A Migraine-Attentive Food Value System

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!

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

View Comments (7)
  • stacysillen
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Kyky,
    My ‘chronic migraine’ syndrome really did stop after I switched to a clean vegetarian diet, just like my MLK provider assured me it would!! Great article, I’m terrible at finding my triggers. Are you also eating as clean as possible? By that I mean no harmful additives or preservatives? I think that’s huge. I’m spending a lot more on my food but I’ll work at getting that down. Meanwhile the rare times a migraine moves back in I have no idea what I was eating. I don’t let them linger more than 6 days now, I get to a headache urgent care and ask them to do the works, to knock it back down, back into the abyss, and then I rest for 2 days. We’ll get this figured out. Thanks, Stacy

  • Kyky Knight moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Stacy!

    Thank you so much for sharing, I am so glad to hear that changing your diet has really had a positive impact on your migraines! I try to eat pretty raw and clean, but sometimes I do not get down into the ins and outs as well as I should, especially while on the go. Great recommendation, thank you! I know that this criteria is just a small way that I have been able to really tune in further to my diet, but it may be the opposite for others in the community. So glad things are going better for you.

  • Silvia
    3 weeks ago

    Vegan or vegetarian may sound like a way to go, but I have experienced complete hemiplegic migraine relief (100%) for the last 20 years by monitoring carefully what I eat down to the almost molecular level. my problem trigger is D-glutamate (a protein) found in things like TVP, texturized or hydrolyzed or concentrated (any) protein, be it processed whey protein, or soy protein, disodium inosinate or guanylate, or gelatin. this goes by many names, such as fish base, vegetable broth (in plain tuna!), turkey with injected sodium lactate, etc. One has to be super careful and avoid seemingly ok foods such as yogurt or cream cheese, but certain brands do have the concentrated proteins. I like real protein!! Steak! One more thing: my migraines started about 15 hours after eating the problem protein. Hope this helps you.

  • Kyky Knight moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    Silvia,

    Wow! That really is super interesting. So so glad you were able to identify that trigger down to the smallest level, that must have taken such thorough attentiveness! I totally relate to being careful about things that ‘seem’ okay, I never would have been able to pinpoint some of the foods I think are triggers now if I hadn’t taken this step of elimination. Thank you for sharing and take good care!

  • tammay
    4 weeks ago

    About six months ago, I also went from being a vegetarian to being a vegan with the idea that it might help my migraines (plus I wanted to try and lower my cholesterol, which was coming up as borderline, without medication). Like you, I felt that the migraines weren’t so much reduced in frequency and intensity as my body felt more able to deal with them because I felt better overall (and I did notice that the “heavy” feeling I felt after a meal, usually a meal with some dairy in it, subsided as a vegan).

    However, then I went on a month-long trip to visit family. The whole month was fraught with what I would have considered major migraine triggers – long plane trip abroad, visiting with emotionally abusive and mentally ill parents, political situation in the country I was visiting not so hot, important decisions I had to make on the spot that caused a lot of stress and anxiety. While I tried to stay vegan as much as possible, I did eat dairy probably about 30%-40% of the time.

    Rather than have escalating migraines (frequency and intensity), the opposite happened! I had a few migraines during that time (because of hormone-related issues that are always a trigger for me) but they were very mild in comparison to the intense migraines I expected. Plus, they lasted only about half a day and sometimes less rather than the 2 1/2-3 days of the intense migraines.

    So now I’m starting to wonder if going vegan was really all that helpful to me (in terms of migraines, that is). I’m still trying to decide whether I want to stay vegan next year or try to incorporate some dairy (as I love dairy) into my diet.

    Tam

  • Nikita212
    4 weeks ago

    I have also used elimination diets, as well as noticing the foods I have eaten right before the migraine. A new feature that may or may not be related to migraine is the sudden dislike of a food I have been eating. Has anyone else experienced this?

  • BBergstein
    4 weeks ago

    My food regimen when I have a migraine consists of “no food”! I’m generally too sick to eat. I try to keep hydrated – water or Gatorade! If I have a truly awful migraine, I can’t even keep Zofran down – so I just stop eating. When I start to feel a little better – I eat white foods – sticky rice & mashed potatoes!! At least if i’m going to throw up – it will be something plain!
    I never drink wine (actually no alcohol) & no artificial sweeteners!
    When I do have a few days when I feel ok – I try to eat healthy meals & I always need a lot of fiber (especially since I started the Aimovig)! Sometimes – I just eat what I want and what tastes good to me at the time!! I go through so many days that I can’t eat – I treat myself every now and then!

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