Food cravings

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  • #40422
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    Editorial Team
    Participant

    Welcome to the Food cravings Forum

  • #42080
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    Ellen
    Participant

    I know I’m headed for a monster Migraine attack when I start craving certain foods. Sometimes I just get ravenously hungry – that is a lot easier to deal with. My personal cravings include terrible things I shouldn’t touch like:

    * Doritos
    * Sweets
    * Soda (especially colas)
    * Cheese

    I also often crave chocolate, but luckily, a high quality dark chocolate in small amounts will sometimes actually stop a Migraine that is just on the cusp.

    What are your cravings? Do you indulge them or try to ignore them?

    Cravings are sometimes the first recognizable sign a Migraine is on its way. Do you use it as a cue to take your medicine?

  • #42081
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    Teri-Robert
    Participant

    You know, one of the things that irritates the daylights out of me is the food cravings that go with my Migraines. Thankfully, I don’t have any food triggers, but I have to watch what I eat because of diabetes and heart disease.

    Could the Migraines make it easy on me and create cravings for things that are good for me? Nooooooooo waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy. Instead, I crave carby things – pasta, chips, sweets.

    I try to keep some no-sugar-added Fudgesicles in the freezer. Sometimes, that will work.

    Like you, Ellen, the cravings generally start during prodrome. Ugh!!

  • #42082
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Teri – Someone once told me (wish I could remember who) that carb cravings had something to do with serotonin levels. Have you ever heard that before??

  • #42083
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    Val Milo
    Participant

    salt, salt, salt…Lay’s Limon chips are usually irresisible if I’m at the store and a migraine is coming on. A Fudgesicle sounds great right now! BUT I avoid the artificial sweeteners like the plague, they are a major trigger for me.

  • #42084
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    Ellen
    Participant

    VAL MILO I am the same way with artificial sweetener. Even the little bit in my meds is often enough to send me over the edge.

    Limon chips sound heavenly….. heavenly sinful that is. I’m sure they’re loaded with all kinds of things we shouldn’t have, MSG included. Still, that sounds WONDERFUL!

    Do you use your cravings to anticipate the need for quick meds?

  • #42085
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Something kind of odd – never have figured it out really…

    When I am in postdrome – the pain is gone, but there is still some nausea lingering. The only thing I can eat are… get this…

    ** Lime popsicles, Kool-aid etc

    ** Fried potatoes with ketchup – French fries, hash browns, whatever. Always with salt and ketchup.

    Go figure.

    Anyone else experience something like this??

  • #42086
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    sheepwriter
    Participant

    It took me a while to pick up on the fact that an overwhelming desire to eat (almost anything) and specific cravings signal a migraine. Donuts or potato chips….either one is a reliable sign for me. However, it’s hard for me to justify taking something without having an actual migraine – somehow it seems like abusing drugs. I think my doctor would back me up on taking something amidst a craving – will definitely ask next time I’m there.

  • #42087
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    Ellen
    Participant

    SHEEPWRITER,

    Almost every doctor will back that up.

    The idea is, if we take our medications as soon as we know we’re getting a Migraine, the chances of being able to stop it is increased. In fact, the sooner you take it, the more effective it usually is!

  • #42088
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    sheepwriter
    Participant

    Thanks…now that I think of it, I remember a doctor telling me (years ago when I was teenager) about taking gut pain meds … “don’t wait until you’re rolling around on the floor in pain -take it as soon as you think you need to so it can WORK!”

  • #42089
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    Ellen
    Participant

    SHEEPWRITER, YES you’ve got it!

    I think the trick with food cravings is that we get them other times too. It can be hard to distinguish a Migraine craving from say – a PMS craving, allergy craving or other type of craving. That’s another good case for Migraine journaling!

  • #42090
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    Karen
    Participant

    I don’t have any particular cravings before a migraine, but after, I need to have salt. Potato chips are my go to… I used to need a caffeinated soda, too, but that craving has faded, for some reason.

  • #42091
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    sheepwriter
    Participant

    This whole discussion is making me feel so much less weird!! I just downed a couple handfuls of tortilla chips (salt) and am headed for a coke refill (sugar/carb). Don’t care that it isn’t the best stuff to eat/drink and I won’t feel guilty later. When I have a migraine, it’s about me and whatever it takes to feel better. There…I said it. It’s about ME.

