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Breaking the Fast: A New Headache Pattern

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but I’ve come to dread breaking the fast. No matter what time I eat my first meal of the day, anywhere from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., it kicks off a downward spiral.

For the last two weeks, I have little head pain and a lot of energy before breakfast, then I eat and slowly fade over a few hours: my head pain increases, my mind gets muddled, I get so sleepy. The changes are barely noticeable at first, but this migraine or headache (not sure which it is) makes it difficult to push through the day. Eventually I succumb to a nap for a couple hours in the early afternoon. I awake refreshed, with only minor head pain (level 2 or sometimes 3) and am able to think, stay awake, and be productive for the rest of the day.

Breaking an overnight fast seems to be the trigger. Whether I have chicken and rice, rutabaga, or cabbage at breakfast*, the slow onset of headache, brain fog, and fatigue is inevitable. Eating these same foods after the afternoon nap doesn’t bring on a headache or migraine.

Medication seemed a plausible factor, especially because antidepressants are thought to exacerbate Failsafe food sensitivities and Cymbalta is the one drug I only take in the morning. I’ve tried taking it and waiting a couple hours before eating, once even stretching the gap to four hours with a yoga class in between. On those days, I don’t feel bad (just hungry) until after I eat, then I feel worse quickly instead of having a slow fade. The nap doesn’t have the same reviving effect on those days, though.

The new pattern is actually nice. Instead of reading at the end of the day, like many people do before bed, I do it after breakfast because I’m too fatigued to do anything else. I’m energized in the late afternoon and evening, so that’s when I go to yoga, write, and do chores. (Bonus: I get a fantastic energy boost following evening yoga and the pain drops to a level 1 until I eat again.)

Although having some sort of schedule for the first time in forever is fantastic, eliminating these crashes would be even better. Does anyone else experience a similar pattern? Please let me know if you have any clues as to what might be going on — and how to deal with it!

*Wondering why I choose such odd breakfast foods? Read about the Failsafe diet I’m trying for migraine and chronic daily headache, starting with the last post first. I really think it’s working!

8 Responses to Breaking the Fast: A New Headache Pattern

  1. Susan says:

    Hi. I’m sorry to hear about your pain after breakfast. It made me wonder if you’ve looked into adrenal fatigue and blood sugar issues. I’ve been struggling with severe adrenal exhaustion and unstable blood sugar for over a year and my migraines are significantly worse. The migraine pain is affected by hormone shifts (cortisol, adrenaline etc) which fluctuate through the day. I feel worse in mornings than I do as the day goes on, and the best in the evening. Adrenal exhaustion can be caused, at least in part, by chronic pain. In my case, I think pain is both a cause and a result of poor adrenal function and the organs that work with adrenals (liver, gallbladder, HPA axis etc)

  2. Shelby says:

    Large meals can trigger or exacerbate my migraines. Most of the time it’s lunch I have an issue with. Worth pointing out the trend to your doctor. Thanks for sharing your insights as you navigate this approach. Chronic migraine feels like a mystery but as people share what they try and different results, we all benefit.

  3. Nilofer says:

    This may or may not bf help but here is my recent breakfast story. I went 10 days without a migraine. I was super careful to avoid triggers, especially gluten. Then on the 10th day, I ate breakfast and a headache ensued about an hour later. Usually, I eat 2 fried eggs (whites cooked well but yolks runny). I had read that the eggs whites are much less allergenic if cooked but the yolks are much healthier if they are runny (this way the cholesterol and other fats don’t get oxidized). Instead of these tried and true eggs, I ate hard-boiled eggs with fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes. So delicious but probably the culprit. Very flavorful but ultimately, not worth it. I take 10mg of Nortryptiline every morning. This is a very low dose but I think that it is enough to boost my blood pressure and give me a little lift. I linked low blood pressure to migraines a long time ago and this small amount of Pamelor seems to do the trick.

  4. Nilofer says:

    Oh and, I have to have a snack between breakfast and lunch. Low blood sugar is another trigger for me. I try to make it something like a mini-meal or perhaps something more tasty like gluten-free chocolate chip cookies made with coconut oil and eggs (Gluten-Free Pantry brand).

  5. Nilofer says:

    Another thought – are you supplementing with calcium/magnesium? It doesn’t sound like you would get enough with the breajfast that you describe. My typical breakfast:
    2 fried eggs
    1 slice gluten-free bread with 1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil
    1 glass Green Vibrance drink
    1/2 tablet of cal/mg “Bone Strength” by New Chapter
    1 Ubiquinol pill (100mg) this is the reduced form of Co-Q10
    10mg Nortryptiline

  6. Ann says:

    Your feeling worse + energy decline after breakfast is very similar to what I experience. I’ve thought it’s related to blood sugar swings (am borderline diabetic) but when check with my meter, all is pretty OK. Oatmeal is the worst for causing it. If I eat a tiny breakfast, and then more later in the morning (or not until lunch if busy)I seem to do better. Another thing you might try is have a very very small snack on your bedside table so you can have a bite or two of something before you even get out of bed, then more of a normal breakfast an hour later. Let us know what you end up trying and what works/doesn’t work, as I’m sure we’re not the only ones out there!!!

    Ann

  7. Bibi says:

    For breakfast I eat oatporridge with low histamine fruit with linseed oil or buckwheat pancakes.Q10 and magnesium in the morning makes my head clearer. Before the diet change I always felt sluggish – now it’s more the opposite, that I have trouble falling asleep.
    It sounds as if the Cymbalta is the problem. Could you take it late in the evening as a sleeping pill ;-)
    My niece is the same age as yours. They KNOW we love them :-)))

  8. Thanks for all the suggestions. Right after I posted, the pattern shifted (of course!). As much as I don’t want to believe this, the culprit appears to be sugar.

    I had a complete endocrine workup in October and all was good. I’ve been testing my glucose (blood sugar) and it appears OK to. For the last two days, I’ve gotten a headache immediately when I eat sugar for the first time in a day. The day I didn’t have sugar, I didn’t have a headache. Not enough data for verification, but I’m certainly going to be avoiding sugar for the next few days to see what happens.

    I do supplement with magnesium and calcium, though I’m not as diligent about taking the calcium as I should be.

    Unfortunately, Cymbalta keeps me awake if I take it at night. I hope to be finished weaning myself off of it within a month.

    Take care and thanks again for the suggestions!

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