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Adventures in Malnutrition

Adventures in Malnutrition

I’ve done some risky things out of desperation for migraine relief, but the latest — five months of malnutrition — might be the dumbest, most short-sighted, most harmful of them all. Malnutrition was the unintentional result of an elimination diet that left me feeling  trapped between the choice of debilitating migraines and functioning at 50% physical and mental capacity, which felt like heaven compared to what had become my norm.

Chronological order isn’t the most interesting way to tell a story, but it’s the only way to explain how a diet to identify migraine triggers spiraled into malnutrition.

There’s this weird aspect to my headaches and migraines that no doctor has been able to figure out: I feel worse every time I eat. Sometimes I get a migraine, other times I just feel headachy and fatigued. Because I always have head pain and have a migraine nearly every day, it’s hard to pinpoint specific foods as triggers.

For a year, I followed a standard migraine elimination diet and also avoided tannins. The pain and fatigue upon eating persisted and I was unable to find any definitive triggers. Then I learned that some foods contain histamine or can trigger a histamine release in the body. Since cyproheptadine, an antihistamine, is the most effective preventive for me, I began exploring a low-histamine diet as a treatment.

When that diet still didn’t change the migraines and headache, I tried a diet called Failsafe 1, which is low in amines (like tyramine, which is part of standard migraine elimination diets, and histamine), low in salicylates (a naturally occurring food chemical that some people have trouble with), and free of additives, flavor enhancers, and artificial colors and flavors. Failsafe is an extremely limited diet but is nutritionally sound.

Even on the Failsafe diet, I seemed to react to the allowed foods. I began whittling away at the diet until I was eating nothing but fresh chicken breasts cooked in safflower oil, unenriched white rice, and gluten-free oats. My head pain was better than it had been in years. I felt almost normal, which, for me, meant that I operated at about 50% many days. After more than a decade of debilitating chronic migraine, feeling so good was like an addictive drug.

The plan was to get stabilized, to establish my head pain and migraine frequency baseline on those few foods, then slowly reintroduce foods to see what I reacted to. Every food I tested seemed to provoke a reaction. I could never tell if the issue was a particular food, the act of eating, weather fluctuations, over-exerting during exercise, overheating, disturbed sleep, or some other untraceable migraine trigger. After each flare-up, I’d go back to the basic diet to get back to my baseline. This led to five months of eating almost exclusively chicken, white rice, and oats.

It led to malnutrition. Labs on eight vials of blood show that my body is responding as if I’m starving. Although I’m getting enough calories, they are low in nutrition. My blood work, which has been unfailingly perfect for my adult life except for slightly elevated cholesterol, shows elevated liver enzymes and thyroid hormones, low blood sugar, extremely high cholesterol, low folic acid, and a variety of other alarmingly “off” numbers.

I didn’t mean to eat this way for so long. I knew all along it was unsustainable, but I didn’t want to go back to debilitating migraines, especially when I could function so much better by eating this way. After a few months, I no longer felt as good as I did in the beginning. The migraines weren’t as severe as they were prior to malnutrition, but they still came almost daily. My fatigue and brain fog were even worse than when I started. I was irritable and moody and racked with guilt over what I’m doing to my body.

I wrote the previous paragraph in the past tense, but it’s all still true as I’m in a weird limbo state where I’m slowly reintroducing foods with the help of two health care professionals, a dietician and naturopath. I want to reintroduce foods systematically so I can test to see if any of them are triggers, but I continue to experience the same paralyzing frustration of not knowing if a food triggered the migraine or if the migraine would have happened anyway. I add a food and think it will be OK, then I’ll get a migraine the next day and am back to questioning.

I’ve shared this story not as an encouragement for you to try malnutrition — please don’t! — but to illustrate both what desperation for migraine relief can drive a person to and also the nebulous nature of migraine triggers. Handouts from doctors and online articles make it sound so straightforward: avoid X, Y and Z foods and you will have fewer migraine attacks. That works for some people, but not for many others.

