The Migraine Diet: Judith Warner & “Heal Your Headache”

It almost bores me to write about migraine and headache diets: Nearly every news article says you should do them, but many headache specialists say that only about 25% of people benefit from them. I vacillate between thinking food triggers are bunk and not eating to avoid migraine and headache triggers.

What I’m absolutely sure of is that Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Approach for Taking Charge of Your Pain is a simplified — and usually ineffective — approach to headache and migraine treatment. (Not to mention it is also terribly offensive.)

I’m not the only writer with migraine with these conclusions. The latest is The Migraine Diet by New York Times blogger Judith Warner. The following excerpts don’t do justice to Warner’s eloquent examination.

Fortunately, no one seems to have noticed that I wrote last week’s column with one eye closed. I also had the lights in my office off, the shades drawn and the thermostat turned up to about 85 degrees.

All this because I had a migraine. In fact, I was on day six of a migraine that would, by day seven, have me dissolving into tears . . .

I was suffering like this because I was Taking Control of my life. I’d recently read “Heal Your Headache,” by the Johns Hopkins University neurologist David Buchholz. And now I was following his “1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain.”

I stopped drinking caffeine and alcohol and stopped eating chocolate, cheese, M.S.G., nuts, vinegar, citrus fruits, bananas, raspberries, avocados, onions, fresh bagels and donuts, pizza, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, aspartame and all aged, cured, fermented, marinated, smoked, tenderized or nitrate-preserved meats.

For a couple of weeks, I was ravenously hungry, cranky, spaced out and vaguely, deprivedly resentful. But I felt, headache-wise, somewhat improved. I had six or nine migraines, but they were less severe. And, once I got used to it, I came to almost enjoy being on my diet, exploring my capacity for hunger and self-abnegation, obsessing over what foods I could eat, and how, and when. At the very least, the diet made my friends happy. Renouncing food, renouncing pills, is so often, in our time, seen as the right and righteous, pure and wholesome thing to do.

And then the headaches returned, with a vengeance.

Funny that Warner’s post was soon followed by MSN article Discover the 3-step System to Heal Headaches: Neurologist David Buchholz Shares Practical Advice on Preventing Pain, which is nothing more than an excerpt from Buchholz’s book.