Migraines Part 1: The Migraine Diet

A Life with Migraines

One of my first memories is having dye put in my veins for an MRI because I had headaches all. the. time.  I continued having headaches and migraines throughout my childhood and young adult life. As I entered my mid to late 20’s they got worse.  After having my 2nd and youngest baby, the frequency and severity became unbearable.  I was having migraines like clockwork and daily headaches.  I couldn’t function when a migraine hit,  I would literally just have to sleep, sometimes for a couple of days.

Paleo and Migraines

During this time my family and I started a strict paleo diet.  I researched the paleo lifestyle for a while.  I read testimony after testimony of people who had frequent migraines then went paleo and quit having them altogether.  I was eager to begin my headache-free life. Unfortunately for me it was the exact opposite.  I had the worst migraines of my life after going strict paleo.  Something had to change.

Medicated Migraines

May of 2012 my neurologist put me on Maxalt. I had taken a drug like it before that didn’t work so I was very hesitant, not to mention that I hate the way meds make me feel.  I used Maxalt as a way to stop the migraine pain after it started and it worked…I would have to sleep for a little while but at least I was functioning.  Maxalt worked at stopping the migraine once it started but the medicine didn’t prevent or change the frequency of the migraines.

Food is the best Medicine

October 2012 changed my life. I had a 3 week-long span of daily headaches with migraines every 5 days. I was so discouraged and desperate.  I felt low and just sad.  What happened next changed my life.  I went to my neurologist, Dr. P, and said I’m willing to do anything I couldn’t function.  Dr. P left the room and when he came back he said “I don’t normally give this to my clients because its overwhelming but I think you can actually do it.”  With that he handed me a stack of papers.  Enter the Migraine and Headache Diet!

The Migraine and Headache Diet

The migraine diet is laid out into foods that are permissible and foods to avoid. He told me to take the foods in the avoid column and keep them out for a month and then add them in one by one to see if any of them were triggers. Bananas, avocados, olives, eggs, yogurt and so many more.  What the heck?!  I was eating these foods ALL the time.  A good number of the avoid foods were my favorite “paleo” foods and were a daily part of my diet. But again I was desperate.  I took all of the foods in the avoid column out immediately. Dr. P also put me on 400 mg of magnesium a day.

One week later I stopped having daily headaches. 

I have been on the diet over a year and the migraines are getting better.  I still get migraines once a month, but the pain and frequency are changing. Instead of 5 migraines a month with awful daily headaches, I have 1 or 2 at the most and the pain is much less.

Below is a list of foods (potential migraine triggers) that I avoid:

  • more than 2 cups of caffeine per day
  • energy drinks
  • any and all fake sweeteners
  • all processed meat
  • all nut butters
  • soy sauce
  • yeast extracts
  • cultured dairy products (buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt)
  • aged cheeses
  • fresh made bread
  • yeast breads
  • eggs ( I can have 2 a week)
  • chocolate
  • all beans
  • onions
  • olives
  • pickles
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • figs
  • raisins
  • papaya
  • red plums
  • sauerkraut
  • sunflower and sesame seeds
  • canned and processed foods
  • pizza
  • msg
  • anything that has natural flavorings, msg, or yeast extract in ingredient list
  • Chinese food
  • any fermented or pickled foods
  • seasoned salts
  • most store-bought salad dressings
  • aged meat
  • game meat
  • organ meat
  • fish except salmon and tuna
  • food with nitrites and nitrates
  • alcohol
  • red food coloring

This is a long list and I understand why people would find it overwhelming. For me its been life changing.  When people comment on what I can’t eat and how sad it is, I think of how good I feel compared to how I used to feel. If you have ever suffered from migraines you know how hopeless it can be and most people don’t understand, they’re like, “Take a goody powder.”

Ridiculous.

I do have other migraine triggers like strong smells (perfumes, candles, air fresheners..I mean just open a window, no one needs 35 plug-ins! it’s poison…I could go on and on here but I will stop) and weather- yes weather! It’s a real trigger.

There is no one cure for migraines.  Every migraine is different just like every person is different. This is just what’s helping me.  It was hard at first to wrap my mind around the fact that these healthy foods cause me to have migraines. Then my awesome husband said “Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.”  That has helped me so much!

 

Gluten Free Goodness Muffins

This recipe is easy and delicious! If you are just going gluten free these are a must try.

Here are a few variations you could do:

Replace dates with cranberries and add a 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. Add in a 1/2 cup of fresh berries, they taste amazing against the chocolate. Put in a couple tbs of pureed pumpkin or sweet potato. Blend in the carrots instead of folding them in at the end. Get creative…The goodness is endless! Enjoy!

Lemon Pie (Old Fashioned)

I rarely follow recipes.  I’m the throw a little of this, add a little of that type of cook. It works for me. However, I love this little cookbook from the 50’s and I want to try and cook the food as the recipes are written (SO hard). This lemon Pie is delicate and soft. It combines the perfect amount of sweet and tart. Enjoy!

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Homemade broth vs store bought

Homemade beef broth pictured left – Swanson beef broth right.

I enjoy a good hearty broth. It helps me feel better when I’m sick and adds a ton of flavor and nutrients in cooking.   I used to buy various broths on my weekly grocery trip. Buying a good brand with no MSG or yeast extracts can cost up to $3. I recently read an article from Marksdailyapple that got me thinking about the health benefits of homemade broth as well as the super low cost. So, I sought out a local farmer who sold marrow bones from his grass fed cows.  I bought 20lbs of bones for around $11 (I was spending this about every two weeks buying cartons). Buying from the local farmers is much cheaper and it makes me feel better knowing the source.  As you can see in the picture above the color is completely different and the store bought doesn’t come close to the amazing flavor of the homemade batch.  Its super easy to make…. So lets get to it!