Despite years of encouraging migraineurs to try to find food triggers by following a responsible diet, but to not beat themselves up if they don’t find any, I didn’t follow my own advice. Not only have I harmed my body by starving it, I wound up fearful of food from an experiment gone terribly awry. If you decide to try an elimination diet, please proceed carefully. If you find yourself frustrated and increasing your dietary restrictions, contact a dietician for guidance. Malnourishment and a fear of food are too high of a price to pay for migraine management.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

1 http://failsafediet.wordpress.com/

Comments

  • Livvy
    4 years ago

    Right now I am going through something very similar. I am actually eating organic soda crackers, organic light popcorn that comes pre cooked, a little bit of pretzels, a little bit of organic plain potato chips, lots and lots of water, no coffee or tea, & strangely have also been tolerating well this local store (Zingermans) gellatto ~ in vanilla, chocolate (which I know makes no sense but it’s been okay) and a few other all natural flavors. I found out gellatto has more water than regular ice cream and is lower fat. This is basically all I am eating for the last week and a half because I got sick again after eating green pears and some other vegetables. (I can’t even remember right now.) I tried a handfull of cashews and a tiny bit of cashew butter yesterday and woke with headache again. So I am back on soda crackers and water and feeling better.
    However, clearly I can’t just keep eating this way. Honestly at the moment I don’t care at all because I feel like I can breathe again (figuratively) think clearly and like my head shrank. I feel more happy and optomistic. I feel hopeful. Somehow I aborted this past days headache after a mere 12 hours by having one cup of espresso, drinking water and later eating a little soda crackers again. I can’t explain how well I feel though logic tells me I will have to eat veg and fruit again at some point.
    Right now my plan is to stabilize my body and calm down my mind and, well, I’m not really sure. I bought an electric wok and I’m thinking of making mini meals with very very small portions of limited stuff and then waiting to see if I can tolerate them.
    In the mean time I’ve ordered more gellatto. It may be a brief reprieve, but I’m enjoying eating ice cream and not being in pain.

  • Livvy
    4 years ago

    Oh another thing I’ve found through testing my urine every day with a acid/alkaline test strip is that as soon as my urine starts going to the acid end of the scale (also correlating with eating certain foods- esp fruits and veg) that the migraine and all the weirdness soon follows. As my symptoms subside my urine begins to move towards the perfect range for alkaline levels. Also, when I have the worst headache I also have lots and lots of acid in my stomach. I feel like something has gone wrong with my digestion, probably past antibiotics I took destroyed my gut flora. I think the soda in the soda crackers I’m eating is calming the acid and reducing the weird feelings and headache. I’m not saying that is the solution or even a great thing to do but my body sure feels happy at the moment. Water also reduces acid more than ant acids. The more water I drink in general the better I feel in general. I seem to need adequate salt also with the water to feel well. omg sorry this is massive info. I should really start my own thread. Sorry.

  • Rema
    5 years ago

    I get myself excited every time someone says they got rid of their migraines once they did something or other, and I keep thinking with all the things I’ve tried nothing has ever given me that miracle. Then I go into the guilty mode that I’m not doing something right. It makes me feel a bot better mentally to know that others like yourself have had the same experience. i truly believe now that when people say “I got rid of my migraines when I did so and so”, that what they had was not migraines but regular headaches. I’m still hoping for that magic pill

  • michele
    5 years ago

    Just curious to know if you were taking any medications while trying your elimination diets? I am also chronic (transformed from taking too many meds) & the best progress I have made was by following an elimination diet w/ stopping all/most meds. I found I have a slew of food triggers. If I can avoid them & limit meds to only high level migraines I have less. Triptans & pain killers cause more migraines for me, even though they are a quick fix. The book “Heal your Headache” was a good start, with my own trial & error over 1.5 years, I have finally went 3 weeks w/o a major migraine. Still have small headaches of course, Advil would take away, but w/ a possible ulcer I can’t take NSAIDs any longer.

