By normal standards, I eat a pretty “strict” diet. However, I don’t see it that way – I just eat the what's best for my body and my migraines, which means I avoid gluten, grains, dairy, soy and of course, anything processed. When I’m home and mostly eating home-cooked meals where I have control over all the ingredients, I find it’s easy to come up with healthy and yummy meals. But when traveling or eating out, the loss of control over all my meals make things more complicated.
Last week I got back from a one-week trip to Portugal. It was the first time we took the little one (now 10 months!) on an international trip and I’m happy to report, it was a success. We absolutely fell in love with Lisbon as well as the beaches in the south.
But I’ll admit I was anxious about one thing: what was I going to eat??
Part of the joy of traveling is discovering a new culture through their food. What was I going to do if I couldn’t walk into a coffee shop and taste a local pastry? Or indulge in a glass of wine with some cheese? In the days leading up to the trip, I thought about this a lot and it was starting to cause me a lot of stress because I was feeling deprived.
Finally, after weeks of unnecessarily stressing in anticipation of all that I wasn’t going to be able to eat, I decided I needed to look at this situation through a different lens. This trip is a treat, an opportunity to explore a new country, and, most importantly, to relax. If I was going to be stressed that I would be “tempted” to eat a food on my normal “forbidden” list, it would defeat the purpose of the trip, and not to mention expose me to a potent migraine trigger: stress!
So I gave myself a new rule: if I really wanted to experience a food I normally don’t get to eat, I would do it. And I would enjoy it – no guilt allowed! This meant I got to taste all kinds of cheeses, yogurt, wine, and yes, gelato. My indulgences didn’t induce any migraines or digestive distress. Instead, they are an important part of my memories of my great trip to Portugal.
The big takeaway for me is this: I could only do this because I have mastered my migraines. In the past, when my migraines were chronic and out of my control, a simple glass of wine could send me into a 3-day episode. But now, I know what factors can send me over the edge and I’m conscious of how to keep them at bay. Yes, I did eat a lot of things I try to keep out of my day-to-day. But I also slept 8 hours a night, took long walks, and was super relaxed, so I could afford the flexibility.
This is the kind of freedom mastering your migraines affords you. And why I’m so passionate about what I do.