Changing my food choices
April 7th is World Health Day, so let’s talk about daily nutrition and diet. After your diagnosis, did you alter your diet or health routine? If so, how? How do you maintain a healthy regiment?
Ignorance was bliss
I was very young when first diagnosed, so I’m not aware of any diet changes my parents might have made. I don’t recall any diet restrictions. If anything, I remember having easy access to many of the foods that are triggers for my many symptoms. Nobody knew about the risks.
A different kind of diary
Changing my diet was a gradual transition that started after my first encounter with a headache specialist in 1995. I made an appointment at the local headache center with one goal: to get my hands on a script for Imitrex. It was new and the media made it sound like a miracle drug. In a way, it certainly was. The doctor insisted that I keep a Headache Diary, including possible diet triggers. He also gave me a list of the most common triggers and encouraged me to avoid all of them just to be safe. I took the information reluctantly, expecting to get that precious script the same day. That certainly did not happen. I was determined to play along just enough to get what I wanted…a headache doctor’s worst nightmare. I sure I wish I could remember that doctor’s name. I would contact him, apologize for my rude behavior, and thank him for all his help. He would be shocked to learn I ended up working as headache disorders advocate.
The easy part
Right away I worked to eliminate foods with artificial MSG. The worst part of was giving up all those “sour cream & onion” flavored snacks. Even sour cream & onion dip became off limits. That one hurt.
Years later I discovered that eating too many salty foods and not drinking water caused dehydration, a sure-fire migraine trigger. Dehydration was more manageable in that it didn’t require me to totally give up anything. I just had to put limits on salty snacks and add more water.
Several years ago I made the connection that pickles were also a trigger. I could handle a few slices on a burger, but munching on sweet pickles guaranteed a migraine attack. Like the loss of “sour cream & onion” flavored treats, this one was difficult.
A work in progress
The biggest challenge has been eating frequently enough. When I am under stress (and who isn’t these days?), I tend not to eat or drink like I should. Skipping meals is a bigger trigger than any one food. That is one change that is still a work-in-progress.
I try to be gentle with myself when I miss the mark. The trick is to treat myself as I would treat other people in similar situations.