  • AnjAmat
    5 years ago

    Thanks so much for your article. Makes me feel better to know I’m not alone. I’m either too nauseous to eat or afraid to eat. So frustrating. And friends and family act so strange about it, like I’m anorexic or something. As if I enjoy this!! Been chronic for 13 years now & have identified a few food triggers, but I agree it’s very difficult to know for sure when you’re always in pain. One thing that helped me some was the plan laid out by Dr. David Buchholz in his book Heal Your Headache. One part is a diet to follow. I didn’t think it was really helping when I first tried it, but when I went back to my prior eating habits, I found some patterns and ultimately decided to go back on it. Hope this helps & hang in there!

  • Livvy
    4 years ago

    Kayakerjo,
    Oh my gosh Annatto made me so sick over 4 or 5 days. I check everything orange or yellow now, like I found it in Annies Organic white cheese crackers. I thought the white ones wouldn’t need it & was suprised Annie’s contained annatto. Also they seem more aware of these additives in Australia than the USA. Annatto is a severe trigger for many adults and children.

  • Livvy
    4 years ago

    Ah, I have the same about family acting weird about it. Exactly, as if I enjoy this or as if I am making it up. I say oranges make me become ill the next day and they look at me like I’m crazy. I have to keep putting on a strong face and explain over and over and over but it actually hurts me very much when I am invalidated that way. They have no basis for acting like I would make it up and sometimes I think they are just purely abusive and this is an excuse to say Oh she’s just weird that way. Sorry, that just wanted to come out of my heart and it was so good to read your comment.

  • Christina Mattoni-Brashear moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Livvy,

    Thanks so much for being part of our community! We’re so happy to have you here. You’re not alone in your frustration with friends and loved ones not understanding the pain you’re in – this article may help you discover new ways to help educate others about migraines: https://migraine.com/blog/you-just-do-not-understand/. Please stop back and let us know how you’re doing!
    Best, -Christina (Migraine.com Team)

  • michele
    5 years ago

    I agree, the book helps. I couldn’t kick caffeine though, I just stay away from Starbucks coffee. I have many food triggers, but I wish I looked skinny/anorexic…kidding of course. Staying away from the meds is also a huge part. I figure now I get 80% of my migraines from food, 10% from meds causing rebounds & about 10% from stress or skipping meals.

  • Kayakerjo
    5 years ago

    I have also found this diet helped. Plus I’ve found annito(so?), a natural orange food colour and caramel are triggers for me. These both can be listed as just ‘natural’ colours or flavours on labels. Sometimes it the little things! I also found thinking in terms of building up triggers to a threshold helpful. I know the days I have to be much more careful about what I eat and the days I can relax a little bit.

  • Shirley Kunishi
    6 years ago

    You may want to eliminate foods that are GMO. I’ve found my migraine triggers in all the corn derivative foods from GMO corn.
    I also get a migraine after eating any simple sugar ingredient, which is alot of different products, incl. molasses, malted barley, alcoholic drinks, and about 20 others. respond if you would like a comprehensive list.
    My migraines are definitely the result of foods..I eat basically whole, organic foods.

  • Cecile
    6 years ago

    Like you, my chronic migraines are affected by diet. There are other triggers, but it never occurred to me the significant role diet played until I eliminated any food that came in a box or sealed bag, or wasn’t whole, organic and non-GMO. How good to discover that I could reduce the daily migraine about 50-60% — not just the headache pain, but the associated mood changes and fatigue as well. The diet is less expensive, easy to implement, tasty, satisfying, and best of all, the migraine is much improved. I’ve mentioned this to other migraineurs, but none have given it a go yet.

