So over the last 2-3 months my migraines have more than halved in frequency, duration and intensity. It has given me a new lease of life and I am finally beginning to get my life back. Over the past few years during my quest for health, nothing, and I repeat NOTHING has given me anywhere close to such results as this. Not Botox, nerve injections, medications, supplements or chiropractic therapy to name a few. So for me this is a BIG deal and I believe it can help migraine sufferers all around the world by preventing attacks with diet alone.
So let’s get down to the basics. As migraineurs we all try to avoid our individual food triggers – cheese, chocolate, red wine maybe? But perhaps there is more to it than just avoiding our triggers? Perhaps there is more we can be doing to aid prevention and tackle the problem at the source and not just dealing with the effect.
Ok, so what do all these foods have in common apart from being migraine triggers?
- Cheese and dairy products such as yoghurt, milk, cream and butter
- Processed meats such as ham, pepperoni, bacon and hot dogs
- Fresh bakery products such as muffins, croissants and biscuits
- Desserts containing aspartame, nutrisweet or just plain old refined sugar
- Fast foods and such as pizza, burgers and chips
- Meat such as lamb, beef, pork and poultry
- Good old fashioned eggs
- Gluten products such as pasta and bread
- Foods containing processed oils such as potato chips and crackers
These are all classed as pro-inflammatory foods which means they increase inflammation inside the body. Now let’s look at this list of foods below:
- Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, broccoli, cabbage, iceberg lettuce, mustard greens
- Legumes such as chick pea’s and lentils
- Seeds such as sesame, pumpkin, hemp, flax, chia and quinoa
- Spices such as garlic, turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon and chilli’s
- Herbs such as basil, thyme and rosemary
- Nuts such as walnuts and almonds
- Naturally gluten-free grains such as brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, teff and millet
- Vegetables such as beetroot, mushrooms, sweet potato or butternut squash
- Fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, pomegranate, apples or cherries
- Good old fashioned water
These are all anti-inflammatory foods which help to lower inflammation in the body. Now answer me this. Have any of the foods from the list above ever caused you to have a migraine? I will be surprised if your answer is yes. I’ve never heard anyone say to me “Dam that sweet potato, it gave me a migraine!” Oh and the other thing, did you see any meat, dairy or fish in the above list? No, because they’re not actually essential in our diets. You see, a quality plant-based diet high in nutrients, minerals and phytonutrients undercuts inflammation, thereby causing our disease-producing genes to turn off and our healing genes to switch on. Dr Barry Sears known for The Zone Diet has done plenty of research in this area. He advises that our hormones are ten times more powerful than any drug we can put inside our body and that food activates our hormones. So if we use food correctly it can be used as an extremely powerful medicine for the body. Makes sense really doesn’t it?
Did you also know that inflammation is the foundation for most chronic diseases such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, allergies, cancer and obesity. Now, what’s to say migraine doesn’t fall under this category too? After all, it is a chronic disease. Now I know I am not a scientist, but could it be that simple? Eliminate the pro-inflammatory foods from your diet and at the same time replace them with an abundance of healthy and nutritious plant-based foods that aid healing and regeneration of the body and I wonder what will happen? Well, I can tell you as I am proof. Great things can happen.
You see, I always thought I was being really good avoiding cheese, chocolate and wine, but little did I know that by eating those low-fat crisps, that sugar filled yogurt for breakfast and a ginormous plate of pasta to comfort me when I had a migraine that I was actually only making matters worse for myself. Anti-inflammatory diets have been proven to work and heal disease but how have we never used this or even considered it for migraines before? Surely it’s something migraine researchers should be looking into? Maybe the answer isn’t always a magic pill that western medicine seems to focus on all the time. Perhaps it’s much simpler than that.
So now you might be asking “What can I eat?” and “oh god, does that now mean I’m now going to be a vegan?” Personally I like the term “flexiterian’ meaning I eat a plant-based diet the 90% of the time but for the other 10% I can be flexible with this and throw in a steak now and again just because! So through trial and error and very gradually taking out the bad guys and increasing the good guys I have come to love my new diet. I no longer even think of it as a diet, I am just giving my body the foods it has always wanted. I’ll give you a quick rundown on a normal week for me so you have some idea of how to make this work.
Breakfast – My favourite meal and still is. So I will either have a smoothie made with different fruits and some sort of greenery like spinach or kale, with some chia seeds and water to hydrate. Alternatively some chia pudding or gluten-free oats made with almond milk, berries and raw honey. Nice and easy see!
Lunch – Normally I will have homemade soup or a huge salad alternating between different lettuces, homemade humus, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, beans, lentils, quinoa, rice, nuts and even fruit. Try it, it’s actually delicious.
Snack O’clock – Some homemade banana and chia seed bread, an apple and dunked in almond butter or carrots and hummus.
Dinner – I have discovered a variety of delicious dishes ranging from Spanish chick pea stew, peanut and aubergine curry, vegetable shepherds pie, sweet potato and bean stew, Mexican chilli and zucchini noodles with cashew cream sauce. The list goes on and on.
Drinks – I have been very good in this area and I only drink water to hydrate myself other than the one cup of tea a day I allow myself. Usually camomile or redbush (caffeine free).
Now don’t worry, you don’t have to dive straight into this at 100 miles per hour. It took me a couple of months to change my eating habits so be kind to yourself and just start with some small changes. Perhaps start with one aspect like cutting out dairy and swap to a plant-based milk, or even just cut out processed foods to start with and see how you go. Little changes go a long way. Good luck migraineurs!
#Migraine #Nutrition #PlantBasedDiet #FoodIsMedecine