The Migraine Associated Vertigo Community
Read our welcome post, user support wiki & visit our member recommended products page

To diet or not to diet- that is the question!

So I have been following the ‘Heal your Headache’ diet quite strictly for the past 6 weeks. And before that I didn’t drink or eat any caffeine, chocolate or alcohol for months. And I don’t notice a real difference yet.
What does that mean? Is food a minor issue for me, or may be for most migraineurs ? After how much time should I feel really better with the diet ? What is your experience with food and how can you know for sure that something is a trigger ??

(I have no problem sticking to the diet when it comes to caffeine/alcohol/msg/aged cheeses and a lot of the other foods that might be triggers. But in the future I hope to be able to eat nuts again, and use a little lemon in my food for example. And since I hardly eat any meat or sugar or processed food, I would like to have a little more variation than I have now ).

This diet is so difficult to follow. I have done it for months, up to a year, at a time. I didn’t notice any improvement that couldn’t just as easily be attributed to the “natural” wax and wane typical of VM symptoms. During non-diet times and better times, I have eaten cheese, chocolate, nuts, citrus, all of my favorite foods with no change in condition. I don’t ingest alcohol or caffeine, however. That said, I’m back on it now after being flat on my back from a horrible flare, and although I don’t feel any benefit after 1 month, I’m terrified to eat any purported trigger foods. I would love to hear others’ experience with this. I think it would be easier for those with episodic symptoms to tell whether the diet helps.

Thanks Serendipity for the response. Though your experiences are not very encouraging for sticking to the diet. What you describe is what I mean: how can you know if some specific food is a trigger when there is no direct reaction ? I mean I have headaches going on and off, it varies every day and during the day as well.

I hope that those who benefitted from the diet will respond as well, and tell us how they knew that something definitely was a trigger for them !

I don’t know where I’d be without the diet. It was a turning point for me. I can only talk about my own experience but, although my memory’s a bit vague now as to the exact timeline, I think I noticed an improvement within a few weeks, although not fully for probably three months or so. But I definitely knew I was onto something and that was motivation enough to keep going. Things I couldn’t eat at first, I can now - like tomatoes and peppers. The only way to know for sure that something is definitely a trigger is to test that food numerous times. It’s hard though because so many variables can be at play. I think I may be OK with nuts and the odd slice of lemon too, also bananas, although I’ve gone right back to basics again at the moment due to a few bad weeks of increased symptoms.


I’m like Brenda.

Some of my response is superstitious, in that I have made decisions based on meager evidence. I love eggplant, but while I seem to have done okay with just a bit b=of baba ghanouj at a picnic, when I tried cooking an eggplant myself, I had a bad day. I repeated this experience (the same eggplant, but cooking it slightly differently) and rather than try further I’ve ruled out eggplant.

The foods that proved quite safe I probably would eat even when having a bad spell. For me that’s nuts and citrus. OTOH, there are other foods that I know will hit me unless taken in great moderation, and I’d hold off if I were having a bad day, say when the weather changes. I can have a coupla chips or up to one small chocolate chip cookie and get away with it; or even 2-3 cups of decaf coffee. Or a teaspoon or swallow of booze. But I’d hold off on these if I were already fuzzing out.

I’m not sure about yoghurt or buttermilk or kefir; I’ve done okay with them, but in some circumstances maybe I’d back off.

One of these days, though, I will try banana or plantain. They’re on my list.

This is one of the reasons I keep questioning my diagnosis of MAV (which I don’t recommend, it’s draining). I basically reduced my diet to hardly eating anything. I eat the same breakfast, lunch, dinner everyday. I’ve never experienced any relief due to diet. I also don’t seem to get any worse due to eating bad. My symptoms just remain. I get the odd couple of days when they are good and then the cycle starts again. There doesn’t seem to be anything triggering it. It just seems to be a constant cycle of 3 or so weeks of torture, couple of days where I go wow, what’s going on, I feel ok and then back to it again.

You end up being afraid of food, because you are always thinking there is a golden diet, just waiting to cure me, but if there is, I have no idea how to find it.

1 Like

How long have you been doing the diet, dizzyk? Which one are you doing? The diet is really a tool, not a cure - although I wish it was! :smiley:


Hey Brenda,

On and off for 2 years. I am now scared of food :slight_smile: It’s really confusing to be honest because I have so many other symptoms that I am not sure if they fit under migraine. See below. I definitely haven’t kept it up for 2 years, but I have gone through months only eating:

  • Gluten Free porridge
  • Meat and Veg
  • Sweet Pots + Meat + Veg

That’s about it. Maybe the odd gluten free oat cake and jam. But even if I am not doing the diet perfectly, I have never felt worse or better from eating. I gave up caffiene 4 years ago and I honestly think if I started drinking it again, it would probably only affect my other symptoms (in particular my stomach).

Problem I have is I have so many other symptoms !! I listed them here - because I was trying to make my doctor understand what I am going through.


For me, I didn’t realize how much a difference the diet was making for me until I cheated about three days in a row. That damn Ben and Jerry’s is almost like crack. Not that I know what crack is like. According to Rick James though it’s “one hell of a drug”. JK

Anyway, after about three days of cheating I started feeling terrible. I think sometimes you can’t tell the difference until you begin to cheat. Kinda like when it’s hard to notice someone is growing when you’re seeing them everyday (or gaining or losing weight). I’m back on my diet again. I’m doing more of a Migraine/Paleo hybrid diet. It’s basically the Paleo diet without the triggers like bacon and red onion’s, etc.