  • #42092
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    Karen
    Participant

    Sheepwriter,

    I said in the “migraines make me feel.. ” and I will reiterate here, that in no way should you feel guilty. You have to accept yourself for who you are and the people who love you will accept this. If they don’t, they will either learn to or they won’t. Their notions shouldn’t influence the person you are. It can hurt but you have a disease, and you are seeking relief… is that so different from someone with any other kind of disease?

  • #42093
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Karen – you’re right too – no guilt here. This is a guilt-free zone! This is all about Migraine and what our different experiences are like.

    The only thing I want to be sure and caution about is giving in to cravings that are trigger foods. For me, my cravings are almost always trigger foods. This ends up bad for me – I will end up with another Migraine attack if I am not careful.

  • #42094
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    sheepwriter
    Participant

    It’s only me who would make me feel guilty. My hub doesn’t really understand migraines, but he’s very understanding of the pain and how I feel, and thankfully, he does whatever he can to help.

    I have to learn to not be so stoic. It isn’t a contest to see if I can withstand the migraine. Others are usually more understanding ‘for’ me than I am for myself. But I’m getting better :-)

  • #42096
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    Patyduke72
    Participant

    I ALWAYS crave Pizza or Macaroni & Cheese & Coke. I, too have to have french fries, especially McDonald’s when I’m in Postdrome stage. I have found over the years that they seem to come a week or two before my “Cycle”. I have tried “BC” and various other Meds and really Treximet has helped the most and of course my Insurance wont cover that so its back to generic Imitrex. I get REALLY nauseated when I take this as if the nausea with a Miagraine isnt enough. TY Ellen for sharing Ur story with us. It makes me feel more “normal.” Men just dont seem to understand. I wonder why it is that mostly women suffer from miagraines. Any ideas to help with the nausea when I have to take an Imitrex generic?

  • #42097
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    Elaine Gross
    Participant

    I never crave food before a migraine, and a lot of the time my first symptom is nausea. At the end of my migraines I usually always crave ice cream. It always makes me feel better. And I always put whipped cream on top.

  • #42098
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    Karen
    Participant

    Ellen,

    I am soooo careful about my trigger foods, I am allergic to many foods, including wheat, I would love to have a bagel or a glazed donut, but prefer to be healthy-ish. I do find that most of my migraines are food-related now that I am perimenopausal. At least there’s something to look forward to (hot flashes are no fun).

  • #42099
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    Karen
    Participant

    Sheepwriter,

    There’s a term they use in yoga, “ahimsa.”. It literally means “do no harm,” but what it translates to is being kind to yourself (and others). It’s being able to be compassionate to yourself. Try thinking about it, it helps in coping…

  • #42100
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    Cyn
    Participant

    The revelation of food cravings has been great insight for me. I always thought I fell into some kind of manic state to eat until I found the magical thing that cured my migraine. It is easy for the world to tell us when we have a migraine that we need to eat something and we’ll feel better that I bought into that whole concept. Now I have to work consciously to tell myself that my migraine isn’t from hunger (if I’ve eaten in the last four hours) and that what I’m experiencing is a food craving as a result of the migraine. It still makes it hard not to crave the foods, but the knowledge that it is a craving and not a need is powerful.

  • #42101
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    Ellen
    Participant

    SHEEPWRITER, being stoic is sometimes necessary to survival. It does add stress to our already suffering bodies though. If you would like, there is a thread here about Quality Of Life that would really benefit from a discussion on Stoicism. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/olFGhe

  • #42102
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Karen – I like that… Do no harm. That is very different from self-indulgence when we feel badly. Be kind to ourselves. That shouldn’t be so hard. Why is it so?

  • #42103
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    Ellen
    Participant

    So then, if you all could tell a newly diagnosed Migraineur, or perhaps a family member or boss something about food cravings so that they could understand better what drives us…

    What would it be?

  • #42104
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    jay
    Participant

    Ok, I’m late to the party.

