Monitoring Your Diet to Determine Migraine Triggers
I’m sharing my personal migraine story in partnership with Promius Pharma as a paid spokesperson. The story, thoughts, and opinions below are expressly my own. Promius Pharma is not responsible for any other content on this site.
I’m very aware of myself and how certain things affect my body. Food, in particular, is a sensitive subject for me, especially in relation to migraine attacks. The hardest part about my diet is avoiding items that trigger my migraine attacks. At 40 years old, I believe that I can comfortably name the most likely causes of my migraine attacks.
Still, I know that it’s impossible to know all my triggers because they often change over time. For example, I wasn’t always sensitive to sulfites, yet, after my third child, I’m now unable to consume items that contain it, like wine. Dealing with these changing triggers has been a struggle, but I’ve learned to adjust.
I know that my current dietary migraine attack triggers are avoidable, but tomorrow they may change. Like the different migraine monsters I deal with, I have accepted the fact that I will always need to stay on top of my symptoms as they too are variable. For now, I am monitoring how I feel after I eat different types of food to better manage my migraine attacks.
My current dietary migraine triggers include:
- Wine and champagne (one drink of hard alcohol is fine–anything more than that will result in a migraine)
- Asian-themed food/soy sauce/products with MSG
- Processed food
- Some cheeses
- Fast food
- Any sugar-free substitute—an absolute no-no for me
Does this mean that I can never order Chinese food for the family? No. I limit my intake and prepare for the migraine-related consequences. When I know that I am eating something that my body is certain to disagree with, I make sure that I drink plenty of water. I feel like it helps minimize my migraine attacks.
The best thing to do is to avoid migraine trigger foods at all cost. Obviously, that isn’t always so easy. When I am cooking at home for my family, I very rarely use pre-packaged meals or boxes. Everything I make is fresh. I stick to the basics when putting together a meal because:
- I want to ensure that I am giving my family wholesome and healthy food.
- I want to limit processed food from our diet and health plans (especially since it limits the risk of a migraine attack)
Other Migraine Triggers Relating to Drinking / Eating
I know I should work to get my body to no longer need caffeine, but I’m not quite there yet. Every morning, if I don’t get my cup of tea or coffee nice and early, I experience a severe migraine before noon. I can’t have that. If I am on the road and somehow nowhere near any coffee or tea locations, I will grab ANYTHING that has caffeine—even a soda—to help ensure that I don’t suffer from one of those migraine monster attacks. While I don’t want to drink soda regularly, a girl has to do what a girl has to do to avoid the pain of a migraine.
The Importance of Being Prepared
No matter what I do, I know that a migraine attack from food is bound to happen sometimes. Like I’ve said, you can’t avoid every single migraine trigger when you leave your house on any sort of regular basis. For me personally, it wouldn’t be possible. So instead, I make sure that I am prepared for an oncoming migraine by working with my neurologist to develop a migraine management plan.
Staying informed, being prepared, and listening to your body are the main keys to devising a plan of action. When I first realized that food was a huge migraine trigger for me, I started a journal and wrote everything down, even the details of my morning coffee or tea order. How many flavor pumps? What kind of milk? With or without ice? I left no stone unturned. It was only then, once I was equipped with the right information, that I was able to truly pinpoint migraine trigger patterns. I realized that I would get a MASSIVE migraine after having hibachi with my family. I realized that I was horrifically allergic to one of the syrups at my favorite coffee place. I even realized that the sugar-free lemonade that I LOVED TO DRINK was making me sick and giving me headaches when I drank too much at once. Everything made sense once I had a clear picture in place. It’s not hard to do: you can grab an actual notebook or jot notes down on your phone (we BOTH know that you don’t go anywhere without your cell phone). Remember, these are my personal migraine triggers; your triggers may be similar or different.
Also, it’s important to be prepared for the migraines you can’t avoid by making dietary changes alone. While we shouldn’t have to live with severe headaches, there are ways to be prepared and manage them! There are effective treatments on the market, including some that may work as quickly as ten minutes. Make an appointment with your doctor today to discuss how to treat migraine attacks that aren’t caused by easily identifiable triggers. Be sure to learn more about migraine attacks and treatment options on websites like NoTime4Migraines.com before your appointment. Armed with information, you can work together to create a personal migraine prevention and relief plan that addresses your specific needs.