7 healthy foods that may
be your migraine trigger

Posted by on Apr 1, 2015 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Holistic Pain Relief | 0 comments

Migraine TriggersWhat if you’ve already “cleaned up” your food choices, and are dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free but still having migraines? I’ve had chronic migraine symptoms nearly every day for the last 15 months. So let me tell you, I’ve done a TON of research about migraine triggers.

Would you believe that foods full of health benefits could be a migraine trigger for you?

Here are seven healthy foods that you might want to test for their migraine trigger potential in your body.

  1. Avocado
  2. Nuts
  3. Garbanzo beans / chickpeas (hummus)
  4. Many fresh and dried fruits: citrus, pineapple, figs, papaya, plums
  5. Lentils
  6. Onions
  7. Treats like dark chocolate and red wine

Migraine triggers fall into two basic categories: stuff you can control, and things out of your control. You can’t control the weather, barometric pressure, your hormonal fluctuations, stress (sometimes!), or other environmental factors. You CAN control things that go in your mouth: foods you eat and drinks you drink.

Food and drink choices basically come down to a few things. Foods with tyramine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sulfites, and nitrites are the biggest culprits.

The reasons why these substances trigger migraine activity are hotly debated scientifically. But there is enough evidence to give eliminating them a try—especially if migraines are difficult for you.

Tyramine is produced when the amino acid tyrosine breaks down. This process can happen naturally in a food—for example, as a tomato ripens. In the list above, tyramine is the biggest trigger.

Tyramine can also be created as a food is aged or cured (as in cheeses), or through fermentation. When eaten, tyramine constricts and then expands (dilates) your blood vessels, which can cause migraine symptoms.

Glutamate is also naturally occurring in some foods, and commonly used as an additive in others. It’s what creates that “umami” flavor and savory taste.

Nitrites are naturally found in citrus foods or juices and in soy products. They’re also used in processed meats like bacon and sausage. You’ll find them in caffeine and alcohol as well.

Sulfite additives are used to prevent foods from turning brown when exposed to air, such as during the drying process. They’re sanitizers, and prevent the growth of molds and bacteria. They can be naturally occurring in the winemaking process.

Hey, I heard you! You just sighed really loud, and I know it’s frustrating. Believe me, I do know how it feels.  We try everything to be healthy, relieve our chronic pain, and then end up with extra migraine activity.

Most likely, you won’t have to eliminate these foods forever. But eliminating them for a short time (2-6 weeks) can give you a clearer idea of which foods trigger you. You may also learn that many of these trigger foods are okay in the absence of other major triggers like hormones or extra stress.

The first step to finding relief is education and awareness. That’s why I’m here for you. Ask me your questions in the comments, and let’s discuss!


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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why I’m choosing antibiotic-free meats

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Kick Pain in the Kitchen, Why Organic? | 0 comments

Antibiotic-Free Hormone-Free Grass-Fed CattleIn my quest for concrete, scientific answers regarding some ongoing symptoms, I recently embarked on a pretty intense food testing protocol.  There are many food testing options available, and this is what the functional medicine practice I’m working with recommended as “top-of-the-line.”

I won’t bore you with the complete test results, although don’t be surprised if I continue to share the things I’ve learned. However, I do think you’d be interested in one particular part of my results and what I’ve learned because of it.

Turns out my body is making a LOT of antibodies to an antibiotic called streptomycin. In simpler terms, I’m allergic to this drug. When I saw this on the list of severe reactions, I also realized that I’ve NEVER taken this antibiotic for medical treatment.

So how is it that I’d be making antibodies for something that’s never been prescribed for me? Thank goodness for Google and the documents available online! Here’s what I found:

Streptomycin is a commonly used antibiotic for large animals including cattle, sheep, and pigs. It’s used all the time in the process of producing the meat and dairy we buy at the grocery store.

Streptomycin is also used to control disease in vegetable and fruit crops, INCLUDING organic apples and pears.  On the upside, the exemption that allowed organic growers to use streptomycin expired in October of 2014. Just be aware that those chemically treated organic apples will probably still be on shelves for most of 2015 as well.

You probably realize by now that I’m not vegetarian, but we’ve been eating with mindfulness (within our budget) for decades. So this was a big blow to my sense of comfort with our choices! And let me tell you, our budget just shifted around so that I can get some relief from this allergic reaction.

I know the changes we’ve made are really the important part of this learning experience for us – and for you! So here’s what we decided to do.

First, I’m going to give organic apples a break. It’s been my go-to fruit for the last few years because it’s inexpensive, easy to find and travels well. I’ll just choose different organic options for the next several months or more.

We are completely switching our beef and poultry buying habits to only antibiotic-free, hormone-free producers. This is NOT easy on our budget, since the costs are about twice what we’ve paid in the past. It really comes down to the “pay me now or pay me later” philosophy. Since the antibiotics are likely playing a part in my health challenges, then continuing to eat food containing them will only make me sicker later. Investing in better quality products now will hopefully lead to better health in the long run for our whole family.