I am dizzy 24/7 which i have had since 2009 :frowning:

The diet for me does make a difference i think because if i eat crap for days on end i do seem to feel worse but it does not seem to make a very significant difference sometimes so is very hard to always be optimistic about doing it!

I think that if the weather is bad and you have your period and then eat some peanuts your would obviously feel worse than if you JUST ate a few nuts on a good day, i guess it’s about balancing each day.

That said i don’t ever touch caffeine or alcohol but sometimes some cheese and flavourings etc sneek through … :roll:

Eating without additives etc has to be better for anyone so i just try to be as good as i can manage :slight_smile:

I understand your frustration with the diet. I have been on the diet for 5months now and am also finding it very difficult. But for me the diet was my turning point. I was put on the diet and I immediately began too improve. I went from a bass line of 70%, with bad episodes that were Worse, to feeling 100% everyday. I currently am still sticking to the diet and feeling 100% and seeing my consultant in October. Stay positive :slight_smile:
James x

I’ve been on the diet for 11 months and can’t say i notice a huge difference, although i do know that i’ve felt horrific after eatin anything with citrus or onion or nuts… so i’m still doing the full ‘heal your headache’ diet to be sure x

I’ve been on the diet for a year now and at first it made a huge difference (Was it that or the meds though? Perhaps if I’d tried it without any meds, I’d know ). I went from being dizzy 24/7 for about three months to about 70%. At this point though, I see no clear connection; been thinking it’s now time to re-introduce the foods I miss. I already started having peanut butter; avocado and papaya are next. I do suspect almonds, caffeine, and chocolate, but I’m just not sure…I guess I could try, but since I could totally live without these, I’m OK.

The only clear without a doubt connections are busy visual patterns, light, motion, and sound; and I think stress.

Dr Silver does not believe in the diet. His view is that caffeine and chocolate should be avoided but nothing else. Its more important to eat regular meals at the same time each day than to eliminate all the other stuff.

hey Ricky, are you a patient of Dr Silver? I am due to see him in October and am doing the diet, so interested in what progress you have made with him

The comment that diet is a tool, not a cure, is correct from my experience also, and I have to use all of the tools I have gathered to maintain control of this condition. I have been able to function with minimal symptoms for over a year now using diet, medication, environmental control, and meditation. The most important thing is recognizing all of your potential triggers and avoiding them as often as possible. For me, triggers include cheeses, chocolate, caffeine, red wine (dietary), most artificial lights and bright sunlight, flashing lights, strobes, computer screens (overexposure), seasonal allergens, noisy environments, and most head tilts. In addition to diet, I take Topamax. It has been overall good for me. The side effects have become more bearable since I like the outcome of not lying flat of my back for weeks on end and not taking 25-30 mg Valium per day and not throwing up my toenails and wanting to die. I work a regular work week, turn off the overhead light in the office (I have a job that allows me to do this) and get away from the computer screen for set intervals each day. Diet is an important part of the complete picture. Even now, if I drink 2 cups of coffee or eat pizza or have red wine, I will feel the effects for several days when I lie down (vertigo) and when I am shopping in stores with fluorescent lighting (vertigo). My advice is to look at the whole picture, have a good physician, and keep working on it. This is likely not going away. Lucky you if it does!

Thanks for all the responses on my question about diet ! It gives me the motivation to stick to the full diet for some more months before I might consider to loosen it a bit. I am now on it for 9 weeks and the only things I have ‘cheated’ on was a hint of lemonjuice that I didn’t know was in a dish,and about one or two spoons of yoghurt in a salad dressing, maybe once a week. And I still eat tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and some tofu every now and then. They are allowed in Buchholz’s diet but some other sources tell you not to take it.
Before this diet I was already eating very healthy; organic vegs, fresh fruit, organic meat only twice a week, hardly any sugar, no alcohol and 1 cup of decaf a day.
I believe healthy eating in general is good for the whole bodily system, without getting stressed about it of course !

I am on medication for 7 weeks now ( building up Sodiumvalproate , now on 600 mg), so this will make it a bit harder to tell whether diet is an important factor or not.
But right now I am not yet improving, only noticing negative side effects ( hairloss, very hungry all day, more tinnitus) and one positive : better sleep !

I read that 1/3 of people have a food trigger

My specialist dr waterston from aus said not to go on the diet, he said if there is anything obvious that triggered me then yeah cut it out or limit it, but not to cut out any other food. So far i have cut out caffeine, chocolate, lollies, anything with artificial additives in it including diet yoghurt, no Chinese takeaway and limit other takeaways, also cut out processed meats. limit cheese, limit peanut butter and dont touch pain killers anymore. I was a migrainier before the mav so i already knew most things i couldnt touch, but over the years i have cut out a few more. I notice a difference but for me i have true triggers like alcohol or cordial or lemonade where in 30
Mins of drinking i will have a migraine and other foods like chocolate, peanut butter, yogurt, cheese that i limit depending on what triggers i will be exposing myself too that day. Hope this helped :slight_smile: for me i believe its completely individual whats going to work or trigger a person.

Have you found it yet by chance! I just read this post and I realize it’s old, but I’ve been searching for the “cure” diet for years now. Feeling at the end of my rope! Always curious if anyone has found some help!