    Have no prodrome cravings,…

    but postdrome… WHOA!
    It’s gotta be “Simply Orange” orange juice. No I mean, I will go out in the middle of the night to get that brand, With the OJ, I usually wind up drinking about half of the bottle in a couple of hours.

    Donno why. I also crave twizzlers, or any gummy candy.

    I’ve found that regular coke is pure happiness one I’ve gotten to the aura stage, and can sometimes keep the nausea down long enough to get some Zofran ODT in me,

    Before the Migraines went chronic again, I didn’t notice how much more expensive that brand of orange juice was than store brands… now i’m wondering if I can fool myself by pouring regular juice into that bottle, lol.

  • #42105
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    Woo
    Participant

    In prodrome I crave chocolate, chips, strong cheese, sugary carbs… In postdrome the first thing I eat once the nausea and severe pain have subsided, is canned pears or peaches; then I have hot rice cereal, and later, white rice with feta cheese. Every time! So great to read all your posts!

  • #42106
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Jay – you and my daughter have something in common. She LOVES that brand, and only that brand!

  • #42107
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Woo- For the first time ever, I ate a whole can of peaches when the nausea dissipated. I don’t even LIKE pears! Had hubs buy me 5 different kinds of fresh pears just to try them out. Oy vey!

  • #42108
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Cyn, I think one of the great things about this site is when we find that we really aren’t alone in some of the things that might seem so strange as food cravings.

    I don’t think that my Menopause situation has altered my cravings much, but then again, I just had pears for the first time, and before that I didn’t even like them. Go figure! ;)

  • #42109
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    Ellen
    Participant

    So, the question – do carb cravings have anything to do with serotonin – has been answered!

    Here is a PubMed abstract that explains that serotonin levels are greatly impacted by carb intake. http://1.usa.gov/nSz897 Excess carb intake is the body’s way of “self medicating” for a number of serotonin related conditions.

    Remember, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has been highly implicated in the Migraine process. For more information on neurotransmitters: http://bit.ly/nhd3gl

  • #42110
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    Diana-Lee
    Participant

    Carbs, carbs, carbs and more carbs. Which is especially problematic considering that I’m a Type 2 diabetic! Especially stuff like bread, honey mustard pretzels, bagels and the like.

    That research explains a lot.

  • #42111
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    lanettem
    Participant

    OMG I recently have realized that I always have food cravings before my headaches. Most of which are hormonal related, I just figured they were pms symptoms. I have tried my best to ignore them the last 6 months and not give in and my headaches seem to go away faster. I crave salt, sweet and vinegar. Sometimes all at the same time…..I too get very nauseated from the generic version of imitrex. To the point where I get gaggy just thinking about taking the pill. It also makes my speech slurred as though I am drunk.My doctor said we could try other drugs but I have a $200 deductible for 9 pills then a $75 copay per refill. I have neither for the generic imitrex. Any suggestions?

  • #42112
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    amrita
    Keymaster

    Hi Lanettem, Unfortunately it’s difficult to find cost-effective ways to use branded medications when a generic option is available. We have an offer center on Migraine.com with discount coupons, however they are only valid for branded medications (http://migraine.com/offer-center/migraine-prescription-drug-coupons/). Perhaps you can ask your doctor about trying a different triptan that won’t be as costly for you?

  • #42113
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    Anonymous

    You would think with all the foods to avoid because of triggers,then I do not have prodome cravings,then suffer w/ the migraine for about 2 days w/ the vomitting you would think I would be a size 2.Wrong-my postdome is Cold Sprite or ginger ale because I lost so many fluids,now we are at day 5 and the appetite kicks into high gear.I feel that I should reward myself w/anything I can put in my body because of all the suffering I just went through.Very unhealthy high calorie foods and of course I have not moved in too many days to remember.Conclusion-weight gain-lucky me once again!!

  • #42114
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    Ellen
    Participant

    lindacastellano – Don’t be too hard on yourself. What you’re experiencing is really very common. Sometimes our bodies are able to tell us what they need with cravings. Sometimes we misread what our bodies are saying. Sometimes they are just misleading us. The trick is identifying where you fall during any given Migraine! It’s not so easy, is it?!