  • dnvnfam5
    6 years ago

    Thank you for posting your story. It is so helpful to know that there are others out there going through this horrible food vs migraine issue. I too, have gone through elimination diet after elimination diet, although when I I was eating “naked” chicken, brown rice and broccoli, oh and watermelon (it was summer) I still got migraines nearly every day- I just figured I needed more time for my body to get rid of everything else, until I learned that watermelon was actually a trigger for me, so I cut that out. I followed that diet for months and anytime I added anything back in my migraines would worsen, but I couldn’t always pinpoint it to the food (was it weather, sleep, work). But my list of known triggers is bigger than the list of foods that I think I can actually eat. I have to read every label of every food. Fresh things are best, but even in stores, fruits may be “sprayed for freshness” and the chemical is a trigger and now more and more fruits are giving me actual allergies. My migraines are becoming worse regardless of what I eat (or don’t eat). I have chronic daily migraines that are intractable and very severe. I’m going through a lot of allergy/sensitivity testing now and found out that I’m allergic to pretty much every soap, shampoo, detergent etc that there is. I’m allergic to dairy, tomatoes and bananas, but since that test, my allergy symptoms have worsened so I’m undergoing more extensive food/additive/chemical testing. Some days I live on my Zofran for the nausea and on my (hopefully) migraine safe toast ( you know- dairy free, nut free, soy free, egg free, gluten free).It’s so hard to find food to eat, it feels like a constant struggle, when people ask me what I eat I honestly tell them “I don’t know” because I can’t name the different meals I might eat. Mostly, I’m just not hungry anymore because of the fear of making these horrible migraines worse. I eat because I know I have to is what it boils down to. I have begun to change my mindset in the last week with the help of a few of my doctors but it is a difficult road.

  • CindyLee
    6 years ago

    Your story rings so true! I have not gone to the lengths that you have gone, but have tried to stay away from anything processed and anything white, and gluten, and sugar. I really prefer to prepare my own meals. And I still get migraines, only now I’ve been able to see that they begin more as as result of fascia and arthritis issues. Yoga helps but not always. Imitrex spray has been a savior for me, but it does not always work, either. My migraines started at age 17 and I am now 60, so menopause has not helped. I have a wonderful, understanding husband and I am being more understanding of myself than I used to be. I have accepted that these will never completely go away. It is a pain that I have learned to live with.

  • Amanda Ferguson
    6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this post! I have suffered with migraines since I was 11 years old, now in my early 30’s my migraines are chronic. I also have developed a lot of digestive issues that have led me to a very similar situation as you. I have been blessed with an amazing GI specialist who is helping me with the eating issues. 2 years ago I weighed 185lbs, this week I weighed in at 136lbs. If I do not fix this I will be under 100lbs by this time next year. It is so hard once food has become your enemy, there is no joy in eating only the fear of how sick you will feel after. My GI specialist explained that the digestive system is like a “mini brain” having so many nerve pathways and electrical signaling and that sometimes my stomach issues are actually abdominal migraines. He also believes I am part of a very small percentage of the population that has non celiac gluten intolerance. My diet I started last week is the following:
    -No Gluten
    -No MSG
    -No Aspartame
    -No Red or Green Food dyes
    -No Lactose
    I have found a wonderful store in my hometown I have found called Portions that caters to people with celiac and food allergy/intolerance and they have shown me that just because I can’t have the soy sauce on the grocery shelf doesn’t mean a life of plain rice. I still have a lot to work on, I lost 2 pounds last week, but I am working on eating more. When I read about your migraine history it is almost like reading about myself and I would like to hear more about this topic as it is a huge part of the battle I call Food Vs Migraines.

  • vanessafarias
    6 years ago

    when I was 15, I tried the diet that was available at that time to try to avoid food triggers and found that msg was my worst trigger. I have found that it is in SO MANY things and it is disguised as “natural flavor” so if I read labels I can avoid it, but I miss so many flavored foods like soups, cheetos, doritos, and have to be so careful when I go out to eat. But, it’s worth it to avoid having a headache. I find that what I am drinking is something I have forgot to consider and it may be that I need more water or less artificially sweetened drinks. Finally, I have TMJ and that can trigger a migraine especially if I eat chewy foods because the pain in my jaw can go right to my head. I haven’t starved myself, but I am trying to lose weight now, and I don’t eat carbs including bread and pasta and perhaps decreasing the gluten has helped because instead of debilitating migraines, many times I can power through and still be productive rather than down-and-out. Thanks for the article. I really enjoyed it.

