Food trigger avoidance - need convincing!

Hi everyone,

I should really give a quick background as I’ve posted a bit in the last month - but firstly I wanted to say how happy I am to have found this forum. It’s nice to hang out in a place where I don’t feel like I’m going mad :smiley:

My smugness at avoiding the “family curse” of migraine lasted until just before I turned 40 last year when wham bam had my first major attack - no headache, but the vestibular symptoms we know and love (NOT) the feeling of unreality/ hyper anxiety, noise sensitivity, visual symptoms etc. I have disequilibrium, and the feeling that the world is “wobbling” rather than a classic spinning/vertigo Interestingly I had had 2 episodes of aura in the past 3 years but didn’t associate them with migraine as nothing happened after them. In the intervening I’ve had CT and MRI (normal - although only made it through 2 of the MRI passes as it was day 4 on topamax and that made me feel like I was living in a washing machine). Hearing test normal and normal ear fluid. Have only seen Neurologist once gave a Dx of vestibular migraine and the topomax, but on phone follow up said to stop it given my symptoms and go back to the GP to do the medication merry-go-round. Been taking metoprolol for 6 months (started 50mg 2xday, down to 25mg 2xday to try and lose some weight and manage the side effects). I also take 400mg magnesium, feverfew and B multi each day. Something in this combo (probably feverfew) has certainly managed to kill 90% of my nausea, which has been a blessing at least.

Anyhow after that long winded intro:
I’m struggling with the idea of the “migraine diet” . In a childish way I feel so P*ssed off and cheated by the impacts of the MAV that I resent having to give up everything else I love and at the moment I’m just throwing all my toys out of the pram and refusing to do it, and trying to pretend things are still ‘normal’. And to be honest I struggle with the idea that overnight things I’d been eating up until then suddenly became a problem. It just doesn’t seem logical. Having said that I have given up red wine (think that might have been a trigger), chocolate, citrus, cheese (except for the occasional goats cheese (non aged)) and onions, and I probably never have any MSG (don’t eat takeaway and cook from scratch 99.9% of the time). I can’t say all these eliminations have made any kind of impact on my symptoms. There seems no rhyme or reason to the good and bad days (although I am beginning to think there might be a hormonal component) So as a result I struggle with going the “whole hog” on the diet - but this week has been a really bad week so I’m back to considering it again. Also I’ve got the chance to go to the UK for a month and I’d really like to but really worry about travelling and being away when I feel this way, so feel like I should be doing more to try and help myself.

I’ve read the diet thread in the archives, but just wanted to see if anyone has any other advice / suggestions / experiences to share? I’m going to try and get an appointment with Waterston in Melb but that could be a few months, and don’t really want to change meds before then as the metoprolol is helping somewhat.

Thanks for making it this far! :smiley:

Hi Gabrielle,

The diet thing appears to work/affect some people but not others. The figure of about a third comes to mind but I may be plucking that out of the air. I believe a lot of doctors recommend it as a first line attempt at getting things under control.
The appealing thing about the migraine diet is of course not relying on medication - some people get great results through diet modification alone.

My doctor (Halmagyi in Sydney) advises avoiding red wine and MSG. Red wine is pretty clear cut and easy to avoid but MSG is a lot harder as it’s in so many things. Yummy things.

I’m currently doing really well on Prothiaden and don’t really worry about diet at all (although red wine, especially too much is not good for me) as I’ve never noticed any obvious triggers (other than too much Coke Zero). Having said that I do find that upsetting the equalibrium is fraught. I think most people on this board experience this to some degree. So as far as possible it’s best to minimise change - that means a regular sleep schedule, not too much alcohol, regular mild exercise, minimise stress and so on. If I’m jet lagged, tired, drink too much, or am sick with something else (eg a cold/flu) I find I’m much more vulnerable to migraine activity.

Hope that helps

Thanks Vic - good to know you’ve found a drug that helps you, and thanks for your thoughts on the food side of things. I’m working hard at the rest of the lifestyle changes. Fortunately for me we “tree-changed” about 5 years ago and I said goodbye to city living and a manic corporate life and hello working from home and growing vegetables and playing with piggies. Maybe that’s the problem - not enough stress! :lol:

Hi again Gabrielle,

There is actually evidence for “weekend migraine”, that is, once stress is gone it can bring on migraine. A colleague of mine for example (a lady in her early 60s) gets them quite regularly. I would suggest that what is at play here is again upsetting the equalibrium - the migraine brain really doesn’t seem to cope well with change.

Having said that, kind of the reverse is also true in that migraines can change over a lifetime. I think we spend a lot of time trying to pin point what set things off (a normal human response I think to look for cause and effect) but we can’t always figure out what happened. Some people seem to “grow out of” migraines, others have no history that they know of then “bam” - welcome to migraine world. Also, as one of the doctors who’ve posted on here says (Rauch I think) that while we can control certain things through medication and lifestyle factors sometimes we don’t know what happens. I’m paraphrasing but he uses the analogy of a swimming pool where the water is lapping at the migraineur’s nose - we grow taller (lifestyle) and drain some water from the pool (medication) but if a fat kid jumps in, we’re screwed.

Enjoy that tree change!

I did a ridiculously strict diet for 8 weeks in an attempt to figure out which foods were triggers for me…The problem was that my symptons didnt ease at all so I coulndt identify any the whole time

My thinking is that my main triggers are related to sleep (still havent worked this one out) exercise (too much is bad) lights/computers (seem to be my worst) and I believe it may all stem from my neck or jaw somehow…Its pretty much a minefield

When I was at my worst, I could not identify any food triggers. Now that I’m n meds that have eased SOME of the dizziness, I have been able to identify more of them. I’m still learning about them as I go, but in the last year I have learned a lot! I have definitely identified foods that will give me a horrendous headache the day after consuming. If my head hurts long enough, my dizziness gets worse. Most of the things that cause my dizziness to get worse though are environmental triggers. Chemicals, odors, cleaners etc. I would definitely try the diet out though. I was skeptical at first too. I thought there is no way in he** what I eat is going to impact me. Boy was I wrong. It took some time to learn what I could have and couldn’t have off of the no-no list, but it was worth it for me.
Good luck!