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Here’s What Happened When I Tried the Keto Diet: Part 2

“Did you start The Ketogenic Diet? What are you eating for dinner?” my sister asked.

“I started yesterday, and I think we’re ordering Chinese Food!”

“You can’t eat that,” my sister said.

Bye bye, sugar

She explained that sugar was an added ingredient in the sauces of my favorite dishes. When I called the restaurant to inquire they confirmed this. In fact, when I asked which meals had no sugar they suggested I eat a salad. I began to understand the severity of my new food program and a greater truth—sugar is hidden everywhere. To possibly help my migraines, I wasn’t changing my food choices, I was changing my lifestyle.

Kitchen confidence

I was concerned because most of my life I’d avoided cooking like someone who avoids cooking. Add to that my exhausting chronic migraines and I wanted to use any extra time to nap, not cook. How I was going to do this for three months? I started eating simple organic meals at first, like scrambled eggs with sour cream, chicken with hot sauce, and I discovered I could make anything from cauliflower. I found my groove and learned it was easier to pre-cook my meals in the morning when I felt best. After two weeks, my cravings for chocolate cake abated. I felt optimistic because this how the ketosis would start and maybe my migraines would stop. I wondered if I’d see any changes.

Good start

After a month, a small change came: My regular aches and pains left. The constant jaw, neck, and shoulder pain I’d been experiencing since my migraines became chronic left me. My body felt like the heavy school backpack I’d been carrying for over two years was suddenly gone. Would my migraines be the next to go?

Continued progress

Two months into my diet (after I’d perfected my cauliflower mini-pizzas) an unexpected change occurred: My anxiety lessened. When my migraines became daily, the fear of their pain and not being there for my family gave way to a growing panic. My anxiety had been increasing, and I was heading down a slippery slope. With sugar no longer impacting my diet, I noticed that heavy tension lessoning. Just as caffeine could heighten my nervousness, sugar seemed a contributing factor in my anxiety levels. After doing some research, I found studies linking sugar intake to anxiety (examples can be read here and here). I knew I was on the right track listening to my body.

Migraine relief?

By the end of the third month, I was hoping I’d see a change in my migraines. I stayed on the diet for three more months to be sure, but they persisted. The Ketogenic diet didn’t change my migraines, but it did change me. I know my migraines aren’t food-related. That neck and shoulder pain never returned. I have much more energy. My anxiety stays at a low hum. I eat significantly healthier. I’d love to be able to say Keto cured me. Still, it has been a huge plus feeling better on my migraine-free days, and that’s a change I didn’t see coming.

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

  • mmgage
    3 months ago

    Gary Taubes’ book: Good Calories, Bad Calories was eye-opening for me several years ago and started me on the path to low-carb living. The Keto diet makes sense, not only for weight-loss but for overall health. Not having the roller-coaster of sugar highs and lows does help me with my migraine disease. It’s not a cure by any means but it is one way to cut out a trigger for me. And the fact that I was able to drop my total cholesterol, lower my LDL AND raise my HDL by switching to this way of eating (not to mention lose 30 pounds) is a great bonus!

  • Georgiana
    3 months ago

    I have to just smile at the Chinese food thing. Quite a wakeup call, isn’t it? 😉

    Keto by itself doesn’t “cure” my headaches, but it packs one hell of a punch as a preventative when I combine it with regular strenuous exercise (heavy weights, HIIT, etc.) and CBD. I wouldn’t ever want to stop keto. My body loves it.

    The only thing I’ve ever found that works in the face of severe triggering (for me, cold fronts) is CBD. I think anyone and everyone with migraine should try it. If it doesn’t work at first, increase the dose. It’s given me my life back. It’s amazing stuff.

  • Tonilyn Hornung author
    3 months ago

    Hello! Yes! Eating out on the Keto Diet was quite the wake up call! That info has changed the way I order at restaurants. I’m glad to hear that you’ve found a system (including Keto) that provides relief from migraines. Thanks for sharing your success with CDB oil as well! Thank you! 🙂

  • grammayumyum
    3 months ago

    Have you continued on the keto diet in order to maintain the improvements you got?

  • Tonilyn Hornung author
    3 months ago

    Hello there! Thank you for your question! I have stayed on this diet. Working with my doctor, I did introduce some low in sugar fruits and vegetables, but I found once eating this way became a habit, it was much easier to maintain than I thought. Although, I must admit after particularly bad migraine attacks I will indulge in a slice of cheese pizza or a milkshake here and there. 😉 I feel much better eating this way, so I do my best to maintain this lifestyle. Thanks 🙂

  • Tonilyn Hornung author
    3 months ago

    Hello there! Thank you for your question! I have stayed on this diet. Working with my doctor, I did introduce some low in sugar fruits and vegetables, but I found once eating this way became a habit, it was much easier to maintain than I thought. Although, I must admit after particularly bad migraine attacks I will indulge in a slice of cheese pizza or a milkshake here and there. 😉 I feel much better eating this way, so I do my best to maintain this lifestyle. Thank you again for your question! 🙂

  • Yarnman
    3 months ago

    Just read part 2 after commenting on part 1. At one time I was a nuclear engineer and will always research anything I am about to do with changing my lifestyle. I found a lot of conflicting information out there basically showing with research and science based information that it is really impossible for an adult to place their body into Ketosis. It only works when you under the close supervision of a nutritionist and hospital type of conditions. It obviously is good for your body to get rid of the sugars, carbs and processed foods. That is why people are losing weight and feeling so good on the “Keto”diet. I know it is better for me and I feel a lot better overall, and my migraines are much less with staying gluten free. It is just seeing how long it lasts.

  • mmgage
    3 months ago

    Gary Taubes’ book: Good Calories, Bad Calories was eye-opening for me several years ago and started me on the path to low-carb living. The Keto diet makes sense, not only for weight-loss but for overall health. Not having the roller-coaster of sugar highs and lows does help me with my migraine disease. It’s not a cure by any means but it is one way to cut out a trigger for me. And the fact that I was able to drop my total cholesterol, lower my LDL AND raise my HDL by switching to this way of eating (not to mention lose 30 pounds) is a great bonus!

  • Tonilyn Hornung author
    3 months ago

    Hi there! Congrats on being able to lower your LDL and raise your HDL all by switching your way of eating! 🙂 I’m happy to hear that not having all the sugar highs and lows helps you with your migraines. Thanks so much citing Gary Taubes’ book! I’m excited to look into that one…Best!

  • Tonilyn Hornung author
    3 months ago

    Hey there! Thanks for taking the time to read both articles and share your thoughts. You’re so right, it’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor before trying any diets. For me, I also feel better when I eat gluten free and stick close with the Keto style. Good luck with everything and here’s to having some pain free days! Best to you!

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