  • Kara
    6 years ago

    Kerrie, I am so glad that you presented this story for the rest of us! I have also struggled with eating and possible malnutrition in the last two years. I am not trying to get any sympathy from anyone, but I also lost my husband to a rare genetic disorder in April 2012. That is where I took my food intake and almost complete forgot to eat. I had been following a good diet previously and had lost 40 lbs as a result of eating better, but the last 60 lbs came from the three months while I cared for my dying husband (I am also a nurse, FYI). All in all, I lost OVER 100 lbs in the three last months of my husband’s life. Even during the time of me not eating, even during the healthy diet prior to the extreme weight loss, my headaches failed to go away and I continue to have migraines daily that are RARELY below a 7 on a pain scale. I hope that there are others that read your article and other peoples comments so that no one will attempt to go to the extremes. My body is finally recovering and I have gained just under 20 lbs. Everyone says I look healthier but I still have a severe time trying to eat, because my migraines make me vomit so much, so I still have a hard time eating. I am back up 1-2 decent meals and snacks throughout the day. It is hard to get your body back on track and make all of your labs and body workings return to normal. Mine still are not normal, but I am getting there!

    So, thank you so much for your article!!!

  • Vicki
    6 years ago

    Kerrie, So sorry to hear about this latest. I’m still getting very good results with dextromethorphan, used at a low dose prophylactically, and at a higher dose as an adjunct abortive with my other abortive meds.

  • Evie75
    6 years ago

    I want to share something that is working for me. I always knew that foods and environmental factors were triggers for me but it’s so hard to avoid many things. I ended up finding help through a NAET (Nambutripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) practitioner. She is an acupuncturist also trained in NAET. The way it works is they use muscle testing to uncover your allergies and then they treat them one group at a time. You only have to avoid certain foods for 25 hours after the treatment. I don’t want to go into details about what they do to eliminate the allergy but if you are interested you can go to the NAET website: http://www.naet.com. I would recommend getting acupuncture treatments with NAET as opposed to acupressure. I have tried both and acupuncture was way more effective for me. I know this technique seems strange but it is working for me and other people I know. It’s worth a look.

  • AudreyB
    6 years ago

    For what it’s worth, I’ve given up packaged foods. I eat primarily fresh meats and fruits and veggies. No coffee (I do have tea), no sugar, no wheat or starch. I feel the best I’ve felt in ages…and I’ve had migraines for 53 years.

    I also take a handful of vitamins and supplements that seem to help: D3, B complex, fish oil, folic acid, magnesium and more.

    Nutrition is definitely a component of my headaches.

  • GinaD
    6 years ago

    Thanks for the timely post, as I’m considering elimination diets for my own chronic migraine/IBS/chronic pain and who-knows-what-else issues. Has anyone tried the Low FODMAP diet for IBS, or LEAP testing for chronic inflammation? How about going gluten-free?

  • Pier 1958
    6 years ago

    I am a nutrition therapist loving in the Netherlands. I have very good experiences with the FODMAN / Special Carbohydrates Diet with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, morbus Crohn, and colitis Ulcerosa. And having a better working gut can help disapearing migraine.
    Is there anybody who has experiences with the use of BCAA’s ? Together with a proteine rich diet will this supplement with Special aminoacids used in a big amout of 20 gram a day let disappearing the migraine.

  • hayley3
    6 years ago

    I FINALLY was diagnosed with food allergies and despite giving up rice, tomatoes, dairy, etc that I was allergic to, I was still having headaches although not as intense. Because we all think rice is always safe everyone gravitates to it but was an allergic food for me. I am next having an endoscopy done to see if I have celiac disease although the blood test was negative but I doubt that will come back positive either.

    I think my stomach is damaged from eating allergic foods for 30 years and therefore I have not recovered yet, due to the allergic foods igniting my immune system.

    However I would encourage everyone to get tested for food allergies. I did not have the typical symptoms of food allergies, so I had to fib a bit and say my lips were swelling. How sad is that, my symptoms were like IBS symptoms….It’s hard to pinpoint what you are allergic to when it’s several things too. The best thing I ever did was get allergy tested. That helps me to narrow down the other things that may be causing the migraines.

