Chronic Migraine, Diet, Triggers

Blood Work Confirms the Stupidity of Months of Malnutrition

Eight vials of blood, one fainting spell, and three pages of lab results later, and I’m seeing just how much harm my months of malnutrition have caused. Year after year, my blood work is unfailing perfect other than showing slightly elevated cholesterol. I didn’t really think my “diet” would throw things too far out of whack. Boy, was I mistaken.

After five months of living on chicken, white rice, and gluten-free oats, and four months of compromised nutrition before that, my liver enzymes and thyroid hormones are elevated, my blood sugar is low, my folic acid is deficient, my cholesterol is through the roof, and I have a host of other alarmingly elevated or depleted levels. None of the damage is permanent and most of it can be reversed through diet, but the results are alarming nonetheless.

I knew I was taking a risk, but I didn’t expect to see evidence of it so quickly. I should be grateful that my body recognized it was starving and is working to protect itself, but mostly I’m angry at myself for thinking that malnutrition was a wise choice even though it reduced the frequency and severity of my migraines.

While going back to a well-rounded diet would be the quickest route to getting my body back on track nutritionally, I’m waiting until I get guidance from the dietician (tomorrow!) to figure out how to reintroduce foods in a way that tests whether certain food chemicals are triggers. Until then, I’m eating three servings of nutrient-dense foods each day. My brain fog is much better and my fatigue has changed from a body-filled-with-sandbags sensation to more of an achy feeling. The migraines haven’t drastically increased in severity or frequency so far.

Most notably, I’m not longer thinking of every food as a potential migraine trigger, but as an unknown. I’ve also recognized that my migraine symptoms vary throughout the day whether or not I eat a trigger food, so I’m not scrutinizing every symptom and connecting it to foods unless the reaction is obvious. These may seem like imperceptible shifts, but they allow me to feel freer and less afraid of food.

It’s astonishing to think I went from not believing food triggered my migraines to being so suspicious of food that I starved myself of nutrition to feel better. As if I needed more proof that the desperation of intractable chronic migraine messes with the mind.

7 thoughts on “Blood Work Confirms the Stupidity of Months of Malnutrition”

  1. Sorry for seeing this and answering a bit late (actually tried in April, but was blocked as “SPAM”). As for your predicament, maybe we should step outside the box: if you eat things and get migraine (or other conditions) while others eat the same thing and don’t, then maybe there are two options: changing the food, which you seem have tried with mixed results. Or changing your own body’s neural response. I have had some interesting experiences with EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique (based on the original Thought Field Therapy by Dr. Roger Callahan, then developed into EFT by Gary Craig). There’s also “Faster EFT” by Robert G. Smith, all of about which videos can be found on Youtube (not sure about posting links here). Also they often have their own dedicated websites. It triggers acupuncture or acupressure points, so, despite it first looking like some hocus-pocus, the latter are by now recognized by Western medicine, so EFT sits on a framework of evidence although approaching the trigger points in an unconventional way. One caveat: it does not work the first time, it may not the second time. Like with affirmations, this is a thing to be applied a few times a day for maybe several weeks.

  2. Darragh, it’s not so much that I’ve been following dietary advice, but that I’m trying to determine why I feel worse every time I eat and why sometimes it triggers migraines. I don’t know if the problem is the act of eating or particular foods. If I could eat whatever real food I wanted with no consequences, I certainly would!


  3. Sorry to hear. Nut the ol’ ayurvedics have a rule: eat what you feel like eating. Now, in the ‘modern’ world that might be a bit of a stretch, with babies already weaned on artificial vanilla flavor etc. But I never followed any dietary advice all my life and I’ve seen the ‘scientific’ opinion change about five times since my twenties. So at least four times I’d been wrong …

  4. Thanks for the suggestions and support. I was pretty down on myself for putting myself at risk, but it’s true that desperation will drive us to do many unwise things! My talk with the dietician last week was really helpful and I’m slowly reintroducing foods to my diet.


  5. Read the book,

    Conquering Arthritis: What Doctors Don’t Tell You Because They Don’t Know by Barbara Allan (Jan 1, 2009)

    Its all about how to test yourself for food sensitivities and how to cook to avoid them.

    Thanks for writing this blog. I’m not alone.

  6. I can’t blame you for doing whatever you can to cut back on your migraines. We have all done things like that, likely out of desperation to make the pain stop.

    I get chronic migraines too, and managing my nutrition and weight have been a struggle. I’ve followed your blog for some time now and found it really inspiring. I recently started blogging with a friend about health. She doesn’t have migraine, I do. So our approaches are different but we are both committed to living well. I don’t know if anything I write about will help you as you have helped me, but you are welcome to check it out.

    Good luck on your wellness journey!

  7. Thanks for sharing your story here. I’m coming to the same conclusions that my migraines are less about food and more about various other things. Hope you find your answer soon!

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