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Learning the Value of Nutrition (and Increasing My Head Pain in the Process)

Though last month my head felt better than in decades, my diet’s lack of nutrition nagged at me. I was afraid that living on chicken, rice, rutabaga, and chayote squash would ultimately harm my health, thus defeating the purpose. Trying to find some balance, I started adding foods back in.

The Failsafe diet is already tremendously restrictive and I had restricted my intake even further to avoid:

  • Sulfurous vegetables, like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and anything in the allium family. These may be a problem for people who are ultra-sensitive to sulfites, a known migraine trigger for some.
  • Nuts and legumes because I’ve been pretty sure in the past they were triggers.
  • Beef, lamb, dairy, and eggs, all of which I had positive antibodies for in a 2005 food allergy test (ELISA). (Tangent: Science-Based Medicine has a great review of the validity of food allergy tests.)
  • Gluten, the food component currently in vogue as the root of all evil.

So far I’ve added cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lentils, lima beans, raw cashews, and beef back in, plus I started using enriched rice. What an amazing amount of diversity this seems to provide! Unfortunately, I feel like I’ve been in a downward spiral the last couple weeks, with increasing migraine frequency and severity, more severe daily headaches, and significantly more fatigue.

The slide has been gradual, without any obvious migraine attacks or increased head pain following certain foods (except for when I tested milk and had the worst migraine I’ve had in six months), so I’m having trouble pinpointing the source. Apparently, some people on the Failsafe diet have trouble with folate, which is added to enriched rice. I eat rice throughout the day every day, so that could explain why I can’t determine the cause of my worsening symptoms. I’m going to switch back to regular white rice this week in an attempt to recapture some of the glory days.

Teasing out the minute dietary changes that may or may not have an impact on how I feel day to day is frustrating and majorly discouraging. I feel like I have to choose between adequate nutrition and having head pain and fatigue that significantly limit my ability to function. I know shorting my nutrition isn’t a wise strategy, but those days of minimal head pain were as glorious as a sunny day in Seattle. I’ll do almost anything to get them back.

3 Responses to Learning the Value of Nutrition (and Increasing My Head Pain in the Process)

  1. J Hattori says:

    KERRIE
    YOU ARE RIGHT IN VARYING YOUR DIET. A DIET OF CHICKEN AND RICE WHICH IS WHAT YOU WERE ON FOR A WHILE I BELIEVE IS NOT GOOD BECAUSE OF THE EXCESSIVE ARACHIDONIC ACID IN CHICKEN WHICH CAN LEAD TO INFLAMMATION AND OF COURSE ARTHRITIS. WHEN I CUT DOWN ON CHICKEN TO ABOUT 2 OR 3 X A MONTH AT MOST MY ARTHRITIS WENT DOWN ABOUT 30 PERCENT. A GOOD BOOK: INFLAMMATION NATION
    ALL ABOUT ARACH. ACID.
    HAVE A GOOD DAY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.
    JULIA

  2. Nilofer says:

    Paul Jaminet has written an excellent book called the “Perfect Health Diet” in which he extolls the virtues of white rice and other “safe starches” as he puts it. He calls white rice safe because the boiling process apparently removes the portion of the rice that the immune system can react to. Incidentally, his blog has good info. re: people with migraines who have found relief from their migraines after following his advice. He is a super smart guy – was an astrophysicist. He and his wife attempted a “traditional” paleo diet as a way to improve their health but found they needed to tweak it to include safe starches in order to make it more workable. He has a great blog. Personally, since his diet excludes all grains except white rice, I think the lack of gluten is probably a big reason why migraneurs do well with his diet but since it is designed to be human-species-specific in terms of foods/minerals/vitamins that we evolved with, it may be the removal of migraine irritants and inclusion of health-promoting foods that have helped heal people. I have taken a lot of good advice from his book – especially re: coconut oil. The blog has a great forum too.

  3. Marta says:

    Oh you poor thing. My heart goes out to you with all that suffering with migraine.

    I have had them since I was 12. They got heaps better since I started my own business thus eliminating the corporate rubbish and stresses of having to deal with silly people and policies – plus since I eat healthier.

    Wheat ended up being a factor when I had a lot of it, husband got diagnosed a celiac and so my fascination with the food hopsital began. I have managed to alleviate hot flushes and other peri-menopausal symtoms like memory issues through diet.

    I can even eat chocolate again if 70% cocoa decent stuff – not too much as ‘sugar is evil’. I still get migraines if I get very emotional about a life event or burn the candle at both ends and still have triggers like cheese. I wanted to recommend ‘The Perfect Health Diet’ book by Jaminet to you too as one to try.

    I am embarking on the PHD now – well once I have read the whole book although the website summaries the diet nicely. Not for migraine but a similar type of severe ‘is it a brain tumour’ headache I get struck with for 4-5 days at a time. Started from when the consultant gyno put me on the pill to help my endo. No painkillers or migraine medicine does anything for it. My eyes and nose water from the pain at the crescendo of it and if I didn’t know from experience it would go after 5 days I would want to throw myself off a cliff as really hard to cope with as there is no pain management that works.

    The doctors are pretty clueless as to the cause. Have tried eliminating all sorts of stuff which seems to work but then the headache comes back with another menstrual cycle (typically at the end but sometimes at the start of my period). I read Vit D can help so am trying that. I think I did feel better when I was throwing the kitchen sink at the problem with vitamins, diet, exercise and meditation. Sometimes looking after my health and having to eat right feels like a full time job.

    I really hope you find something that works for you. Hugs.

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