Last week I posted about my own experience trying to use elimination diets to work out my Migraine triggers. Whether you decide to try a diet or not there are definitely pros and cons to doing so. I’m going to start with the cons, just to mix it up a bit! If you scroll to the end of the post I have also included links to some other helpful resources about diet and Migraine.
- It can be difficult. I’m not going to sugar coat it, shifting the way you eat is hard. This doesn’t mean it is impossible or that it isn’t worthwhile, but don’t go into it assuming it will be easy.
- Eating out can be very hard. There, that’s the real pain out of the way early in this post - eating out takes planning and label reading. I tend to opt for the simpler options without sauce like chicken and veggies, or salad with no dressing (you can bring your own compliant dressing!). Let’s be honest though, it’s hard eating out with Migraine anyway (lights, noise, smells), so this may not impact your life too much.
- It might not be healthy long term. Staying on a restrictive diet can be unhealthy long term. This is why it’s important to follow through with the testing phase, and gradually add more foods back into your diet. If you need help with this definitely consult a dietitian.
- It does not work for everyone. Anecdotally (not science based here!) I would say it does seems like the majority of people with Migraine have at least one food trigger. So if you have never identified a food trigger then chances are you could find one. However that isn’t a certainty! You might try a diet for 6 months and have no relief whatsoever. This is a possibility, however low the chance.
- It can be psychologically taxing. Especially if you have any history of disordered eating. If you are struggling or unsure chat to your Doctor and consider chatting to a therapist too. I spoke about this in part one.
- There isn’t one definitive Migraine elimination diet. The HYH is excellent, but many people find the Charleston captures their triggers better, or maybe through their own trial and error they find that eggs don’t agree with them. This is a process, not a quick fix.
All of these cons can be easier to manage with support, and most of them can be overcome. Moving onto a more positive take, we have the Pros.
- It can be a total game changer. There are countless members of the online Miigraine community who have found great relief from following an elimination diet.
- Cutting all the major triggers at once can make things easier to spot, and bring relief faster. This is a simpler process then trying to cut out one potential problem at a time.
- If you do have a food trigger, then removing it feels wonderful. I used to be an avowed caffeine addict, and swore that it helped my Migraine too. Turns out I’m so much better off without it! It has taken some of the stress out of my life - I no longer worry about having it too late in the day (delayed caffeine = attack) or not having enough (attack) or having too much in one day (definite attack). I just don’t consume it. Simple.
- There are fewer side effects than medication. Medication is powerful and definitely worth trying if you live with Chronic Migraine. Many people have fantastic success with beta blockers or epilepsy medication. However none of these are without their side effects, and many can’t be taken while pregnant or breast-feeding. Dietary changes might be easier in these circumstances.
- Once you get into the swing of things it really isn’t as difficult as it first seems. There are many great options out there for headache friendly foods! I’ve listed some resources below.
- You will know you have tried. If you give it a good shot, follow it closely and reintroduce gradually, then at least you have ruled things out. Then the next time someone says to you, “you get Migraines because you eat chocolate” you can confidently tell them where to go. While eating a block of the good stuff.
- There is help out there if you need it! Come say hi to me on Instagram, join the The Migraine Strong Facebook community, find your own group of like-minded people online. Many of us have been through this process before you, you are not alone.
There we have it, my take on elimination diets for Migraine. I think they can be really worth while, and many people report great success reducing their symptoms by cutting out triggers. Personally I found a few and am grateful for that. Elimination diets aren’t easy and they aren’t for everyone but they could be worth a shot.
If you decide to try, google has many resources, but here are a few I would recommend.
- The Migraine Strong Facebook Group
- Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz
- The Dizzy Cook (her recipes are delicious, the pictures here are from her site!)
- The Charleston Diet
Have you every tried an elimination diet for Migraine? Did it help?