One thing to know about me is that I get migraines . . . a lot. At least I used to. I’ve actually been getting them since I was three years old. I know, insane right? I get them so severely and so often that I have to take daily medication to prevent them from coming on. And they aren’t regular headaches either. I don’t get the kind of headaches that gets better with a pain reliever. I actually don’t get the actual headache at all. No, I’m not crazy. You can have a migraine without a headache. Headache is just a symptom of a migraine. I get other symptoms. I get so dizzy I can barely walk, I have blurry vision, I get nauseous, etc. Fun stuff, huh?
It wasn’t until recently that I started to realize just how my diet affects my migraines. I guess I’m a late bloomer. I’ve always known about the obvious food triggers, such as caffeine and chocolate. Caffeine and I have had a love/hate relationship for years. I have fallen off the wagon numerous times, but I am now happy to report that I have kicked the caffeine habit.
Of course, chocolate is a whole other story. My neurologist would tell me countless times to switch to white chocolate (because only the cocoa is a trigger), but seriously?? Was he mad?? White chocolate isn’t even chocolate. I adore dark chocolate. However, after getting sick of all the headaches, I haven’t had a piece of chocolate in MONTHS. Seriously, that is what is killing me right now.
Of course, the headaches kept coming. Then I came across this great book by a doctor, “Heal Your Headache” by David Buchholz. He talks about a great plan to decrease and even get rid of your migraines. It starts with getting rid of all pain relievers and not taking them at all. Some of them can cause rebound headaches. The other step was to eliminate all possible food triggers from your diet for a period of 3-4 months to eliminate the toxins from your body and hopefully see a change in the amount of headaches. After that point, the plan is to gradually reintroduce the triggers one by one for a week at a time to see which triggers are actually causing my headaches.
Starting this program was a huge undertaking. I knew it would be a huge lifestyle change and that even my husband would have to change a little bit in order to make our dinners a bit more “migraine-friendly.” Frankly, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But I wanted to try for the sake of my health. And the results have been awesome. I am eating better and my migraines have gone wayyyy down. Granted, I have had a couple of cheat days but all in all, I have stuck to it pretty tightly. I have been on the diet since May 25. If I want to go the whole 4 months, that means I will still be on it until September. We will see how I’m feeling. I’m still not sure about that.
The only thing is that the diet is very, very restrictive. There are even some healthy things on the list that I haven’t been able to eat because they may be triggers. Below is a list of stuff I am not allowed to eat/drink:
- coffee, tea, sodas. no decaf coffees either (Goodbye Starbucks)
- no chocolate except for white chocolate
- no foods that have MSG in them (and MSG is EVERYWHERE. once you start reading labels, you understand how prevalent that stuff is)
- no processed meats that have nitrates or nitrites; no hotdogs, lunchmeat, hams, sausage, or bacon with nitrates
- aged cheese are not allowed, such as cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella. the only cheeses I can have are cottage, American, and ricotta. I also can’t have yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream
- no nuts of any kind, including nut butters. seeds are okay
- no red wine or champagne
- clear vinegar is okay, but other vinegars are not
- citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, limes, pineapples, clementines and their juices. also can’t have bananas, raspberries, red plums, avocados, figs, dates
- no raisins and no dried fruits if they are preserved with sulfites
- onions are not allowed
- less than one day old bread, homemade bread, bagels, doughnuts (all of them have to be at least a day old)
- soy products as well, like soy protein that is in a lot of processed items and soy sauce
So that is my list of what I can’t eat. It’s been tough. I haven’t been able to eat a lot of fast food because of all the MSG and preservatives and believe it or not, I don’t really miss it. I think once you detox your body from that stuff, it’s easier. I do, however, miss things like feta cheese and peanut butter. Seriously, I would give my right arm for some peanut butter right now. And heaven help me if it turns out to be a migraine trigger.