood are some of the highest histamine foods! Fish and seafood that wasn’t immediately gutted and frozen can be your worst histamine enemy.

Instead: What if you really love fish? Vital Choice* guarantees their King Salmon is gutted and flash frozen on the boat, so it is the safest option for those of us with histamine issues. The Sockeye Salmon is caught close to shore and processed quickly. You might try it once you have had significant recovery with histamine sensitivities.  

Skip the smoked fish, caviar, and jerky. Also skip the processed fish options: burgers, hot dogs, sausage and bacon. (They have meat options too, but the prices are much higher than US Wellness Meats. So I suggest Vital Choice* for fish and US Wellness Meats* for meat.)

7. Mistake: Letting meat or fish sit in the fridge after thawing.
Again, those histamine levels will build quickly. Don’t let meat or fish sit in the fridge after thawing!

Instead: To thaw your meat or fish, let it thaw in the fridge until it is still a little frosty but almost thawed through.
Or for smaller cuts of meat, you can run hot water over it until thawed. An Instant Pot can cook meat that is frozen solid to done in usually 45 to 90 minutes.

8. Mistake: Keeping leftovers in the fridge.
The bacteria that produce histamines start building right away on leftovers. Even in the fridge. It is worse with meat. But even veggies will build in histamine levels too.

Instead: Once you cook meat, freeze the leftovers right away.
When I’m done cooking, I make my plate and immediately put all leftovers into glass storage containers and put them in the freezer. This really does make a huge difference. Some things, like salads, obviously won’t freeze well. But freeze leftovers as much as possible.

Then thaw your leftovers as you are going to eat them – again you can thaw in the fridge until still a little frosty. Or you can run hot water over it to thaw. Then reheat. I do choose to sometimes use a microwave to thaw my food. It is mainly the radiation from microwaves that are the problem. So I leave the kitchen while the microwave is heating leftovers to avoid the radiation.

9. Mistake: Ordering meat or fish when eating out.
Eating out can be tricky – you don’t ever know how old the meat or fish is at a restaurant. You can ask what the freshest choices are among chicken, turkey, pork, and lamb. But even that can be tricky. And it is definitely better to avoid fish and seafood at a restaurant unless it is prepared fresh from a tank. Skip the fish special. Skip the sushi and sashimi.

Instead: I prefer not to risk ordering meat at a restaurant.
I check the menu ahead of time and make a list of my low histamine options. I usually order vegetables. Then, I bring a little container of my thawed, cooked meat in my purse (kept chilled on the way). Once at the restaurant, I just let the waiter or waitress know I have some food sensitivities. I let them know what I can have from the menu options. If you are polite, restaurants are usually very kind about accommodating food sensitivities. Once my meal arrives, I discreetly add the protein I brought to my plate.

10. Mistake: Stressing out about getting low histamine “right”.
Sometimes my clients worry so much about controlling everything with their food that they make things worse. If you’ve read my free report The 7 Root Causes of MCAS, you know stress increases mast cell problems. (If you haven’t read it, you can get it here.)

Instead: Don’t let yourself stress about food. I’m not perfect, and you won’t be either. Just do your best. And be sure to enjoy your low histamine food! 🙂

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*Some links in this website are affiliate links, which means I may make a very small commission if you purchase through the link. It never costs you any more to purchase through the links, and I try to find the best deals I can. I only recommend products that I love and use personally or use in my practice. Any commissions help support the newsletter, website, and ongoing research so I can continue to offer you free tips, recipes, and info. Thank you for your support!


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  5. Amy

    Thank you for the encouragement and tips. I so wish someone would publish a hard cover cookbook with meal plans to help those, like me, who are busy raising families, exhausted, and sick! Recipes are helpful…but I could really use daily menus and weekly/monthly meal plans to help!

    I rely on my instant pot a lot and I’m glad you mentioned it. It’s been a godsend! I find it useful to put my frozen leftovers in the instant pot (covered with parchment paper and foil and on the rack it came with) with about a cup of water and hit the STEAM button for 15-20 minutes (depending on size of leftovers). This option has saved me from multiple microwave use. However, I do have to rely on the microwave if I’m out of the house.

    More tips for eating out would be helpful too! I do my best but by the time restaurants have stipped down dishes of all my food allergies/sensitivities, I’m usually left with a steamed vegetable or salad (I bring my own olive oil). 🙁 It just doesn’t seem worth eating out anymore or traveling anywhere. 🙁

    Thank you for sharing resources! I do love US Wellness and shop there when I can’t find certain cuts from my farmer’s market. I’m too afraid to add back fish right now, but I have ordered from Vital Choice before and US Wellness sometimes carries various fish from Vital Choice. Both great companies!

