Healthy eating, good nutrition, and other things your mother told you to do
A small bunny munching on a single lettuce leaf. Is this the picture in your mind when you think of healthy eating? It doesn’t have to be that dire. Healthy eating can be fun and tasty!! It is true that you get out what you put into your body. We are capable of so many things but we have to start with the right building blocks. If we fill our stomachs with greasy fast food and mounds of sugar, we are going to feel sluggish, unmotivated, and weak. If we make good choices and fuel our activities with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, we are able to run, jump, plan, create and soar to our highest dreams. When our bodies are filled with junk; it leads to inflammation or, in other words, our body’s way of fighting back. This inflammation throughout our bodies can lead to many problems including our focus today, migraines.
There are also foods that can trigger migraines. Nitrates are one of the biggest triggers. Nitrates can be found in foods such as bacon, hot dogs, and aged cheeses like parmesan. MSG can be a trigger for patients and can be found in many processed foods. Aspartame and other artificial sugars can trigger migraines as well. So be wary of diet or “light” foods because they are often sweetened with these artificial sweeteners and can inadvertently trigger a migraine. For some, a sensitivity to gluten can trigger migraines even if they do not have a full-blown gluten allergy. I do not encourage all patients to go gluten-free, although it is much more pleasurable than it used to be. However, if you keep your headache diary and notice a connection to carb-heavy, gluten foods then you might want to cut back on it first and see if it helps. Sometimes just decreasing how often we eat a trigger food is enough and moderation works. Sometimes you just have to cut that food out altogether. Avoiding these foods will decrease the number of migraines a person may have in a month, sometimes down to a very rare frequency if done in accordance with avoiding other triggers as well.
The best way to try to figure out triggers like these is to keep a headache diary. You can go fancy with an app on your phone or old school with a piece of paper, either way track your headaches’ severity, headache frequency and your diet. This will allow you to see patterns and figure out the trigger. Good luck!! And don’t go crazy. Sometimes there isn’t a trigger to be found.