We all know the saying you are what you eat. Well, while it might not be quite that simple (thankfully!), there is an element of truth to it.
This link between your diet and your health is one which some migraine sufferers know only too well. Certain foods such as chocolate, cured meats, and caffeinated drinks are all commonly cited as migraine triggers, but it can be even more complicated than that.
As all migraine sufferers are different, so are their triggers, and identifying what could be helping to trigger a migraine attack is not easy for this reason. It’s an important thing to do however, as prevention in the case of migraines is far better than trying to relieve the pain of a migraine once one has struck.
Perhaps the most effective way to identify which food(s) may be triggering your attacks is to do an elimination diet. This is where you remove any foods which you suspect may be triggering your attacks or worsening your symptoms, and then reintroduce these foods at a later date, one food group at a time, to see if your attacks are worse following the introduction. If they are, it’s a fair assumption that the food you reintroduced is a trigger.
The first part of an elimination diet is the 2-3 weeks during which you cut out all possible trigger foods. If your migraine symptoms improve, it’s a safe assumption to make that one or more of those foods was helping to trigger your migraines.
The next phase is to reintroduce a food or food group (citrus fruits may be an example of a food group which is reintroduced as opposed to an individual food). This reintroduction should be done over 2-3 days, and any attacks or symptoms which are experienced during this time carefully recorded. If reintroducing a food doesn’t trigger an attack, it’s likely that that food will be safe for you to eat. If it triggers an attack, you may need to cut it out of your diet.
Normally an elimination diet lasts a total of between 5 and 6 weeks, and should only be done under the supervision of a health professional such as a doctor or dietitian – since such diets increase the risk of a nutritional deficiency if the diet is not followed correctly.