    It looks like you have a good handle on why you’re gaining weight. Not moving is also often a trigger for patients. Exercise is actually a really great preventive believe it or not, and a fabulous way to work off those extra calories to boot. http://bit.ly/yz6CdQ

  • #42115
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    jbinsley77
    Participant

    I realized a few months ago that I feel like I am starving. literally. that I could eat and eat and still be hungery about a day before I get a monster migraine. I told my neuro about it, and he gave me pheneghran and told me of course to take it as soon as I feel that way. that it might either stop the migraine totally or at least lessen the intensity. I also get borderline sick as well at times right before. (I am on Botox shots now but if I get the bad ones at the end of the shots I can’t have cheese or any alcohol at all)

  • #42116
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    fredawhite
    Participant

    i hardly ever crave sweets, but i do crave chocolate before & during my headache. i only keep dark chocolate in the fridge & it dosent take much, but we did get mounds minis for halloween & i’ve been eating 1 a day. they are dark choc. too. i had never associated this with my migrains until i read all you’re posts. thanks to all of you for bringing this to my attention, i have had all kinds of people say those 12 things to me. i’ve even had drs. say it was depression.

  • #42117
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    Ellen
    Participant

    fredawhite – It’s important to consider all the ingredients in what you’re eating. For example, a Mounds bar also has sugar, corn syrup, coconut, and all kinds of other things that could be your trigger. MSG is very difficult to stay away from and may even be in your candy/chocolate, and it is itself a potent Migraine trigger for most. It may not be the chocolate at all. In fact, chocolate (especially dark) can actually help some people’s Migraines.

  • #42119
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    tinallee
    Participant

    Thanks for all of your comments. I can’t seem to get enough carbs. Sometimes I shake and feel weak just like low blood sugar, (only it is not low) just prior to onset of migraine pain along with an unexplainable sleepiness regardless of how much sleep I have had. Usually that is just with hormone triggered migraines. The carbs do seem to help with the nausea.

  • #42120
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    Nancy Bonk
    Moderator

    I have some food triggers and haven’t noticed any cravings before a migraine. But do feel like comfort food after a migraine. It’s interesting how different we all are. My son can’t have any dark chocolate or a bad migraine will be triggered. A little milk chocolate and he is ok, but NO dark chocolate for him!

  • #42121
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    trishthompson
    Participant

    It makes me crave carbs too, but I do not eat gluten so I find it very challenging. I found that gluten and corn products are a major trigger for me so I have to be very careful when the cravings hit me. I generally go for some dark chocolate with almond butter to curb the craves, but I really just want chips and junk like that.

  • #42122
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    Nancy Bonk
    Moderator

    Hi Trish,

    I’ve been cutting out gluten as well and so far from what I can see when I added in a cookie or two over the holidays I got a few pimples! I hadn’t noticed how clear my skin was, I don’t have a real problem with my skin, but I wasn’t having any outbreaks at all being GF. So back to it I go. I haven’t tried almond butter yet, that is on my shopping list.

  • #42123
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    illinois247
    Member

    I don’t really have food cravings with my migraines but have found that eating something extremely hot (spicy) will actually take the edge off the migraine. Its odd Ive always liked spicy but now I can eat REALLY spicy. Try it only if your not sick to your stomach.

  • #42124
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    Nancy Bonk
    Moderator

    Hi illinois247

    Food cravings and triggers are “funny,” (not ha, ha funny) things when it comes to migraine. Some of us have them, others don’t.
    Capsaicin nose spray is actually used for migraine pain, Ellen wrote and article on it this year you can read about in this link, very interesting stuff! http://migraine.com/blog/migraine-treatment-experiences-capsaicin-nose-spray/

  • #42125
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    wordygirl
    Participant

    Has anyone experienced a change in perception of taste during a migraine? I have chronic migraines, and for the last month or so, sweet things have not tasted “right” to me. Usually, a very cold Coke is something that is comforting and seems to help a wee bit, but for the last month Coke has tasted wrong, even bad. I had a two day stretch when normal taste returned, and now it’s is starting to taste bad again. I haven’t had any change in my perception of spicy foods, salty foods, etc., but sweets & especially Coca Cola is “off”.

