The Anti-inflammatory Diet and Migraines: Follow-Up
Last month, I wrote about the anti-inflammatory diet and its benefit for migraines.
At that time, I had been “prescribed” this diet by an integrative medicine doctor.
I had since adopted an “80/20” mentality when it came to this diet – meaning that I attempted to follow the diet guidelines at least 80% of the time while eating what I wanted the remaining 20% of the time (mainly pizza on Thursdays and croissants on Saturday mornings with my family.)
So, how am I doing?
Happily, I have great news to report!
As you may recall, I am 31 years old and have been getting migraines and tension headaches since I was 12 years old – almost 20 years.
I have tried nearly every type of medication available for migraines, as well as massage with craniosacral therapy, yoga, and chiropractic care. I even recently started acupuncture.
Most of these things work – to some degree. I find that medication works, but eventually, the effectiveness wears off. Massage works – but I need to get a massage at least monthly. Yoga works – to reduce my anxiety. You get the picture.
Which is why, after about 20 years, I am still suffering from chronic headaches.
So you can bet when this doctor asked me to readjust my diet to “fix” my problems, I was skeptical. What could changing my diet do that taking a medication couldn’t.
As it turns out – a lot.
I swapped out my morning bagel and cream cheese for a couple of eggs topped with half a mashed avocado and salsa and a side of berries.
Lunch is often a salad or a sandwich on sprouted grain bread, topped with tuna and hummus, paired with a banana or an apple.
Dinner is frequently a chicken breast with some type of vegetable and perhaps some brown rice or sweet potatoes.
Snacks (because let’s get real – I’m a snacker) are Greek yogurt with honey and berries, fruit and peanut butter, and occasionally cheese sticks.
My vice? Coffee.
I have not been unable to swap out coffee for tea (although I may have a cup of tea mid-afternoon instead of the third cup of joe). I have cut out the sugar that I add to my coffee though! Baby steps.
This isn’t that hard – because the food is good. And I don’t restrict myself. The important thing that I keep in mind is that this isn’t something that I need to do all the time – in fact, I eat cake on birthdays.
If I want dessert at a restaurant, I order it. And beer? Yes, I still drink it because I don’t love red wine (in fact, I am likely to have an anaphylactic reaction if I drink it!)
Before I started this so-called “diet,” we adopted “pizza Thursdays” and “donut Saturdays” at our house. And I still partake in these family traditions. I just don’t go so far off of my plan that I end up with a migraine.
How do I know it works for me? After all, if you’re like me, your headaches probably ebb and flow – sometimes they’re awful, and sometimes, well, you may not have a headache for a while.
Here’s how I now that the anti-inflammatory diet works.
Last week we went camping. To save money on our trip, I bought bread that I don’t usually eat, lunch meat that is full of nitrates, and hot dogs. I drank beer daily. I ate the best scone of my life at a local bakery. I did not drink enough water so I could avoid the outhouse.
All of these little things that may not be a big issue, except they culminated together into one weekend. And I ended up with one of the worst headaches I’ve had in months.
And now, I’m in damage control mode, picking up the pieces of that one little weekend.
I can’t vouch for everyone, but if you suffer from migraines (or any chronic pain disorder), I strongly advocate that you try the anti-inflammatory diet.
Speak to your physician, and if they give you the go-ahead, you’ve got nothing to lose – except maybe, your pain.