Ingredients:

Large pot with lid or crock pot

Bones (Beef, Chicken, Turkey, etc)

Veggies (Carrots, Celery, Onions, Peppers, whatever you like)

Apple cider vinegar- this helps pull nutrients out of the bones

Salt and pepper to taste

Strainer

Method:

If you are using beef bones make sure to roast them in the oven first. It isnt necessary but the flavor of the broth will be richer.

Put everything in pot or crock pot, cover with water and let the cooking begin!

If using a pot on the stove, bring the broth to a rolling boil then reduce to simmer. If using a crockpot, turn on high for several hours then to low. Simmer until done. I simmer beef broth for about 48 hrs and chicken broth for around 24 hrs.

When broth is done strain the liquid.  This will ensure that any bone bits and unwanted vegetable pieces dont get in.

Its that easy!!! Enjoy!

 

 

Blueberry Muffins!!!!!!!!!

 

I LOVE blueberries- well all summer fruit for that matter.  Our friend Matt was coming over for dinner who also loves blueberries so I thought I would make these muffins for dessert.  They were delicious- even better with coffee the next morning.

Ingredients for Streusel Top:

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter

Ingredients for Muffins:

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh blueberries

Method:

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Stir streusel ingredients until blended and cut in butter with a knife, then set aside.
  • In a large bowl beat milk, oil, vanilla, and egg until blended.
  • Add 2 cups of flour, sugar and baking powder all at once.
  • Stir until just moist.
  • Gently add blueberries.
  • Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  • Sprinkle each with 1 tbsp of streusel.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove muffin cups immediately from pan and place on cooling rack.
  • Eat and enjoy!!!

Tuscaloosa Farmer’s Market

 

This is my table.  I spent $11 on everything you see and I got it all at our local farmer’s market….

Going to the farmer’s market has become a part of our Saturday  morning routine.  We get up, make coffee, eat a quick breakfast and head downtown.  I enjoy going to the farmer’s market for so many reasons.  It is local food, affordable, seasonal, nutritious and there is an underlying community spirit there.  The cost of produce at the grocery store is continuing to rise.  Since I am the one that mostly handles our food and budget I hate buying a PINT of blueberries for $4 or squash at $2.50 per lb.  I mean something is wrong with that.  It’s satisfying to know that I am feeding my family good food at low cost when we go to the farmer’s market every week.  I love knowing that those tomatoes in the picture above actually ripened on the vine and not in a truck carrying them thousands of miles.  Let’s support the local farmers and eat fresh food!

Visit  http://www.tuscaloosafarmersmarket.com/ for info about the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market.

Food Pyramid

I love food remedy books.  I am constantly amazed by what I find in these books. This morning I was thumbing through The Doctor’s Book of Food Remedies when I found the Asian Food Pyramid.

I should stop here and say that Asian (mainly chinese and japanese) food is one of my favorites and I am terrible at cooking it.  One of my favorite books is Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat by Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle.  A great read!

O.k now back to the subject.  The Asian food pyramid is different from the US pyramid in a couple of ways.  Below are both the US and Asian food pyramid….I find it very interesting and I am curious how much healthier we would be in general if we watched not only our portions but the amount of hormone induced meat we consume.

Asian Food Pyramid

US Food Pyramid


Thank God for rain, family and…collard greens!!

I’m sitting here with a hot cup of coffee watching the rain pour down. There is nothing like an Alabama thunderstorm.  The greyness of the sky makes the grass a deep beautiful green that I can’t get enough of.

Today is my brother Shane’s birthday and I have been thanking God for him today. He has always called me sister and that’s to this day one of my favorite things he does.  Last night we ate with the fam and the conversation turned to collard greens- Shane had given me a bundle from his garden two days before.  I spent a good hour cutting them and preparing them night before last and cooked them all night and all day yesterday.  My mouth waters when I think of eating collard greens and cornbread. Mmmmmm.  My family was asking how I cook them and I thought I would share with you…this has been a work in progress and is still in progress.  They are wonderful when seasoned right and terrible if not.  Here are a few pointers to get you started.

Method: A little bit of this and a little bit of that…..

  • Wash the greens very very well.  I usually clean out the sink or a big bowl and soak them in water before washing them.
  • After they are washed you want to cut the stem off and set it aside.  I will take about 3 or 4 leaves at a time and do this.
  • After they are de-stemmed roll the leaves up and cut them. I like to cut them into long strips but you can cut them however you like.  You can also buy them from the store that are already cut and washed but I prefer them out of the garden.
  • After you have cut all of the leaves, cut the stems into small pieces.
  • Put all the cut leaves and stems into a big pot.
  • I always add a ham hock or two when I cook greens. It flavors them nicely.
  • I also use a couple of chopped onions, beef or chicken broth, peppers, pepper juice, a little bit of sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, and a couple cloves of fresh garlic.
  • After I have everything in my pot I pour enough water to reach the top of the collards.
  • Bring to a boil and let them cook.  I usually bring mine to a simmer after they have been boiling for about 30 minutes.  I let them simmer until tender.

Don’t forget the cornbread!!!!