Food cravings are common in patients with Migraine, especially during prodrome. Ingesting carbohydrates is thought to possibly play a roll in the production of serotonin — a brain chemical implicated in the Migraine process. Maybe this is why some patients crave sugary treats before a Migraine hits them head-on?
Below find some sweet holiday treats that may be helpful to you just before or during a Migraine attack, or even as something to consider adding to your preventive regimen. Remember, almost anything can be a trigger in certain people, so if you see something here you know will be a problem, stay away from it 🙂
Anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory. Ginger can also sometimes help with gastric stasis problems, making it easier for your stomach to absorb important medicines for your Migraine attack. Candied ginger is easy to make, but many stores also carry pre-made candied ginger without inflammatory high fructose ingredients.
Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, fights two potential triggers: yeast and E. Coli. Cinnamon also fights exacerbating factors such as inflammation and muscle spasms. Fluctuating blood sugar levels is a common trigger for many people, and cinnamon is also well known and used as an agent that helps to balance these fluctuating blood sugar levels. Watch out for cinnamon candy, making sure to stay away from fructose and harmful dyes which may act as Migraine triggers.
Aids digestion and may help nausea. Peppermint is also used in aromatherapy for Migraine, so that cooling feeling on your breath after indulging in a peppermint candy may also make you feel better. Beware of peppermint if you have GERD however, as it may exacerbate reflux issues in some individuals. Peppermint candies can be easily made, and there are several types that come out during the holidays that contain only sugar and peppermint flavoring. Beware of potential triggers such as dyes which may have been added.
High in magnesium, may increase serotonin and endorphins and help Migraine. Dark chocolate has been found to have many different health benefits. Although some Migraineurs find that eating chocolate triggers a Migraine, it is thought that those with naturally low serotonin levels may benefit from eating chocolate at the beginning of a Migraine. The hypothesis is that the chocolate raises the low levels of serotonin, potentially helping the brain rebalance itself and the Migraine to stop. Chocolate also has a small level of caffeine which can be helpful if the Migraineur does not consume caffeine regularly. Chocolate also increases endorphins — the body’s natural pain killers. Watch out for inflammatory fructose or artificial sweeteners. Adding milk to your chocolate may negate these wonderful benefits.
All cherries, but especially tart cherries possess the amazing ability to act as a pain reliever. Concentrated tart cherry juice is easily found at most grocery stores and makes for a pleasant way to medicate pain without the risk of medication overuse headache (MOH). Frozen sweet cherries make a wonderful after dinner treat and are found in most grocery frozen food aisles. Beware of inflammatory fructose.
Honey sesame, pumpkin or flax seed treats
Raw honey is thought to be anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, and sesame seeds contain vitamin E as well as magnesium which are often found to be low in patients with Migraine. Sesame seeds (preferably raw, not roasted) may also help to balance estrogen levels, helping to minimize Migraines triggered by hormone fluctuations. Raw pumpkin seeds are also high in magnesium. Why eat icky fish oil capsules? Ground flax seeds are an excellent source of anti-oxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids that are thought to act as anti-inflammatory in nature. Making these treats is easy, and many health food stores carry versions without extra ingredients that may act as triggers.
Although nuts may be a trigger for many Migraineurs, some without those triggers may actually benefit from eating almonds. Almonds retain most of their nutritional value when they are eaten raw, not roasted. They contain lots of magnesium and may help to balance hormones in those with Migraines triggered by thyroid fluctuations. Add a homemade raw honey-based candy coating, and these are a tasty way to help prevent Migraine triggered by low magnesium.
Many ginger ales are made with real ginger root and pure sugar. It is often mistakenly thought that it is the soda itself that settles the stomach, however the truth is that the ginger in the ale is a wonderful way to fight nausea and vomiting.
Sun ripened cranberries have a number of health benefits, but when consumed in their whole form (as in chunky cranberry sauces) cranberries are thought to have amazing anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which may be helpful to Migraineurs. As usual, homemade is best as it is easier to be sure ingredients are pure and no inflammatory corn syrups (fructose) are added to discount the benefits of this tart/sweet treat. Like dried cranberries? They too make an amazing treat in muffins, topping a salad, or just plain popping them straight into your mouth.
Chewing gum has been found to activate the hippocampus. The hippocampus is part of the brain that has been possibly implicated in the pathogenesis of Migraine without aura. Gum also can act as a stress reliever. If you have TMJ of tension type headache, talk to your doctor about chewing gum first as it may act to trigger these problems. Watch out for sweeteners and other triggers.
Lemon is traditionally used to cleanse the palate between courses at formal dinners because its clean, clear flavor tends to eliminate all other tastes in the mouth. Popping a non-sucrose/fructose lemon drop (artificially flavored) after vomiting can help to clear the bad taste so you won’t be tempted to brush your teeth and damage the enamel.
Keep in mind, if blood sugar fluctuations can be a Migraine trigger for you, then eating candy and other sweet treats may cause more problems than they help.
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