A Migraine-Attentive Food Value System
A food value system to me is a valuation of foods based on different criteria. Those criteria can be few or many, and can range from things like taste to the effect the food has on the body. Things like alcohol are highly valued by some, because they like the effect it has on their body, while for others alcohol is a migraine trigger. My migraine-attentive food value system places foods on a scale, foods that are triggers are very low, while foods that are yummy and healthy are high.
From vegetarian to vegan
After returning to a vegetarian lifestyle about a year ago, I more recently became completely vegan. Part of my decision to do so has been due to a continuing journey I’ve been on to take an intimate look at the way foods interact with my body, and then assessing as best I can the ways my chronic pain and illnesses are affected in particular.
Before going vegan, I already had experience with elimination diets and keeping food logs: on the recommendation of doctor’s I kept a record of my body’s responses to my frequently eaten foods in attempt to find migraine food triggers, and I found some. Very salty and oily foods for instance are terrible triggers for me. Funnily, for some of the migraine community, it is just the opposite. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed happening in regards to my migraines since becoming vegan.
My nausea has decreased
I used to get nauseous before eating, in the middle of a meal, after eating. Whenever really. Nausea is perhaps one of the most excruciating parts of living with migraine. I know for me, I sometimes will go from feeling absolutely fine during a meal to suddenly extremely sick due to migraine. I still experience a lot of nausea, but I do find that during my daily meals, I am not getting sick as often.
I am aware of more food triggers than I was before
Through elimination diets and food logs, I found key triggers for my migraines that I learned to avoid altogether over time. Since becoming vegan, I’ve found that there are actually even what some would call ‘healthier' foods that are triggers for me. I found that one of my preferred healthy fats, avocado, for instance, actually can tend to trigger migraines for me.
In the past, I certainly began by focusing in on eliminating and reintroducing foods I suspected would be triggers based on whether I felt they were healthy for the body in general, but that isn’t how triggers or migraines work. Through a different diet, I have focused in on analyzing foods I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Preparation helps me avoid possible triggers
Meal prep has been a game changer for me when dealing with migraines. Since becoming vegan, I adopted a meal prep plan to be able to plan my diet for a few days without having to worry about a migraine coming on due to what I am eating, or running into a situation where I am ordering food that may have possible triggers.
This isn’t necessarily tied to veganism, but it so happened that I adopted this habit when my food value system changed, and I have found it to be a great help, both in having food on hand when I can’t cook or prepare food during or after an attack, and in knowing exactly what I am going to eat for a few days without having to think about triggers. I know the foods I am preparing are safe and delicious.
While I haven’t experienced drastic changes to my migraine frequency or pain levels, I am experiencing less nausea overall, eating more consistently and with a regimen, experiencing better and easier digestion, and discovering more about the way what I put into my body interacts with it.
Do you have a specific food valuation system related to your migraines? Do you find certain diets to be more helpful than others when it comes to chronic pain? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Have you taken our Migraine In America Survey yet?