    Kasindrinos sells these great travel packets of olive oil that I keep in my purse when I travel: https://kasandrinos.com/collections/olive-oil/products/box-of-20-kasandrinos-organic-extra-virgin-olive-oil-travel-packets-12ml

    Christina from the blog A Clean Plate has an ecookbook with 28 day meal plans that are low-histamine and AIP. I find it’s been extremely helpful and the meals are delicious, but can still be somewhat restrictive since it’s also AIP. Some of the meals include avocados, cinnamon and mushrooms which I have to avoid right now.

    Just thought I would share these two resources in case they might help anyone.

    Thanks again, for the valuable information!

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Thank you for such great tips and resources! I take my own olive oil too both when traveling and eating out – I usually put it in a re-purposed glass spice jar. Wonderful ideas for future blog posts – I’ll see what I can get out there!

      1. Niki

        I just found a source of “flash frozen” fish at my local supermarket and wonder if you have any comment. While it is farmed, the package says they are “responsibly raised in pristine open waters and farmed at low densities” and”fed a predominantly vegetarian diet.”

        1. Beth O'Hara

          Hi Niki, it really depends on how soon after catch the baramundi was frozen. I recommend taking a look at my low histamine Foods list and working through the elimination phases. Once you get to phase 2, you can try to introduce some frozen wild Alaskan salmon. This is the lowest histamine fish option, next to something freshly caught and served immediately on the boat. I wouldn’t try the flash frozen barramundi until phase 3.

  6. Niki

    I just found a source of “flash frozen” fish at my local supermarket and wonder if you have any comment. While it is farmed, the package says they are “responsibly raised in pristine open waters and farmed at low densities” and”fed a predominantly vegetarian diet.”

  7. Nicole

    I just contacted a local farmer and could use some help with her answer.
    What’s normal and what’s possible in terms of freezing “immediately” after slaughter? Maybe the answer is, the smaller the animal, the better?

    “Well, for pork and lamb and beef, the animal is hung actually for days after slaughter, to ensure the rigor process completes. The larger the animal, the longer the hang time. So all pork and lamb from our farm is processed at a licensed slaughter house where it is aged the requisite time. After aging, then it is butchered and frozen. Without this process, the meat will be very tough. I can ask my processor if they would butcher directly after slaughter, I am not sure if the CDA or USDA requires this aging time, but it is industry standard. All I have available at this time are pork and lamb by the half or by the whole. I can ask if they could do this differently for you. I have butcher dates set for March 2 for lamb, and Feb 2 for pork. A non-refundable deposit is required to hold an animal for you. Let me see if they can butcher the same day as slaughter, but know that the meat is missing an important processing step that may completely change the quality of the meat.”

    1. Beth O'Hara

      Hi Nicole,
      Great question. It depends on how sensitive you are and how full your Histamine bucket is. I recommend you try some pasture raised, frozen after slaughter chicken first. Then as your Histamine bucket improves, you could trial their pork or lamb and see how you do.

      1. Jaime

        Hello what is we cannot find pastured chicken? I can look for frozen chicken but deff not any pastured around. Will organic or cage free be fine aslong as its frozen? Thanks

        1. Beth O'Hara

          Hi Jaime. If you can’t find Pasture raised meat locally, I would use US Wellness Meats. Organic and cage free would be 2nd best. These are grain fed, and are much higher in unhealthy fats. Also the grain fed meats can trigger people with mast cell and histamine issues.

    2. Rachel Christenson

      I get pork and lamb from local farms and yes all meat hangs for a little bit but pork and lamb are not very long from what I know. The place I get lamb from has all of their meat back from the butcher within 3 days. My husband hunts and you have to at least let the meat cool down before cutting or it is very hard to cut up so over night to a day for our venison then the time cutting and packaging. I have never had an issue with this. I am not quite as sensitive as some, but I do have to be careful.

  8. Teresa

    Omg you just helped me so much. I am a mma fighter and I’ve been crippled for months. Sibo and mold. But I’m in histamine awful intolerance. I stopped eating pretty much. ESP meat and was always away from dairy and gluten, but I’ve been eating meat the past two months without making these considerations and I’ve relapsed. Gut and histamine. I can’t workout. It’s flares me up the next day. Workout is my life. I thought I needed to go vegan

    1. Beth O'Hara

      I’m.so glad this post helped you! I hope you are back to MMA soon! If you need help with these areas, just let us know.

  9. Amy

    It’s becoming so difficult to find the “good” meats now with COVID-19, even at the above mentioned resources! People here are hoarding and it has limited me significantly! I wondered if anyone has any other resources they go to. It’s becoming extremely stressful and now contributing to my illness. 🙁

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