Living with Migraines

Hello Friends!

Many of you know that I am a frequent sufferer of migraines. In my fight against headaches I have done acupuncture, practiced yoga, suffered through massages (haha), gotten cranial sacral therapy, and experimented with many more treatments that we don’t need to discuss on the internet. 😉

About fifteen years ago, my migraines were totally out of control, and I had a pretty much constant headache. Today, I only have headaches about once a week, and they are well treated by prescription medications. (Thank you, Maxalt!)

Getting my headaches under control was a multi-year battle that took a lot of work. I’ve learned that I need to get regular sleep, can’t watch movies in theaters because of the lighting, and definitely can’t watch fireworks. One of the most important things I learned is the value of a migraine-friendly diet. I’m always amazed when I talk to people who suffer from migraines when I learn that they don’t know how significant food triggers can be, and how much of a reduction in their headaches they might be able to achieve by eliminating certain foods.

Given that I’ve been living with this for so long, and so many fellow writers are sufferer of migraines, I thought maybe it would be worthwhile for me to share some of my food suggestions and tips, and maybe even a few recipes.

So, this will be the first of other blogs, maybe with some regularity if you all find them helpful.

I’ll start with the basics: food can trigger migraines. The trigger mechanisms vary enormously, so I’ll just summarize some of the most common triggers for migraine sufferers:

-red wine
-MSG
-aged cheeses (basically anything other than cream cheese, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella)
-citrus fruits
-ripe bananas
-processed meats (particularly those containing nitrates or nitrites)
-nuts
-chocolate

Basically, if it’s fun, it’s on the list! Ha! Seriously, if you want a comprehensive list of potential triggers, this list from the University of California at Berkeley was my Bible when I first started trying to identify my own triggers. Be aware that triggers are different for each person. My biggest triggers (that I’ve identified) are LIMES, PASSION FRUIT, AGED CHEESE, WINE, and PEANUTS. You may find that you are particularly sensitive to certain foods at certain times–triggers work in combination with each other, so peanuts may be a trigger for you on a day when you haven’t gotten enough sleep, or are at the wrong point in your monthly hormonal cycle, or also have a chocolate bar. This sucks, because it makes it harder to identify your triggers.

But if you’re a migraine sufferer, like me, you’ll probably find it’s worth eliminating ripe bananas rather than suffer a migraine.

I hope this was helpful–look for more recipes and tips in the future!