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Drastic Elimination Diet for Migraine Triggers: What Was I Thinking?

File my plan for a drastic migraine and headache elimination diet under “What was I thinking?” In the innumerable elimination diets I’ve tried — whether based on eliminating common headache triggers or foods I tested intolerant to — I have never found a food trigger. Never. Even when I stuck to the diet for three or four months.

I discovered that peanut butter, beans and legumes, nuts, and now berries are triggers for me by noticing how I felt after eating them. Keeping my diet to “real” foods without additives makes this easier. Having already identified and eliminated some triggers that were prominent in my diet probably helps too. Eating foods in their regular role in your diet is much more accurate than trying to isolate variables that are impossible to separate.

Another reason I’ve decided against the diet is that inadequate nutrition for even a short time can contribute mightily to headaches and migraine attacks. The link is unmistakable for me.

Eating is a fundamental part of life. Something you do so often shouldn’t become a just-because-I-have-to experience. Food is inherently enjoyable and brings people together. Nourishing yourself with food is part of taking care of yourself in general. I can’t overlook the immense importance of that, particularly because I’m not so good at self-care.

My friend with celiac disease mistrusted food so much that she didn’t want to eat. She became so obsessed with ingredients that her behavior was the same as if she had an eating disorder. I can see how easy it would be for me to follow the same path. Now that she’s eased up, she feels pretty much the same and is a voracious eater for whom eating is a pleasure.

Not only is it physically and emotionally unhealthy to deprive yourself of the vast majority of foods just because they might be a problem, the diet’s efficacy is suspect. I may be fed up (ha, ha) with migraine, but moderation is laudable. And probably more useful.

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This is About Me

I was at a park when my niece was three or four and she asked me to play in the sand with her. There was some reason that I didn’t want to do it, which I told her. Her response was, “This isn’t about you Aunt Kerrie.” I hear her little voice in my head every time I feel like I’m writing too much about myself here.

Usually I pay attention to it. In doing this, though, I’ve forgotten to update you on my progress. So, this is about me.

I haven’t had acupuncture since before Thanksgiving and can’t see that being without has made any difference. I’ve admitted to myself that my superior results after that one visit was probably not related to the acupuncture at all.

I stopped drinking the medicinal tea at Thanksgiving time too. I didn’t even finish the first week’s dose, so I have no idea if it would have been beneficial. I intend to give it another try in the next couple weeks. I stopped both this and the acupuncture because of outside circumstances, and will resume my visits in the next couple weeks. I haven’t given up, but my hopes aren’t high.

My low-pain stretch was brought to a halt Christmas Eve. I’ve had lots of migraines since then. It’s been great to know that the high energy self that I so miss isn’t gone forever. However, I’m more angry about my headaches than I was a few months ago. The what ifs are now abundant.

Legumes and I still don’t get along. I’ve stopped testing specific beans. Maybe some won’t cause pain, but why risk it? I’m starting to associate the smell of peanut butter with pain, which is actually a good thing. I’ll be thrilled when that smell no longer makes me wistful.

I didn’t realize how down I was about all this, but writing this post has made it pretty clear. It never ends and I get so tired of it. It’s hard to not feel defeated. Ugh, maybe it’s better to not reflect on my life.

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Tofooey

Tofu was the latest test subject for determining which legumes are headache triggers for me. I won’t bother trying to replicate this study. The answer is as clear as it was for peanuts, sunflower seeds and black beans.

It seems obvious that I should simply sidestep legumes. (Just had an image of walking past Mr. Peanut on the street and not making eye contact with him.) But it’s not that easy. I’m torn between wanting to find a legume I can trust and honoring my pain-avoidance instinct.

Any suggestions for a smart(er) approach to testing food triggers?

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Legumes a Migraine Trigger

In response to Trigger-Happy, Christina pointed out that she saw a pattern in my triggers. Peanuts aren’t actually nuts, they are legumes. Beans are also legumes, so it may follow that legumes are the culprit.

Epicurious defines legumes as:

Any of thousands of plant species that have seed pods that split along both sides when ripe. Some of the more common legumes used for human consumption are beans, lentils, peanuts, peas and soybeans. Others, such as clover and alfalfa, are used as animal fodder. When the seeds of a legume are dried, they’re referred to as pulses. The high-protein legumes are a staple throughout the world. They contain some vitamin B, carbohydrates, fats and minerals.

Many common foods are categorized as legumes. The links provide lists of the foods included in each of the subcategories. Some foods that I never think of as legumes include green beans (they’re a green vegetable, not a bean!), split peas and miso.

I am, of course, reluctant to test different legumes to see if they are triggers. Not only because I don’t want to have a migraine, I don’t want to learn that I have to stop eating them. And because I’m still working on housewifing and Hart’s picky about fruits and vegetables. It figures that two vegetables that he actually likes would trigger my headaches.

*sigh*