Chronic Migraine, Diet, Triggers

Food Sensitivities: What I Miss and Crave

“I could never give up X.” That’s the response when I mention my diet to someone new.

And I think, “You could if it meant the difference between spending all your time in bed and getting to do the normal things of life.” At least that’s the case for me.

I was surprised to discover that I miss foods I never expected to miss and crave foods that I don’t particularly miss.

Toast is what I miss the very most. This is entirely unforeseen. I like toast, I don’t loooove toast. I won’t go so far as to say I could normally take it or leave it. Warm, slightly crispy bread with yumminess on top is hard to resist. But it’s not something I made frequently. I was more likely to let the last half of a loaf languish in the freezer than think to turn it into toast. Now I see a loaf of bread and immediately think of a perfectly toasted slice of bread topped with melty butter. The butter is absolute, the other toppings depend on the day: strawberry jam, honey, peanut butter. That’s another oddity — I don’t have a particular affinity for strawberry jam over any other kind, but it’s the only one that tops my imaginary toast. Despite missing toast so much, I only crave it when I see a loaf of sliced bread.

I crave Golden Grahams a lot. A lot. I have eaten them far less than toast in my lifetime, but I can’t shake the thought of Golden Grahams. This is definitely a craving, not a missing. I don’t think, wistfully, “Oh, how I miss Golden Grahams,” like I do with toast. Instead, I think about how delicious Golden Grahams would taste and the craving grows increasingly fierce. I finally gave in and got a box. They were as delicious as I expected.

At the grocery store, I crave graham crackers and animal crackers. I don’t think of either one any other time, but both call to me every time I’m food shopping. Again, neither have been staples in my diet, except for brief period when I worked late a lot and animal crackers were the most healthful option in the vending machine.

There are five restaurant dishes I crave, mostly from chain restaurants. That in itself is odd, since I used to choose local restaurants over chains almost all the time. The chain restaurant meals that I daydream about are Pei Wei’s honey seared chicken and crab wontons (my migraine comfort foods of choice), fish tacos from Rubio’s, and a burger and fries from Hillstone (formerly Houston’s). I’ve enjoyed all three of those a few times in the last year since the migraines that result from them respond very quickly to triptans. The two local foods I haven’t yet tested are the amazing tomato-mozzarella sandwich made with bread fresh from a wood-fired oven and the best waffle I’ve ever had. I suspect those will be indulgences soon.

There are many other things that I miss and/or crave with less regularity. Boston cream doughnuts have been high on the list recently, as have ginger scones. At first, I craved my homemade cookies a lot, particularly chocolate chip and shortbread. I’ve eaten them several times and they’ve been delicious, but no longer crave them as often anymore. I wish I could figure out how I stopped craving them.

Are you bored to tears by this foray into foodie blogging? If you haven’t given up reading yet, thanks for sticking with me. It’s been surprisingly cathartic to write about the food I wish I were eating. And I’ve realized that the one commonality of all these foods is wheat. Like there was any doubt I loved wheat.

I won’t lie and say I’m OK with the diet. I dislike having so little variety and not being able to cook with herbs or spices. I have to eat way more meat than I’d like. It takes an absurd amount of time to shop and prepare food. Sometimes I have to work really hard to finish the swiss chard, bok choi or fish (and other times I just give up, knowing that if I force myself to eat something I’m really not into, I’ll gag and it will be even harder to eat in the future). Day 2 of the rotation diet was unequivocally terrible until a couple weeks ago and day 3 is full of pungent food that’s hard to eat if I have a migraine. Still, the benefits continue to outweigh the frustrations. Most of the time.


14 thoughts on “Food Sensitivities: What I Miss and Crave”

  1. I’m totally with you on craving things you hardly ever ate after you can’t eat them anymore. I have even composed “Odes” to bread and such after eliminating gluten from my diet because of migraines. I would so rather not have terrible daggers in my brain than to enjoy a crusty piece of bread any day.

  2. Thanks for the salad dressing suggestions guys, I’ll give those a go. Pomegranate is an especially clever idea, being so tart.

    Honestly, I think this blog is one of the best migraine info resources I’ve found, period. Its great. And with bonus salad dressing recipe suggestions to boot. 🙂

  3. This blog is such a support for me. Thank you to all who are so encouraging and thanks to Kerrie who is such an inspiration.
    @ Amanda. I have made a salad dressing with herbs and avocado along with red onion and garlic in the vitamix. Of course, nothing can replace the tang of vinegar or lemon juice but this was pretty tasty.

  4. My most missed food is vinegar, which I never would have guessed would be a problem. But many recipes have it. I have no idea what to do to make salad dressing without it (and since lemon juice is also out its even harder). And tomatoes are a pretty big bummer too. And soy sauce. Its hard not to fall off the histamine/msg banned food wagon.

    Diet is huge. I have yet to meet a Dr. or neurologist that thinks much of diet as a way to control headaches though, which I think is really odd given all the anecdotal evidence I’m seeing of folks online and my obvious triggers (MSG and its natural analogs).

    1. Amanda,

      Some good substitutes for salad dressing are pomegranate juice and ginger. I haven’t tried this apple-carrot-beet-ginger juice in salad dressing, but I think it would be excellent: I think it tastes a little like orange juice, but that could be because my diet has been restricted for so long! I’ve heard that tamarind can be a good substitute for soy sauce. I haven’t tried it because I can’t do legumes any more.

      I understand why neurologists are skeptical. Diet is very hard to test scientifically and even the foods that are typically associated with migraine aren’t always triggers for everyone. It’s a hard thing to advise people in, especially because triggers can vary so dramatically. I hope that the histamine-food connection becomes better knowledge. I think it’s really the key for a lot of people (not nitrates or sulfates, for example).

      In any case, I’m glad the diet is helping you so much. I agree that it can be hard to stick to… I don’t always do it myself!

      Take care,

  5. I’m in the same boat. The diet isn’t easy (far from it!) but the benefits have been so dramatic and frankly life changing that I couldn’t imagine going back to eating the way I was. And get this, before I started making all my own food I didn’t cook AT ALL. Not only did I have to start making all my own food but I had to learn how to cook at the same time!

    The moral is, if I can do it, anyone can. 😛

    Diet is without a doubt the number one thing that made the biggest difference with my headaches.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Seth. I also think that if I can do this anyone can, but for a different reason. I’m a huge food person and love to bake and cook. I have given up a major recreational activity with this diet. But the tradeoff is worth it, so far. I’m glad you’re doing so much better.

      Take care,

  6. I was just told by a healing touch practitioner that I have to stop corn, soy, beef and salmon. I chose applied kinesiology because my sister got her lupus under control using it. Goodbye to any food with a label on it. On top of these daily headaches now I have to make everything from scratch. Is it okay to wish for a hole to open up under me and swallow me up?

    1. Julie, hang in there. Restricted diets are a lot to adjust to, but you’ll figure it out in time. Hopefully, making everything from scratch will be worth it because you feel so much better. Best of luck getting this sorted out.

      Take care,

  7. Kerrie
    A craving for bread and bread like things might be due to lack of fat do you think? I know when I was vegan I had to eat bread and sweets every day. It was an obsession. Since I am no longer vegan and since I eat more fat like coconut oil and butter from pastured animals I do not crave the breads. Just thought I’d throw in my two cents

    1. Julia, thanks for the suggestion. I actually get plenty of fat now. Bread and baked goods have always been my favorite, so it’s not too surprising that I still want them. I’m happier now that I have a couple grains in my diet, but I’d love a bagel!

      Take care,

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