I’m grateful to live in a part of the U.S. (central Pennsylvania) where we can source these products direct from the farm. The web site Local Harvest has been a big help in identifying these folks. Plus, Cris already shops regularly at a local farmer’s market where he’s been able to find a few more sources.

A few Saturdays ago we decided to go straight to a farm store near us. I’m not sure if this would happen everywhere, but after a quick check in to see if we had questions, the family left us on the honor system. We literally picked out our foods, listed them on a steno pad, and left a check in the cash box. And there were two other families right behind us in line. You can’t get much closer to the producers than that!

Taste and texture of these meats is definitely different, especially their leaner and less fatty nature. But it’s not unpleasant at all. And once we decide on the meat we prefer, we’re expecting to buy in quantity to reduce our overall cost per pound.

It’s too soon to tell you whether these changes will make a difference in my health, but I believe they will be positive in the long term. I hope you’ll take the information I’ve shared and consider how it might relate to your own health. I’d love to hear what you find!

Amish Farm Store Sign


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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think you can get away with eating wheat?

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Gluten Free, Holistic Pain Relief, Why Organic? | 1 comment

I’m back from a wonderful vacation and I am PISSED. Not at you, dear readers. I am angry at Monsanto, Roundup, and all the farmers using it. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way and it’s probably not the last.

Wheat 300 pxRoundup is so noxious that it changes our produce INSIDE, not just on the surface. That’s the reason why I encourage you and everyone to eat organic produce. But there’s more to it than our produce choices!

As I talk with clients, friends, and you about how holistic pain relief relates to gluten people ask me WHY? Why has wheat and gluten become a problem in the last 10-15 years? Just like these folks, don’t you also wonder why wheat-based foods didn’t bother you as a kid, but now you’re sensitive to gluten and wheat?

I’ve always answered that it’s because today’s wheat isn’t the same as the wheat from 30-50 years ago. That’s not wrong, but now I see it’s incomplete.

You can read the whole article (with links and sources at the bottom of her page) here:

Let me summarize briefly for you:

During the 1990s, conventional (non-organic) wheat farmers started drenching their crops with Roundup (a common pesticide called glyphosate) just before harvest. This practice increases yield (makes them more money) and makes the harvesting process easier.

Roundup and glyphosate are banned in quite a few countries in Europe. Not just on wheat but on all crops.

In 2013 a study was done connecting glyphosate and the incidence of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. The increase in use of glyphosate is followed exactly by the incidence of these two health conditions. (And remember they are connected strongly to chronic pain!)

If that doesn’t make you mad enough. Here’s the next consequence:

“Roundup significantly disrupts the functioning of beneficial bacteria in the gut and contributes to permeability of the intestinal wall and consequent expression of autoimmune disease symptoms,” says The Healthy Home Economist.

When your gut bacteria is out of balance, you’re more likely to have a variety of medical issues including those related to chronic pain. (Here’s just one study as an example: http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/8/1223.short)

Again quoting The Healthy Home Economist, “The effects of deadly glyphosate on your biology are so insidious that lack of symptoms today means literally nothing. If you don’t have problems with wheat now, you will in the future if you keep eating conventionally produced, toxic wheat!”

Are you pissed now too? Please visit the entire article and read the details, as well as her suggestions on how to avoid glyphosate in your food choices. And definitely share this information with family, friends, and in social media.


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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dairy and holistic pain relief

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief | 0 comments

SpilledMilkWhen I was a kid I hated the taste of milk. There aren’t many things I would use the word “hate” for, but I did (and still do) hate milk. Unfortunately for me, my dad just loved milk. He drank almost two gallons of skim milk every week throughout his life. As a kid, I was required to drink a glass of milk with every meal. But some days I just couldn’t stomach another glass. I’d eat my whole meal, never touching the milk. Maybe I thought it would magically disappear, or that somehow I’d be off the hook. But that magic never happened for me. One night when I was about eight years old, I was caught in this delusion and avoiding my milk. At the end of the meal, Dad said I had to stay at the table until my milk glass was empty. I just stared at that full glass, and it stared back at me. It got warmer and warmer with each passing minute. Then Dad added ice cubes because I used the warmth as an excuse to stop drinking. Of course now it was an even worse situation. Skim milk is thin and skim milk with melting ice is horrible. I finally had to drink this wretched stuff. And as soon as I had a choice about beverages, I stopped drinking glasses of milk!

Since becoming a health coach, I have begun to wonder if the childhood me didn’t have an innate sense of what was really healthy for me. As an adult, I’ve learned that dairy is painfully disruptive to my digestion and inflammatory to my body. No matter your feelings about these foods, I want you to hear about the connection of diary and pain.

What’s Inflammatory about Dairy?

The conventional methods of processing and pasteurization (heating at high temperatures) denatures the protein, fat, and calcium that are considered the beneficial elements of dairy products. Thus, they are also generally inflammatory to our bodies.

Conventionally produced cow’s milk also contain xenoestrogens, synthetic growth hormones, and antibiotics. These are all inflammatory substances in our bodies.

