There is so much confusion about which diet we should follow, especially of those of us who have a chronic illness like migraines. There are so many buzzwords in the health and wellness space -- from Paleo to Vegan to South Beach -- the list goes on and on. So which one should you follow to help tame your migraines?
This is one of the most frequent questions I hear from migraineurs, so I figured I would share how I typically answer this question: it's all about finding your "you" diet.
I don't believe in a one-size-fits all philosophy when it comes to diet: I believe you need to find what works for you. For example, for one person, eating meat may be crucial to keeping their energy levels up. But for someone else, it may mean stomach cramps. Instead, I typically tell people to start reshaping their diets with these three steps:
1. Eat real food. So much of what passes as food on our supermarket shelves is not really food when you think about it. Something that was made in a plant versus grown in nature is not food. Yet we continue to consume things with dozens of ingredients filled with super long words we can barely pronounce. If our great grandmothers wouldn't recognize these things as food, then we probably shouldn't eat them.
2. Eliminate inflammatory foods. There are three major things I highly recommend all migraineurs avoid at all costs because they are extremely inflammatory and can contribute significantly to your migraine misery: gluten containing grains like wheat, barely and rye, sugar, and processed oils like canola and vegetable oil. Unfortunately these three categories are ubiquitous in our modern day diets, so you really have to be vigilant. Read your labels!
3. Cozy up to your kitchen. There's no way around it, you're going to have to get cooking (if you're not doing so already). Outsourcing your meals by ordering takeout or eating out means you're leaving your health in someone else's hands, who likely wants to maximize for taste, not for nutrition. I realize it might be hard to fit cooking into an already busy schedule, but I encourage clients to make slow changes like picking one meal a day to cook at home and slowly increase home-cooking over time. That way, you'll start to develop your own time-saving tips as you cook more and more meals.
If you follow these three basic ideas, you'll have a great foundation for finding out what diet works for you. You'll likely start noticing which foods give you a lot of energy and make you feel great and which foods weigh you down. Slowly, over time, as you clean up your diet I'm confident you can find the diet that works specifically for you!
I would love to hear from you -- what foods allow you to thrive? And which ones have you eliminated?