Chronic Migraine, Coping, Diet, Treatment, Triggers

Trusting Myself With the Failsafe Diet

Have I lost my mind? This is what I wonder daily when I consider this low amine, low salicylate, and additive-free diet that I’m still on. I mean, seriously. I’ve severely restricted what I eat based on guidelines from one hospital in Australia, which uses the diet to treat behavior problems in children, not migraine or headache. I rely on The Failsafe Diet Explained for accessible, concise information about the diet, a website written by someone only known as alienrobotgirl who doesn’t share her background or credentials.

“Trust yourself” is the best migraine (and life!) advice I’ve ever received, and it is what I’m trying to do with this diet. Trusting that I know what I feel like on a baseline diet of chicken, unenriched white rice, and gluten-free oatmeal. Not just an overall pain rating, but where the pain is located and what it feels like, how much energy and stamina I have, how dizzy and nauseated I am not. And trusting that I can identify how those things change when I test foods that don’t agree with me.

Last week I tested short grain brown rice. Within 24 hours, I had the most painful migraine I’ve had in months. While it seems impossible that brown rice could trigger a massive migraine, there were no other obvious variables at play, not even weather. This is insufficient evidence for any scientific trial, but I know how I felt. I’m not going to swear off brown rice forever, nor am I going to preach to the world that it is evil. I’m simply going to be aware of how my body seemed to react and avoid it for now.

This diet is a wacky experiment with variables that are impossible to isolate. Part of me wants to say it is all crap and move on. But I cannot deny how much better I have felt on it. I’m a poster child for intractable chronic migraine. If something decreases my head pain and isn’t going to hurt me (once I improve my nutrition), then I’m going to stick with it and slowly reintroduce foods to test them, rather than ditching it all and eating whatever I want.

I’m not going to declare that the Failsafe diet is be the solution for everyone (nor am I sure it is the solution for me), but maybe there’s something to it for some of us with refractory migraine. Scientific studies show that some people have trouble processing lactose or gluten. Is it too far-fetched to believe that other components of our food could be difficult for some bodies to process?

I’m still skeptical, but I’m also still on the diet. I’m the only one who knows how I feel — that makes me the expert here. I have to trust myself on this one.

5 thoughts on “Trusting Myself With the Failsafe Diet”

  1. Hi! I know this post is a little old, but I came across it because I’m currently on a crazy “migraine diet” that a clinical nutritionist suggested to me — it sounds pretty similar to yours! My doctor has a PhD in biochemistry, so a lot of his recommendations are based on how the chemical make up of foods can affect your body. One of the things he told me is that the husk of brown rice is significantly worse for migraneurs than white rice because of the way our bodies break it down. Just wanted to let you know that it makes a lot of sense, given what he’s told me, for brown rice to be a trigger for you! Good luck with your diet and with your healing – and thank you for your website, it’s been an incredible resource to find as I struggle with my own daily migraines.

    1. Thanks for the information and the kind words, Caroline. I’ve come along way on diet stuff, but haven’t retested brown rice. I’ll definitely keep this in mind. Best of luck with the diet and finding an effective treatment.


  2. Dear Kerrie, You indeed are not nuts! Both my boyfriend and I get migraines, and both of us have been helped immensely going off all gluten (including trace amounts) and reducing both our salicylate and amine load. Just recently I have come to realize that tannins and amines plus histamines play a bigger part for me than the salicylates. I was all enthusiastic about the extra things I could eat when whammo I got more migraines likely from the extra tannins I was eating. It is complicated, but worth nutting out. We are all a little different after all. The amines/histamines are particularly complicated since everything must be very fresh. Plus stress can make one’s own body produce extra histamines all by itself. Thus meditation, exercise, music, creativity all helps. I find too taking extra calcium, magnesium and vitamin C helps a great deal–especially just before going to bed at night.

  3. You might already know about this neurologist but I just stumbled across his blog a few days ago: Dr Charles Matthews of the North Carolina Comprehensive Headache Clinic. He wrote about two underlying causes of migraine:

    1. Mitochondrial dysfunction
    2. Food and Environmental Sensitivities, trigeminal nerve and brain artery inflammation

    Anyway, his blog entries go along way at explaining migraine and definitely address the dietary aspects of migraine, not just drug-mediated treatments. The main website is good but look for the blog under the Resources tab.

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