The marketing engine for dairy products won’t tell us that we don’t actually need dairy products to survive. All of those elements I mentioned above—calcium, protein and fat—can be effectively received from alternate dietary sources. For example, dark green leafy vegetables are one of the richest (and most often untapped) sources of calcium available to us.

Another inflammatory issue with dairy items like cheese and ice cream is the way milk is super-concentrated to make them. Imagine not just one “layer” of milk, but many more “layers” or concentrations. So if you find that you have an inflammatory connection to milk, it may actually be even more difficult for your body to manage its highly concentrated forms.

Many of the food items that we think of as dairy are also loaded with sugar—things like yogurt, frozen yogurt and ice cream. That’s another strong inflammatory connection since sugar and pain are closely linked.

Cheeses that are the most inflammatory are those with mold, such as blue cheese, and soft varieties, such as Brie. Also if you are migraine-sensitive like I am, the harder cheeses, such as parmesan and cheddar, can be inflammatory as well due to the aging process. Molds used in blue and other cheeses are essentially a toxin to our bodies. They set off your natural defense system, creating inflammation to “protect” you from that toxin. Remember, a little inflammation for a short period of time IS protective. Inflammation leading to chronic pain is caused by long-term, high-volume ingestion of substances our body doesn’t know and doesn’t understand—so it will constantly “protect” us by creating major inflammation.

Quick Pitfall and Solution

Like many of the inflammatory foods we’ve talked about, dairy can be hidden on our ingredient lists with alternate names. This will be especially useful if you’re not getting the pain relief you hoped for from removing dairy from your diet. Some dairy-related ingredients include: hydrolyzed whey protein, lactose, lactablumin, lactalbumin phosphate, whey, casein, lactoglobulin, lactic acid, simplesse, whey protein isolate, and whey powder.

Steps to reducing your dairy consumption 

There is some possibility that you may find organic, grass-fed, naturally raised dairy to be less inflammatory and more tolerable. You may want to test these products after eliminating all conventionally produced dairy for at least a week or two.

There are also many non-dairy beverages available as options in our supermarkets. Almond, oat, rice, and hemp “milks” are all examples of these non-dairy beverages. I would caution you, however, to read your labels on these milk substitutes. They often contain carrageenan, which is a type of MSG and can also be inflammatory. An alternative here would be to make your own non-dairy beverage, like almond milk.

You can make some easy substitutions for dairy in your cooking. For example, a cup of broth can replace milk in a savory recipe. Pureed sweet potato or coconut milk can make recipes creamier. With a sweet recipe, you can use a non-dairy milk in equal quantities to the suggested cow’s milk. If you’re baking, an additional tablespoon of healthy non-inflammatory oil can maintain the richness and consistency of a recipe.


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!


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the dark side of sugar and pain

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief | 2 comments

Sugar and PainHolistic pain relief and sugar are connected. Sugar is dessert and dessert is sugar, right? Most of us who love dessert, know that sugar is a big part of this desire.

When I was growing up, every meal had dessert after it. I was just telling a client yesterday that there were mornings we even had pumpkin pie for breakfast. Okay, it wasn’t often—but it did happen!

There’s a pretty significant dark side to sugar though, and if you’re going to have dessert you want to be aware of this information. It’s your call what to do with it—depending on where your pain levels are and what other changes you’re making. You definitely want to take this pain-relieving process step by step and not overcommit to changes you’ll find hard to maintain.

But know this—sugar can damage your body. If you’re starting to heal and relieve your pain by changing your gluten or food additive intake, you wouldn’t want to just re-damage it by having excess sugar.

Here are a couple of reasons why sugar connects to pain:

  • Sugar interferes with absorption of magnesium. Magnesium relaxes muscle, and can help relieve pain levels.
  • Sugar can cause arthritis, which is the cause of much pain for people.
  • Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis. Strong bones play a big part in holistic pain relief.
  • Sugar changes the structure of collagen, a significant component in connective tissue. Compromised connective tissue can increase muscle and other types of pain.
  • Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention. Fluid is a function of inflammation, and connects to pain.

Maybe you’re thinking that switching artificial sweeteners for sugar is your solution. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t going to help your pain levels either.

Aspartame, a common artificial sweetener is strongly linked to migraines. But did you know that in 2010 Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology published findings that aspartame is linked to fibromyalgia pain and fatigue?

For me, the question of artificial sweeteners goes back to “great-grandmother” foods. How would I explain aspartame or sucralose to my great-grandmother? Would she just automatically know what it was, like we do?

Here’s another thing I think about with sugar. Sugar causes abnormal cell growth. Most people would rightly link this to concerns about cancer, but again that’s another topic. But many people with arthritis have a condition called nodules. Nodules are little lumps of tissue that grow near joints and can cause pain and discomfort.

If nodules are abnormal cell growth, is it possible that eliminating sugar would start to shrink them? Would it prevent the growth of more nodules? I’m not a scientist or a medical professional, but if I were a person living with nodules and the associated pain I would definitely try this.

As with everything here at Confident Wellness, this is your choice. If you’d like a medical professional’s perspective, get it. If you’re not ready yet, that’s okay. Our pain is individual to each of us, and so is the way we go about pain relief.


Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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