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The desperate decisions brought on by meal skipping

Like many community members I’ve spoken with, I am an infamous meal-skipper. It’s never intentional, and I don’t have any sort of eating disorder. In fact, I have a really high metabolism and get hungry a lot. For whatever reason—though often that reason is related to work or laziness—I skip meals a lot and always have. In high school, I valued snoozing past my scheduled wake-up time more than I valued primping or packing a lunch. And, once I got to the cafeteria, nothing really looked appetizing. In college, apart from freshman year when I was on the primo meal plan, I regularly skipped meals. I figured I’d start acting like an adult one day.

Well, I’m now twice as old as I was when I started freshman year at NYU in 1998, and I’m still not a 100% healthy eater. I don’t skip meals as much as I used to, but it’s still more frequent than I’d like. And messing with my blood sugar and hunger levels is not exactly a recipe for a migraine-free day.

Sometimes, like today, I wait so long to eat that I feel voracious when I finally decide to find food. Then I encounter that conundrum that is exclusive to very privileged people like me (people who actually have access to all sorts of foods and have enough money to acquire most of those foods): I have to decide what to eat. Sometimes, especially during really busy days at the bookshop, I have very little time in which to eat food. Luckily for me and my health, we are two doors down from a neighborhood coop grocery store, so healthy options abound.

Today we were just slammed at the bookshop—and that’s a very good thing. Saturdays are often busy, and I’m grateful for that. My shift officially ended at 3, but I didn’t end up leaving until 3:30, and that was when I could tell I was getting light-headed and on the cusp of true hANGRINESS. I walked to my car, dreaming of all the different meals I wanted to eat.

To my surprise, I kept thinking of menu items I no longer consume: a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s (nom), a super-giant roast beef sandwich from Arby’s (double nom), a double steak burger from Steak ’n’ Shake.

Here’s the rub: I am a pescatarian now so don’t eat those foods.

But man oh man, I was really tempted. Imagine a Venn diagram: one circle is the selection of fast food joints available near me, and the other circle contains all the vegetarian/pescatarian options in town—the circles don’t overlap much. Sure, I could order good food from a nicer restaurant, but I was simply too hungry to do that.

Y’all, I came close to ordering meat from a fast food joint, but instead I headed to my poorly stocked pantry at home and made myself…wait for it…a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yep, like a ten-year-old. It wasn’t too satisfying, but it curbed my hunger, and at least I stuck to my guns and didn’t eat meat.

On my way home to my sad little sandwich, I wondered about all of you guys out there in the migraine world. Do you meal skippers ever face this same problem, trying to decide between crappy fast food and unsatisfying food at home? Or, better yet, do you ever have to decide between fast food (even food that’s way beyond the limits of your healthy diet) and no food at all? Please share your stories below! 

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


  • SPSwafford
    3 years ago

    This is so me! I live in a rural part of Texas a the closet decent grocery store is 45 miles away so keeping great veggies is hard. The ones locally are beginning to rot in the store some days 🙁 Then, there’s the migraine diet and some other things mixed that I’m following which seem to be helping but they are so lack-luster that I can’t get motivated to prepare or eat them. It seems I’m intolerant to food, especially good food! Lol I’m being a little dramatic, but chronic migraine can really be a buzz-kill. I can do the routine for a while, for months. Then, I resist a bit. Easiest thing for me to drink now is the shakes from Standard Process. If anyone else knows something like this, let me know. I’m having issues with gluten, dairy, sugar and possibly the beef. Maybe more. Love these articles! Keep’em coming!

  • MaddieG
    3 years ago

    Constantly!! I work in an office where we have a Wendy’s nearby but that’s about it. Anything beyond that requires I take an hour lunch and I’m not about to extend my work day. I’m awful about packing Lunch too, the meds im on mess with my appetite, and so I forget to eat until I’m seriously shaking some days. Then I’ll eat everything and be a hot mess!

    Or I eat popcorn or a cereal bar for lunch. I’m trying to do better packing lunches but it’s not easy!

  • inquisitivespirit
    3 years ago

    All the time! I’m a uni student that lives an hour away from uni and has quite a few 8am and 9am classes so don’t always pack lunch. Also my campus is in the middle of nowhere and I’m lactose intolerant. And taking into account how expensive everything is, I end up eating chips a lot. Not healthy, and probably has msg, though I’ve kinda given up on avoiding that because too much effort for no real difference (I’m stuck in constant migraining mode anyway)

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Inquisitivespirit! We’re glad you’re here. Have you thought about carrying some fruit, cut up veggies, nuts and maybe some balanced meal bars that you could easily pack in your car or backpack, and don’t have to worry about spoiling? Some of the meal bars now even come in savory varieties (great if, like me, you don’t always like something sweet). If you wanted to add some cubed cheese to the mix, you could always freeze a bottle of water and pack the cheese next to the bottle to stay chilled, and you’d have a cool refreshing drink as well! -All Best, Donna ( team)

  • Maureen
    3 years ago

    I absolutely always keep nuts and/or granola bars in my car and purse. If I don’t eat when necessary, it’s migraine time.
    And while I do really appreciate a properly constructed pb and j, I probably need the snack in order to get home to make and eat one before the migraine beast shows up.
    That being said, if I were a pescatarian in this situation, I’d probably head for Wendy’s and go with a frosty and fries, feel completely justified, and better luck tomorrow;)

  • Tamara
    3 years ago

    Yup yup and yup. Constant pain in the head that starts to pound and throb when you get up to move and eat – increases nausea and then I don’t want (have energy) to cook supper let alone eat. I tend to not eat enough and leave long periods of time in between meals just because I’m too tired and not hungry. I also cant eat much as once because of TMJ pain in my jaw joint which makes eating but itself painful. But sometimes I could get sugary treats down and ate WAY too much candy.

    What is starting to help me is never cooking before a meal – if I want food, I need it now and don’t want to wait an hour. I cook when I have a chance and then I have leftovers always in my fridge – I have chicken curry, rice, sloppy joes and beans/rice combo ready to eat. Healthy options that are ready in 3 minutes or less when I get home. There are a lot of slow cooker recipes you can have ready in the freezer and then just toss in a slow cooker in the morning. Obviously you have to cater to yours dietary needs.

    Fast food options I cant give any tips for – I have severe wheat and dairy allergies so all I see is weeks of pain and digestive issues when I look at fast food. Although I do carve those foods when I’m in pain and less likely to be eating properly.

    I also have to be unusual and eat 4 medium meals – 3 and snacks don’t work for me.

    For working – ALWAYS have small snacks with you, ones that you can eat when you have 5 minutes (or take the 5 minutes every 2-3 hours or so, it is very important). Nuts, granola bars, apple sauce with veggies, raw veggies/crackers and hummus, etc etc etc

    Hopefully that gives you a few ideas and is understandable – I feel a migraine coming and those lovely prodome brain fuzz symptoms …

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