  • jamesbogash
    6 years ago

    Great article and one that highlights how powerful food can be, both pro and con, in migraines. Many times, if someone is having THAT many food allergies, it’s a digestive issue (many times driven by stress) that makes us more sensitive to the foods and additives we eat.
    Overall, though, any approach to migraine relief that does not address diet is inadequate.

  • Bita Asakura
    6 years ago

    I really admire you Kerrie and others who take the time to write about their migraine experiences. While my migraines have turned out very regular, about once every two weeks, I cannot even imagine how to go on with the pain on a daily basis or 5% functionality. What I just don’t understand about your experience is how you can write such a coherent essay with such a debelitating pain in your head? I’m sorry if I sound rude but I sincerely want to know how you do it while battling such painful headaches. Any response will shed some light on this for me as I almost cannot think any more when the pain is intense. I call it as a vegetative state.

  • AngelinaB79
    6 years ago

    Thank you Kerrie Smyres for sharing your story.
    Like many of you lovely people I seem to e at a loss of what is a trigger and what isn’t. I did elimination of my diet many years ago and got so confused and discouraged when I couldn’t find anything as a trigger of my daily headaches and 3-5 migraine attacks per week I am having to deal with.
    I just hope I find what is causing me this pain sometime soon. I am at a loss and desperate for some relief even if it’s just a few hours.

    Blessings,
    Angelina x

  • Bita Asakura
    6 years ago

    Angelina, have you tried eliminating caffeine all together? For me, since I resolved to do that, my migraines are less intense even though I still suffer from them.

  • Janet
    6 years ago

    Kerrie,
    Correction…I tipped the scale at 80 for our sons wedding….and as far as dieting to avoid migraine triggers…I had no idea the dangerous “game” I was playing with my health….and neith did the so called doctor who was filling my head with his nonsense.

    Beware fellow migraineurs ..

    Blessings
    Janet

  • Cecile
    6 years ago

    Janet – yours is an incredible story and how fortunate that you happened to go to your PCP when you did. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Jodie Wunderwald
    6 years ago

    Kerrie,
    I have suffered migraines for 29 years. I reached malnutrition in my migraine diet attempt as well. Having no choice but to re-introduce foods I developed a strategy. Some history: I embarked on my “diet” journey by reading ‘Heal Your Headache’-David Buchholz.
    I went a little further with in on my own by eliminating all three columns on the truthinlabeling.org MSG additive list. After losing too much weight and staying there for too long I decided I must reincorporate foods and additives. I decided to reincorporate columns 2 and 3 on the MSG list. This seemed to keep my migraines down to 1-3 per month (from 17). I only had to eliminate one item from column 2 and that item is still questionable. Sometimes I can consume it and sometimes not. It is Carageenan. It sounds like you are already aware of additives. But something else I stumbled upon I want to share is that I got very ill with a migraine from Disodium EDTA in a can of pinto beans. Rechecking my MSG List I found Disodium at the bottom of the list (not in a column) I promptly regarded it in the DO NOT CONSUME list!! I have started reading labels on all of my personal care products; lotions, shampoos, conditioners, face cream….anything with an ingredient label and MANY contain Disodium, Tetrasodium, and the word “hydrolyzed” which is in column 1, MSG List. I began making changes in these types of products as well. It is something to look into for sure. I know all migrainuers are unique but I am always interested in what has worked for others! I pray you are able to gain more and more control and insight everyday. I say now when I have a migraine…”it’s a learning experience”. (Down to 1 per month now and I can usually tell what it was that caused it.)

  • CindyLee
    6 years ago

    THANK YOU for the Disodium EDTA tip!!! I found it on a can of garbanzo beans! They’re in the trash can now.

  • JoelleAD
    6 years ago

    I have resorted to seeing a preventative medical doctor since I seem to have similar migraine reactions to many types of foods (plus a ton of digestive issues). After a lot of tests I am hopeful that my migraines may be lessened from healing my gut issues. I know there have been some studies relating these areas- but I wish there were a lot more!

