15 Jan Healing Headaches Through Food
I firmly believe everyone suffers from headaches. At least if you work in corporate America you do. Headaches come in all different shapes and forms. Some of the more common offenders are your migraines, which are associated with a throbbing in the head often accompanied by sensitivity to light and sound as well as vomiting and nausea. Then you have your cluster headaches, which tend to be the most debilitating. Cluster headaches last from 15 minutes to sometimes longer than 3 hours and typically occur in clusters. They often come on when you are sleeping and they cause terrible, stabbing pain on one side of the head, usually behind the eye. Then of course there are your tension headaches. These are the most common and are caused by contraction or an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
The trick to minimizing or avoiding headaches is to avoid the elements that cause them. So what causes them, you ask? Well, that’s the tough part. What acts as a trigger for one person may be the cure for another. Typically the best way to find out what might be behind your suffering (especially if it’s food related) is to keep a food diary. Now I’m not talking about tracking your calories, we’ve all gone crazy at least once in our life trying to do that and as I am sure you would agree, once is enough! With this diary you make note of what you’ve had to eat and then wait about 20 minutes and make an additional note of how your body reacted to that food. Do this for about a week and you’ll start to notice patterns that may help you to learn what foods react well with your body and what foods you should avoid.
In general, here are a few of the common offenders to be on the lookout for:
- Dairy products – like cheese and ice cream
- Breads high in yeast – like sourdough
- Fermented foods – like pickles and ketchup
- Legumes – especially dried bean
- Soy products – especially processed ones
- Nuts and seeds – particularly peanut butter
- Chocolate – I know… so sad!
- Meats – again, particularly processed meats
- Artificial sweeteners
- Sulfates – found primarily in red wine… another sad one!
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
The best way to be proactive and avoid headaches is to keep your blood sugar stable. I’m not a fan of eating small meals all day long, especially if you are trying to lose weight or at least not gain wait. In the end the calories always add up. Instead, try eating just a scoop of brown rice, millet, kasha or quinoa (even though it’s technically a seed) at every meal. This will help to keep your blood sugar steady in between meals by slowing the release of glucose into your body. Also, if you are NOT already a coffee drinker, try having a strong cup of coffee at the onset of a headache. This will help to constrict the dilated blood vessels, which will help to stop the headache dead in it’s tracks!
If you suffer from recurring headaches, be sure to consult your doctor for medical advice.