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A bowl of sugar shaped like a brain

Balancing Sugar and Migraine?

I have always loved anything sweet. When I was a kid, I would go on these sort of candy safaris, looking for any scrap of sugary goodness I could find throughout my house. If there weren’t a conventional, wrapped candy bar somewhere, I would resort to getting into my mom’s baking supplies and eat the powdered sugar! As I grew older, the quest for sugar became less and less realistic. What began as Sawyer and the Temple of Sweeties evolved into Sawyer’s Tummy Ache Time. With things like metabolism, an embarrassing number of cavity fillings, and a migraine diagnosis, candy was one of many things that I would have to monitor if I wanted to carry on as a somewhat-healthy adulting twenty-two-year-old.

After scouring the Internet, an article I came across gave me the confirmation that I had been dreading – and it talked about excessive amounts of sugar triggering migraine attacks.

My beloved sugar has betrayed me

I mean, it makes sense. Every Halloween, Christmas, and Easter has ended in an all-too-familiar, throbbing headache that I always seem to forget as soon as that sugar craving comes back. During these holidays, my sister would always give me her extra candy, like every responsible, health-conscious little sister, leaving me with a pile of tooth-decaying loot.

Is that much sugar worth it?

This is the question that I find myself revisiting every time I take that first, guilty bite. I mean, Swedish Fish are incredible, but are they worth the headache pain? With a body as finicky as mine, it’s a complicated answer. I know sugar is bad for me. I do have the Internet and the stern words from my parents, girlfriend, and dentist to prove it, so what keeps me snacking? Sugar and coffee are both addictive substances that are both socially acceptable, so the answer comes not from others, but from you.

YOUR moderation is key

Everyone’s body is different, and sometimes, I have to eyeball how much sugar will trigger my migraines. Yes, sugar is awesome, but having a clear head is infinitely more important. Migraine doesn’t have to be what defines you. It doesn’t have to take everything away that you love. It might actually be your body telling you how much of something is bad. I mean, sugar is just one of many triggers that can cause me immense pain, but I still want to go ahead and find a way to enjoy the things that I have always loved.

This sense of moderation is something that I am constantly working on. I have a sort of pride knowing that I know what my body needs and, more importantly, what it doesn’t. I know that binging on Hershey’s Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, while delicious, may not be the wisest choice for somebody who struggles with Migraines. However, maybe it’s okay to pop a Kiss once in awhile. I promise I won’t tell your dentist if you don’t tell mine!

What things are you doing in moderation to help with your migraine triggers? I would love to know in the comments down below!

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.

Comments

  • Danny111
    1 week ago

    Seems to me Swedish Fish (if that’s your weak spot) could be not only sugar but red dye. I have to be very cateful of sugar and additives as both are stimulants to the nervous system/neurology.

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    1 week ago

    @Danny, it is true that some dyes or artificial ingredients can cause problems. Thanks for sharing! Peggy (Migraine.com team)

  • medeuxsa
    4 weeks ago

    Sometimes I can eat a sweet dessert without triggering a migraine, but the one that always gets me is any kind of frosting (like on cake). I feel it in my throat and ears first, and then it turns into kind of a queasiness before head pain sets in. It’s not worth it, but every now and then I fall into its clutches anyway.

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    1 week ago

    @medeuxa, I have seen other members post about sugar triggering migraine attacks. I can relate too. ~ Peggy (Migraine.com team)

  • darcyshirley
    1 month ago

    For things like candy, just looking at them immediately reminds me of the pain I’ll feel if I eat them. And I think that’s because things like candy bars or gummy worms are just straight unmitigated sugar.

    Baked goods are definitely my weakness. I’ve noticed that high protein desserts (like peanut butter cookies) and desserts with a lot of fiber (oatmeal cookies) seem to be a lot more forgiving for my head.

  • Peggy Artman moderator
    1 week ago

    @darcyshirley, sugar is a trigger for a lot of us. I have wondered if sugar brings our blood surgar up, then it crashes. Thanks for sharing! ~ Peggy (Migraine.com team)

  • darcyshirley
    1 month ago

    Oh! Also! I don’t let myself have sweets if I haven’t just eaten a meal. That seems to mitigate pain coming on (and definitely my appetite for overindulging!)

  • ionajean
    2 months ago

    Sugar causes migraine, no doubt. So does alcohol, fruit, starchy veges, carrots and all grains. These are carbohydrates converted to glucose when digested. Glucose kicks the electrolytes out of our cells, and this imbalance causes migraine. The main cause of migraine is electrolyte imbalance, which can be caused by carbs, barometric pressure changes, altitude, extreme weather, etc. Try a LCHF diet, go off all carbs, and drink a minimum of 10 glasses of water per day with added salt/ 1/8 teaspoon per. If you are interested to try, gradually increase water to ten glasses, by just 1/4 to1/2 cup per day. This way of living will decrease migraine and the need for drugs which ALL cause rebound headache syndrome. Best wishes to all.

  • deadeyes
    2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing. I love candy too and battle with this issue (and convient forgetfulness). Migraine has stolen most of my stress relievers so I am reluctant to give up the sweets. To try to cut back, I don’t buy chocolate in bulk. I make myself buy 1 bar so its not so easy. The only bad thing is that I spend way too much on my bad habit on pay day.

  • Georgiana
    2 months ago

    Oh, I get a SPECIAL migraine when I eat sugar. I’ve been a unilateral right my entire life, but these show up on the left side of my head and go all the way to the back. I also have nausea with them. I normally don’t get nausea or vomiting with my regular migraines unless I have a 9 or a 10. They don’t respond well to meds. I have to sleep them off.

    I have nick-named them “The Left Hand of Doom” in my tracking app.

  • Latodavia
    2 months ago

    Sugar! I don’t drink any sweetened beverages except my beloved sweet tea, which I make myself with a very small amount of sugar (for a Southerner!) I save my sugar allotment for ice cream and chocolate cake! I know I should cut down, but would life be worth living??? 😉

  • Luna
    2 months ago

    I grew up as a sugar addict. But in my 60s the migraine attacks were worsening. I found Migraine.com and read that triggers might be food. So I started eliminating foods. Didn’t come up with any definitive triggers but after eliminating sugar for a time when I started eating it again it was too sweet. My addiction to all those wonderful sweet things would lure me into trying them anyway. I found that after a few bites they were no longer tasty. Eventually I gave up on just about everything except for a little dark chocolate with almond/peanut butter. And a little bit is enough. Can’t say that it really helps with migraine but know that overall sugar isn’t healthy for the cardiovascular system or the immune system.

    Moderation could be looked at in the sense of keeping to a daily routine in all things. And no longer overindulging in activities that put me in harms way of things that overstimulate the brain and sets off the neurological dysfunction that causes disorder in my body. Of course that comes with the qualifier of, as much as possible without totally giving up on having a life.

    Here is too a good day for all of us.

  • April.Sluder moderator
    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing Luna. Sugar is definitely something we should all be limiting. Good for you for having the self-control because it can be difficult. Thanks for being part of our community. April – Migraine.com Team

  • Luna
    2 months ago

    Sometimes it is difficult to say no to especially some really good looking chocolate treat. Sometimes it is the price that I say no to (I’m cheeeeep) other times I read the ingredient list and that scares me away. I like to eat food not chemicals. One way I changed my habits was by enjoying a treat but not buying more than one and bringing it home. Had no control. So I had to learn limits. This didn’t happen overnight.

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