I never realized how easy it would be to discover which foods trigger my migraines. I’m not referring to the process of figuring out what to eat instead, which has required a lot of time and hard work. However, determining the scope of what I am dealing with has been so easy that I don’t know why a medical professional didn’t suggest it sometime during the 15 years that I have been struggling with migraines and looking for help.
For a really long time, I didn’t realize that foods were even an issue. I just kept going to doctors and physical therapists thinking that the rabbit trails we were going down with exercises and medications must eventually work, because these people knew about this stuff I was paying them to know about – right? I did have a doctor recommend that I stop eating wheat, which reduced my overall body pain, and for that I am thankful.
About 5 years ago, chocolate became something that I didn’t want after I had a hallucination within an hour of eating it. Caffeine decided that it no longer even wanted to stay in my body – or maybe it was my body that didn’t want the caffeine in it anymore after 20 years. I literally just couldn’t “stomach” it anymore. The logical part of my brain reasoned that human-created substances added to food simply couldn’t be good for me since God designed my body and the food that that would fuel it. So, I stopped eating processed foods. While elimination of wheat, chocolate, caffeine, and additives helped with my overall health, I continued to have migraines, vertigo, heart palpitations, fatigue, periods of brain fog, and severe neck and upper back pain. At this point I really didn’t think that other foods could trigger migraines since I was still having them after eliminating some foods; I don’t know why I considered chocolate, caffeine, and additives to be “foods,” but wheat certainly is:) So, I mistakenly thought that foods were not a problem for me.
However, as I discussed here, last fall I remembered someone telling me a long time ago that she couldn’t eat tomatoes since her head always hurt after she ate them. Internet searching revealed many lists of foods that have the potential to do this. So, I made a list and eliminated 3 or 4 of the items – I still had migraines. I eliminated another one – I still had migraines. I had to conclude 1 of 2 things – either food was not the issue or I hadn’t found all (or any) of the triggers yet. Since I had spent 15 years in the “food isn’t my trigger” camp, I decided that the other conclusion was worthy of consideration. As Buchholz points out in Chapter 4 of his book, “Heal Your Headache,” it is very difficult to figure out which foods trigger migraines without eliminating everything on the list at first to gain pain control. Once this has been achieved, one food item at a time can be attempted to see if it triggers a migraine. In this way, if I have a migraine following a food trial, I’m not left wondering, “Was it the beans I had 2 nights ago, the banana I had for breakfast, or the cheese in my salad dressing?” I know exactly what to target, because there is only 1 thing it could be at any given time. Admittedly, weather changes and fragrances are also triggers for me, but I simply don’t try to reintroduce a food on a day that these things are also present. Now, weather changes and fragrances are the only triggers I have, and the resulting migraines no longer include vertigo and heart palpitations:)
The detective work involved in figuring out triggers is neither quick nor pleasant. However, it is quicker, less painful, and more conclusive when the potential triggers are eliminated all together and reintroduced one at a time. Some people may even find that no foods are triggering their migraines! However, if you’re still having migraines, wouldn’t it be great to know for sure? What if there is a food trigger in there waiting to be rooted out so that you could feel better able to do what you are called to do each day?
I don’t know if the following information is helpful to anyone, but it is a list of where I currently stand with my food triggers. My recipes reflect this list.
Wheat (not currently able to eat)
Chocolate (will never try to reintroduce!)
Caffeine (will never try to reintroduce!)
Additives (not currently eating any)
Dairy (not currently able to eat)
Nuts (eat a small portion of almonds 1x/week with this recipe – my treat:))
Eggs (1 migraineur in the family is able to eat, but the other is not)
Beans (will never try to reintroduce because this is a vicious trigger for me)
Onions (able to use broth that contains onions, but I don’t eat onion otherwise)
Citrus (not currently able to eat)
Raspberries (not currently able to eat)
Tomatoes (not currently able to eat)
Apples (not currently eating but plan to try again soon)
Bananas (not currently able to eat)
Yeast (let homemade yeast bread sit 24 hours before eating or freezing)
Vinegar (only able to eat distilled white vinegar)
Soy (not currently able to eat)
Avocados (not currently able to eat)
Alcohol (haven’t had in a long time and don’t plan to reintroduce)
Corn (successfully reintroduced:))