  • Janet
    6 years ago

    Kerrie,
    I did the same thing in 2007 with a homeopathic doctor. It worked for months…until I felt like I was dying,. And I was. My normal weight is 93 pounds….but I weighed 80. Our son was getting married a June of 2008 and it was already April …long long story short this doctor, while relieving the migraines with vitamin IV therapy was not doing blood work. He decided I was hormone deficient and decide to implant testosterone pellets in my hip while my husband injected me with that poison every night. The doc said I needed IV therapy to put fluids into my body …so I said please do it. He couldn’t..he wasn’t on staff at any hospital in Las Vegas where we lived at the time. RED FLAG!!!! Went back to my pcp who did a blood test. My progesterone level was 1414!!!! I didn’t know how bad that was til my doc started to cry. It took 2 years..a fantastic gynecologist and genius endocrinologist to get me back to “normal” …my level to 11…..but the migraines were just as bad as ever. Waxing my face every four weeks to rid of the beard I had was just another reminder of side effects of someone who I trusted. It was by the grace of God I was told by many hospital staff that I didn’t stroke out from having a testosterone level high enough for 7 6 foot men weighing 225……and since that time I haven’t been quite myself since. I made it to our sons wedding in June 2008 weighing 90 pounds and with the help of my Las Vegas sun tan it wasn’t so noticeable how thin I was. I’m sure we all have a nightmare story or two that we’d like to put behind us….this is one of a lot for me.
    Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the first AHMA convention in Scottsdale as I’ve just recovered from a six day migraine that I thought I would literally slam my head against the floor. For all of us I pray for a cure…but I will no longer be a guinea pig….I’ve been taking Migrelief for 3 weeks now and I think it may have started to kick in. The topamax I took for years has reared it’s ugly side effects…cataracts and I am hypoglycemic and the thought now is celiec disease….so…I’d like a breather…like Paul and the thorn God left …..I guess one night I accepted migraines as mine.

    Blessings to all
    Janet

  • Keilah Folkertsma
    6 years ago

    Hello Kerrie. I can relate in that I have reactions to so many foods and I periodically will cut back to a few that seem okay and then try one or two at a time, but it is frustrating. It’s not just the migraine triggers for me, but also asthma and allergy triggers. I did get tested on a number of foods, but food additives are horrible as well for trigger allergy and thus asthma and/or migraine. I am thinking I will need more extensive allergy testing, but it’s expensive, so it has to wait for now. Good luck to you and thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  • marlenerossman
    6 years ago

    I am a professional wine journalist. Part of my job consists of tasting wine and writing up my findings for magazines. I also teach wine classes at University. I do not drink much anymore for fear that even a small glass will trigger a migraine. When it comes to food, I am terrified that something new may trigger a migraine. I KNOW chocolate does, but with wine it is different. I thought red wine was a trigger until I had a monster migraine after a small glass.
    I ALWAYS eat while I am tasting. I never DRINK for the sake of drinking. So I tried a small glass of white wine and woke up with a monster migraine. The next week I had a glass of red wine with no ill effects and a couple of days later I had a glass of white wine with no ill effects.

    There is no pattern, no rhyme nor reason to my migraines.
    I can be sick with them for a week and not have ANY wine.
    I have lost half of my life to migraine and there is not relief in sight.

  • Kayakerjo
    5 years ago

    I had similar experiences with a number of possible triggers. It wasn’t until I eliminated all of them for 3 months + that I was able to see that things (like wine) were triggers but sometimes not strong enough to tip me over into a migraine on their own. However, in combination with other triggers, they could be deadly. I am now slowly learning where my threshold is and can enjoy limited amounts of certain food triggers safely when I know I haven’t been exposed to any other triggers.

  • shine4him
    6 years ago

    I’ve never done an elimination diet, mostly because as a scientist, I’ve been told time and time again that ANY diet that cuts out certain nutrients is harmful over time. Our bodies need the variety to function properly. But I know that wasn’t your intention going into this.

    One thing I’ve done that HAS offered good results, however, is intermittant fasting. I would love to see a blog post on this sometime! There are not specific nutrients cut out long-term, as you go back to your usual diet after each fast. But overall, it gives your body a chance to “reset” every so often. I’ve never had a migraine during a fast except for the occasional time I didn’t keep up with drinking enough water. It may or may not work for you, but it could be something else to try, anyway.

