Meal skipping: chicken or the egg?

Meal skipping is one of my sneakiest and most common migraine triggers.  I am a 34-year-old woman who can (usually) manage a successful business and family life (including regularly feeding my cat), but I cannot figure out a way to get myself to do what should be a basic human thing: eating regularly and staying healthily nourished throughout the day.

Skipping a meal is a foolish thing. I tell migraineur friends all the time to keep healthy snacks on them at all times so they’re not caught with a dangerous drop in blood sugar.  I am a health advocate who can’t seem to follow her own advice, even when I share my frustrations with this amazing community. As much as I’m told by wise friends that this is a basic flaw of humans (knowing what is best and not doing it), I’m still frustrated by my lack of follow-through every time I resolve to eat healthily and regularly.


This is not to say I don’t get hungry—in fact, I have a pretty high metabolism and am usually ready for second breakfast an hour or so after first breakfast (that is, if I’ve eaten breakfast at all).  Throughout my life, I have tried to stick to others’ eating schedules even though I tend to get hungrier more than three times a day.  Maybe that has contributed to my whacked-out way of handling my diet, who knows?

Sometimes, though, I skip meals because I am simply not hungry.  Invariably, I’ll get a migraine (even if it’s a mild one that is easily treatable).

At those times I wonder if the skipped meal triggered the migraine, or if the lack of appetite and vague nausea are side effects of a migraine already on its way.  

When a trigger can affect you more than an entire day after exposure, it sure is hard to figure out what the reasons for that particular migraine’s arrival.  Keeping a diary is helpful, of course, but it’s still hard to know if the triggering event was just that—a migraine trigger—or if it was a sign that the migraine was already on its way.

What do you think, especially as this relates to skipped meals? Do you notice a lack of appetite when a migraine is coming, or do you think you’ve just not paid enough attention to your body’s nourishment needs and ended up triggering a migraine?

Finally, I’ll ask something I’ve asked before, as I know there are many more readers of this website each and every day who might benefit from your wise words:  what are your best tips to make sure you eat regularly and healthily throughout the day?  Do you set alarms, carry snacks, or make smoothies? Do you count calories or carbs? For those of you who have really done a good job of making sure you don’t get migraines triggered by meal skipping, what is your secret?

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.

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