I used to get 20-25 migraines per month. It was definitely a chronic thing for me. I was desperate and started looking for things I could do to help get more relief. Diet was just one of the many things I changed in my life, but definitely one that had the biggest impact.
So, when I realized there is actually a month set aside connected to nutrition (it was March), I was curious and decided to check it out and find out what exactly National Nutrition Month is all about and what could it mean for us as migraine sufferers?
National Nutrition month was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and was formed for informational and educational purposes. It’s an annual campaign that focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
1. Eating for migraines.
Of course, if you are a migraine sufferer, you are probably well aware of the importance of maintaining healthy eating habits. Personally, I have learned the importance of healthy eating over the years as I have tried to maintain my health and lessen the frequency and severity of migraines. I have especially found that totally avoiding my food triggers has been pivotal in the prevention and changing the frequency of migraine "attacks."
Still, I will be the first to admit that it takes work to maintain healthy days—especially migraine-free days.
2. Maintain healthy habits, even when they're hard (or you have a migraine).
A healthy diet isn’t the only thing that is important to keep migraines at bay and remain on top of them. This also involves routinely exercising. Obviously, it is almost impossible to exercise when you have a migraine, but when I have a healthy exercise routine through the week, it acts as a preventative—relieving stress, which can so often trigger migraines. It also involves maintaining good sleep hygiene, staying hydrated, eating regular healthy meals, and managing expectations.
I have had to learn to incorporate all of these healthy habits into my life to maintain control and achieve prevention of my migraines. It has most certainly worked for me. When I keep on this healthy path, I feel so much better.
3. Shift your mindset.
As migraineurs, we need to have the right mindset to be able to cope with the fear of the onset of migraines as well as learning how to deal with the pain when a migraine strikes. While some medications and treatments might be effective, those treatments don’t replace a migraine-friendly lifestyle.
When I first became aware that my migraines were chronic, I fought hard to regain what I thought I had lost. I also wanted control over my life, and yet it is hard to be in control with the unknowns of Migraine. I didn’t start to improve until years later when I had a change of perspective and started becoming aware of how, in my own life, incorporating holistic and natural remedies could have a life-changing effect. I started thinking more about the “whole person” rather than just confining my thought process to the instant pain and debilitation of Migraine.
4. Commit to change.
Another note about attitude—it was years before I heard Migraine referred to as a neurological disorder or even understood that migraine is a disorder, one that is always present, even between headache attacks. So I decided that I would commit to living my lifestyle in the healthiest way possible. I changed my way of eating, learned my triggers, incorporated exercise and other holistic remedies into my life. I began eating wholesome, clean foods, drank plenty of water, maintained healthy sleep habits, exercised, got regular massages, and treated my body with respect.
5. Don’t give up.
Keep in mind that on those “bad migraine” days, you should cut yourself some slack—and then get right back on track as soon as you can.
I know that with the struggle and obstacles we have to overcome—for some on a daily basis—it can be challenging to meet your nutritional needs. When you are in the throes of a migraine, often the last thing you want to think about is eating and drinking water—yet the catch there is that we need to eat and we need to stay hydrated. It takes work and effort to stay hydrated and make sure you do eat something.
There are still days when it is hard—I am not devoid of migraines, but over time, I have seen a 90 percent positive change in my migraine frequency and severity which is huge for me.
So how can you stay on the right nutritional path, remain active, all the while not triggering your next migraine attack? I know what has helped in my own life—a little of which I have shared with you today—healthy, clean eating, exercising, good sleeping habits, knowing my triggers, and being kind to my body.
If you don’t do these things already, determine that you are going to try to change your lifestyle and add some holistic remedies into your day to day. Start by keeping a migraine journal. It helps you to see patters with diet and environmental things that can shed light on what areas of your life you made need to change. If you don’t have a migraine journal, download a copy and get started.