  • AmyBabee
    6 years ago

    @shine4him: you are right soo right. It helps me rest physically and spiritually too. I also found I dont have any food triggers and empathize with my fellow migraineurs who do. I can not begin to imagine what they have to go through each time they have to eat.

  • merrie
    6 years ago

    I have a similar reaction to food. It used to be that NO foods seemed to trigger my migraines. As my migraines have become chronic, it seems like everything I eat makes them worse. For example, Mac and cheese? Migraine (made by me so no msg). Baked beans? Migraine. Tomato soup? Migraine. Fish chowder? Migraine. Now, these things don’t seem to have anything in common to me other than that they make my migraine way worse, and bring the associated nausea to new heights. I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t care, except for Chinese food, I haven’t been avoiding any foods, what’s the point if they are all going to make me sicker anyway. I live on anti nausea meds and hope that in itself isn’t too bad for me. I hope you are able to find a balance between my approach and yours because I don’t think mine is very healthy either.

  • Liz Flynn
    6 years ago

    Definitely aim to be well hydrated as Jenny says. It can be so difficult sorting out food triggers with chronic migraines. The pain can make you desperate to find an association and eager to toss any real scientific approach (to finding triggers as well as easing the pain). I have several food triggers but, as you said, it isn’t straight forward. I’m not sure and don’t care if it is the food itself or the way in which it is cultivated but three foods which are surefire triggers for me are pork (any variety), farm raised fish, and chicken. I no longer eat any of these. Pork I zeroed in on at the age of 6 when I told my mother that hot dogs gave me a headache – she yelled at me and said I was making it up. The farm raised fish and chicken I was slow to recognize as triggers.

  • Jenny
    6 years ago

    Unfortunately happens so often, advise other and don’t catch yourself. Glad you’re getting help to reintroduce things carefully. When I was first diagnosed I tried cutting out the common trigger foods, but soon realised that it wasn’t that straight forward. Short of being dazzled by car headlights not dipped properly, most of my migraines don’t seem to have a single trigger, seems to be some multivariable mathematical formula of combined factors, which sometimes are a trigger and sometimes not. Decided not to torment myself trying to work it out. I try to avoid getting dehydrated and try to eat regularly. I can understand how frustrating it must be to have daily chronic migraines as I have daily pain from soft tissue rheumatism and would probably pursue anything that would alleviate that pain permanently. Don’t be too hard on yourself, pain makes people do things they wouldn’t normally. Good luck with your recovery.

  • Tn5259jn
    6 years ago

    Thank you sooooo much for posting this. I have much the same condition as you…chronic daily migraine, constant pain, and no real triggers. Diet elimination is the one thing I have put off because I just have never really found anything that I knew for sure kicked off a migraine, and I just didn’t feel like I had the stamina to get through an ordeal like what you just did. After hearing what you went through I’m not sure I could make it. I know I should probably try it…but I’m just not sure it’s worth it! I”m so sorry you have to go through this. I was excited to read that they have made some exciting discoveries about fibromialgia…maybe they will transfer over to migraine.

  • kristisprague
    6 years ago

    Trecia,
    I’m glad you mentioned Fibromyalgia. I have been living with Daily Chronic Intractable Migraines for 9 years. They began following an emergency appendectomy. I am fortunate in that I know what triggers many of the migraines. This summer (2013), I got really sick. It was like having Mono and being in the first trimester of pregnancy at the same time. The docs were testing me for everything! Finally, after doing my own research, I suggested Fibromyalgia. That’s what it is! I see an ‘Alternative’ Nutritionist who put me on a anti-inflammatory diet and one that is high in protein. She also prescribed an infusion of nettle tea to help detoxify my liver and kidney. This seems to be helping the Fibromyalgia and migraines at the same time. (Foods I avoid: processed anything, sugar, fruit, gluten, dairy, MSGs, aged and fermented food, nitrates, sulfates, soy, citrus, nuts.) Wishing us all a low pain day! Kristi

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