Friday, October 24, 2008

MIGRAINES...The best medicine may be NO medicine!

This will probably turn out to be a somewhat lengthy article but if you suffer from migraines you might want to read all the way to the end. My hope is that I can help all those people out there who suffer from migraines and who might be desperate for relief. Over the years you just get “physically tired of the pain”.

I have people all around me who have migraines and all they seem to be interested in is what RX will help them. They literally cry and say things like, “I can’t take it anymore”, or “I’m so tired, I just can’t deal with this”. They converse with other migraine sufferers about what RX works best. I never hear them talk about “management”. I am convinced through personal experience and many years of trial and error that your body gets immune to certain drugs after a while so, what drugs may have helped last year or a few months ago may be totally useless today. Every time I went to the doctor, he would give me another pill to try. It either didn’t help or only helped somewhat, a few times. So, after years of this struggle I have come up with the best remedy for me: “NO PILLS”!

I will share with you my personal guide to migraine management. But, beware-it is only for those people who can say “I’m desperate, therefore I will make this commitment to myself and my family”, to learn all I can about my body and take control over it, once and for all.
Get ready because this is going to take your personal commitment by keeping a log and creating you own list of “foods” (that’s right! FOOD) that you will probably never be able to eat again! I know it sounds uninviting but if you are really desperate, let me say “GIVE IT A TRY” what do you have to lose? I know all the foods that trigger my migraines and I just don’t eat them-EVER! I am also aware that there are probably more foods out there that might need to be added at any time so I am a very cautious eater, especially when we dine out. I have a rule, if I’m not sure about something on the menu I am not shy to ask a LOT of questions. For example, when ordering a salad I always ask “What is on it”? When ordering main dishes I always ask “Does this have any kind of cheese on it and if it does, what kind”?

You will have to adopt your own list of trigger foods but this can get you started. It takes discipline and practice to adjust to a lifestyle change but it is worth it and you will get used to it. Let me repeat that “IT IS WORTH IT”! After a while you won’t even miss those cheeseburgers with onions. I don’t even think (much) about all those foods I can’t eat anymore. I know of someone that has had migraines for half of her life now. She has suffered almost every day and has tried every pill and taken every test out there to get to the bottom of her pain, to no avail. I also know she snacks on cheese crackers off and on all day so she probably doesn’t consider all the foods that may be causing her pain. Cheese crackers have several things that could cause migraines like processed cheese and a lot of sodium. I have tried to help her by telling her about my trigger foods that I just don’t eat anymore, no matter how much I want to, but she is just not able or willing to make that commitment to herself. I guess what I am trying to say is, not everyone can mentally accept the fact that they might not ever be able to eat some of their favorite foods again.

My list would probably be shorter if I told you the foods that I CAN eat. But, that wouldn’t help you get started. Know what foods can trigger a migraine and keep a log for yourself. Always know ahead of time – “If I eat this, I will probably get a migraine”, and then ask yourself, “Is it worth it today”? And of course it’s not ALL about food, there are certainly other triggers…know what yours are. My list is as follows:

NEVER EAT - Egg yolks, processed meat, processed cheese, aged cheese (yellow), raw onions, yeast, oranges, corn/popcorn, oily nuts.

EAT IN MODERATION - apples (raw), bananas (especially too green), tomatos/sauce, mustard, salt/sodium. sugar, caffeine, cabbage (raw), peanut butter.

OTHER TRIGGERS - cigarette smoke, perfume/cologne, paint, strong smells, bright glaring light, stress.

Basically, anything aged, processed, smoked, pickled, marinated or macerated. Example: bacon, ham, pickles, olives, maraschino cherries or deli meats. I never eat prepared or packaged foods because of the sodium content. Some foods can be eaten in moderation only. Even though cheese is high on my list, I can still eat white cheese like, mozzarella, swiss, provolone and parmesan. Whole eggs used to be on the list until I figured out it was the yolks that were the culprit. Beware of condiments, read labels and never eat products with raw or whole eggs, like Mayo. Some foods I can’t eat raw are fine once they are cooked, like apples and onions. I don’t eat oranges but can use the juice of lemons on fish or in lemonade, just not too much. You will have to be the judge of how much is too much. For a long time I kept my list on the refrigerator so it would be where I couldn’t forget it or have to keep track of where I put it. Salt, sugar and caffeine are all things that WILL trigger a migraine if you eat too much. Basically, if you consume too much of one of these, your body gets saturated and when it starts being flushed out, the fluctuation in the levels from hi to low will be the trigger. I can eat a piece of chocolate cake with vanilla icing, no problem. But the same cake with chocolate icing is just too much. So you see, I can make my cake and eat it too, as long as I know the combination that works.

My migraines have dwindled over the last couple of years. I have to admit, I do keep pain medicine on hand for when I really need it. Taking it less often helps my body to not grow immune to it.

DISCLOSURE: The above article is in no way intended to replace the medical advice from your physician. Also, check with your doctor first before adjusting any medication. This article is merely a guide to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine pain.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's wonderful that you are using diet changes to ease your migraines. Too many people automatically turn to pills to cure everything. My mother has gotten my father's diabetes under control by monitoring his weight, diet and excercise. It's a full-time job for her!

    I have had only a few migraines in my life, and I have such empathy for you and anyone who suffers from them. I wish you all the best!