  • #42126
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    Nancy Bonk
    Moderator

    Hi wordygirl,

    Have your medications changed recently? Some medications will change the taste of carbonated beverages, especially Topamax.

  • #42127
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    Ellen
    Participant

    Hi wordygirl – My sense of salty often goes awry. Normally I don’t add any salt to my food, but especially lately I have noticed that I have added salt and not been able to really tell that I have added anything. Since eating salt can be a Migraine trigger for me, this isn’t a good thing. I don’t know if this is related more to my medicine, my Migraines, or something else entirely. I crave salt right now, and while I can’t taste it very well, this could be a bad thing I’m afraid. We’ll see how it goes.

    Coke is often really good for some Migraine patients to take/drink during a Migraine. There is something in the syrup that can help quell nausea, and the caffeine can act as a Migraine abortive for some of us. I too crave the taste while Migraining, but I’m not exactly sure if that’s because I associate it with Migraine relief, because I am deprived of it normally (I don’t drink it unless I’m using it as an abortive) or because I just flat out like it :) There’s the whole carbs/serotonin connection too that might play a part. It surely doesn’t help that hubs has Pepsi around the house at all times, lol.

  • #42128
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    wordygirl
    Participant

    Thanks for the insights. My medications hadn’t changed, but the dosages have been fluctuating so I’ll keep an eye on that and see if there’s a correlation, Nancy.

    I feel the same way about Coke during my migraines; I’ve turned to it so often when my migraines are raging that when it suddenly stopped tasting “right” I felt a real loss. In the couple of weeks since I posted, sweet things are starting to taste normal again, which is a relief. I have enough going on–I’d like to be able to rely on Coke tasting like Coke, for crying out loud. :) Thanks for the responses and the insights. I’m really glad I found this site and community.

  • #42129
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    Teania
    Participant

    First topic I’ve seen go to two pages.

    I’m gonna go with you guys talking about coca cola. I know it can be used for stopping a migraine but to me the only time I don’t feel sick when I drink it during a migraine, is when I get it from like Mcdonalds.

    Only because it hasn’t been sitting in a can for who knows how long, plus it’s kind of watered down AND it has ice! That’s what I want the most when I get sick. Ice, ice ice ice ice! Not even to just use cold therapy, but because chewing on it, I can trick my mind into thinking i’m eating so I don’t have to be hungry. Though during a migraine and even after it for a few days. I jsut don’t eat. I feel so sick during the migraine that I don’t eat and then afterwords I’m afraid that I’ll end up having another one.

    So yea I don’t think I’ve ever had a craving before a migraine. But I know when, just by smell, what i’m about to eat will give me a migraine. Especially pizza. If I smell the grease oh yea it’s bad. Though I do sometimes crave chocolate or jsut plain salt. But that’s sometimes with my period.

  • #44971
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    mbclink
    Participant

    My cravings happen after the pain of the migraine has subsided. During the pain, I usually have to drink Coke to settle my stomach. Oddly, this is the only time I do drink Coke. After the pain has left me, I always crave hamburgers and lots of them. They don’t even have to be the big burgers, but the little dollar burgers from McD’s, Wendy’s, or Hardee’s.

  • #46144
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    Mary Worth
    Participant

    My craving always when the worst is over and I’ve had Coke to settle my stomach. The only thing I want to finish off the lingering nausea is pizza; it has to be frozen California Pizza which isn’t heavy or greasy. Nothing else will work and I keep three on the freezer all the time. I don’t know what I’ll do if they quit selling them :(

    • #46185
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      Nancy Bonk
      Moderator

      Thanks for sharing Mary.

      It’s interesting that pizza helps with your nausea. I really can’t eat anything during a migraine or when I’m sick to my stomach.

      But during prodrome is another story. I usually crave carbs and love them – but I am now gluten free – and this is a problem finding substitutes. Sweet potato here I come!!

      Nancy :)

  • #46639
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    Michael Jensen
    Participant

    I just have strong hunger pangs as though I was starving or have eaten all day…as well as an incredible thirst with a very dry mouth. Very annoying combination.

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