A Balanced Diet -Living with Migraines
There are over 60 triggers to a headache, and not eating may have twice the impact (57%) then the actual foods you eat (27%). Spikes in blood sugar levels may trigger migraines; therefore, eating 3 regular meals, as well as snacks spaced out throughout the day can help prevent migraines.
Following a few simple steps by planning out quick meals can keep you ahead of your migraine triggers. It can also help you make the best food choices, including eating more fresh and less processed foods so you can eat healthily while timing your meals appropriately.
A helpful guide in learning how to follow a well-balanced diet is MyPlate, the healthy eating guide made by the United States Department of Agriculture and found at MyPlate.gov. Here are some general principles to follow:
- Think of your plate containing four sections: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins
- Fruits and vegetables should fill half the plate and grains and protein should fill the other half of the plate
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that offer an array of colors to ensure a range of nutrients.
- Go lean with protein. Choose protein options such as beans, omega-3 rich seafood, lean meats like skinless chicken or turkey, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Avoid processed meats that contain nitrates, like most lunchmeats or hotdogs.
- MyPlate suggests making at least half of your grains, whole. Why not aim for more since whole grains fuel your body and provide the needed nutrients to combat chronic disease? Start your day with oatmeal or include more whole grains with whole wheat lavash bread/pita, corn tortillas or brown rice. Include low-fat dairy, (ideally RgBh free or organic) at some meals, with skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Many of the Greek yogurts contain less added sugar. Always choose reduced fat or low-fat cheese. If you do not consume dairy products include other sources of calcium like fortified soy milk, fortified orange juice, kale or broccoli.
- Limit salts, solid fats, and added sugars. Choose heart healthy oils, like grape seed, olive or canola oil (for canola choose organic or Non-GMO) and limit the amounts you use when cooking.
- Balance your calories by enjoying your foods while eating in moderation — avoid oversized portions.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
- Move your body. Balance your food intake and physical activity.
Not sure what an appropriate meal plan looks like? Check out this schedule:
- Eat 3 meals a day with 1-2 snacks in between, trying to eat about every 4 hours: 8 am, 12 am, 3 pm, 6 pm (or whatever time works with your schedule)
- 1 cup Whole grain cereal
- ½ cup fat free milk
- 1 medium banana
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 tsp fat free tub margarine
- 1 (8 inch) flour tortilla
- 1 scrambled egg
- ⅓ cup black beans or kidney beans
- 1 cup honeydew melon
- 1 cup herbal tea
- 3 ounces sliced lean turkey breast
- 2 slices whole wheat bread
- 2 slices tomato
- ¼ cup shredded lettuce
- 1 tsp mustard
- ½ ounce low-fat cheese or a couple slices of avocado
Beverage: 1 cup water, coffee, or tea (unlimited throughout the day)
- 3 tbsp hummus with ½ cup baby carrots
- Spinach lasagna roll-ups:1 cup lasagna noodle (2 oz dry)
- ½ cup cooked spinach
- ½ cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 1 ounce whole wheat roll
- 1 tsp tub margarine (make sure it contains no hydrogenated fats and utilizes mostly, canola or olive oil in ingredients verses palm oil)
- Beverage: 1 cup fat-free milk
- Apple slices
- An ounce of walnuts or almonds (if they are not a migraine trigger)
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?