Alright, I’m nearly three weeks into the migraine elimination diet. I spent the first two weeks trying my best to completely keep the no-no foods out of my diet. Here are the foods I avoided, but with some slight amendments:
1. Cured meats and processed meats
2. Aged cheeses
4. All alcohol
5. Nuts (amendment: I had items with nuts in them, but not very often)
7. Yogurt and sour cream
8. Citrus fruits
9. Bananas, papayas, avocados
10. Broad beans
11. Anything fermented or pickled, or heavy in vinegar (I’ve had light amounts of vinegar here and there)
12. Dried fruits (only a few of them are really triggers but I don’t bother with picking and choosing, it feels like too much work)
13. Any other items with activated yeasts like most breads and doughnuts (Okay I kind of ignored this one, because I grew desperate for things to eat at lunch time… like sandwiches! Also I completely forgot that yeasty breads were on the list until around week two when I revisited this list)
14. Soy products (I avoided them generally, but had soy sauce a few times… sometimes they add MSG to it, that’s really why it’s on the elimination list)
After the first two weeks passed, I added chocolate to my diet to see what happened. And I am DELIGHTED to note that it did not seem to impact the frequency or severity of the migraines. If I’d discovered I couldn’t eat chocolate I don’t know what I’d do… just too depressing a fate to imagine. I think the next item on the list to test will be alcohol.
I am only into this diet–which is temporary, remember–for three weeks and it has been very illuminating. Not just because I don’t have to conceive of a life without chocolate. First of all, it did pretty much immediately lessen the migraines significantly. I’d been having around 15 migraines a month (give or take) with an increase in frequency and severity around the time of menstruation. So 3-4 a week. When I started the diet, I had an 8-day streak without migraines. On the ninth day, I got a migraine but I unthinkingly ate several items that I shouldn’t have. I had a shake that contained papaya, a roast-beef sandwich, a pickle, and a tiny amount of chips. I’m only admitting this level of stupidity in the spirit of helpfulness because it’s really embarrassing to me that I genuinely ate that many things I shouldn’t have… I suspect the culprit was the cold cuts, but I won’t know for certain until I begin adding all these items individually to what I eat.
After that, I had a three-day streak without migraines and got one on the fourth day. The night before, I had dumplings, which contained soup broth. Again, an embarrassing admission. Do not forget this if you are on this diet, or avoiding MSG: SOUP IS YOUR ENEMY! Unless you make it yourself, that is. Mass-produced soup broth contains MSG very frequently. This includes bouillon. If you’re buying something from the store, read the ingredients thoroughly. And if you’re in a restaurant, honestly you should just not bother with most soups. Even if you ask your waiter whether or not they use MSG, they may not know for sure. The CHEF may not know, believe it or not. Especially in restaurants where there might be a language barrier.
Another three blessed days sans migraine, then got one pretty late in the day. It came shortly after I walked in a poorly ventilated stairwell that had just been painted. I haven’t often been in contact with paint fumes, but the one time I remember prior to this gave me a migraine within about 30 minutes of exposure.
I have not had a migraine in the past two days, and now we’re up to the present! Potentially very relevant side note: I got Botox injections (the traditional 31-count) five weeks ago. I did not note any change in my migraines until the day I began the food elimination diet. However, that was only two weeks after the Botox injections so I can not rule out the possibility that the Botox has been at least somewhat effective. If I’ve learned anything from chronic migraines, it’s that they are complicated. I will admit to hearing and reading about a few stories wherein a migraineur found their single magic bullet. And I am jealous and happy for them, however, most of us should probably expect to find a number of different migraine triggers, a number of different abortive medications that work or don’t work depending on the day, and prophylactic medications that have side effects that’ll make anyone cringe. It’s sobering. But I feel more hopeful now than ever. For the first time since the chronic migraines have began, I took a step for myself and got positive results. A significant decrease in migraines. Keep reading with me and maybe I’ll continue to have good news.
Since two of the three times I had the breakthrough migraines I ate something with MSG, I find myself more and more convinced that I have a sensitivity to it. Here’s the full list of things that seem to pretty regularly cause my migraines. I will add to it (or not, hopefully) as I continue to blog about this experience:
MIGRAINE TRIGGERS (for me):
MSG (probably); bleach fumes; natural gas fumes; paint fumes (probably); extreme stress; too much physical activity; champagne; hormonal changes around the time of menstruation
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some chocolate to eat, and this scenario to attempt to create: