As you’ve heard me say before, I went gluten-free a few years ago to help holistically manage my chronic arthritis pain. It was a big decision, and a big adjustment at the time. We re-vamped a lot of the things we do in the kitchen, and also changed the way we eat out.
But that was a tiny change compared to the migraine trigger elimination diet I’ve followed since March 1st—almost 70 days. An elimination diet is recommended many times by health coaches, nutritionists and even physicians. There are lots of different types of elimination diets, and just as many reasons why someone might embark on one.
In my case, a physician recommended the changes because I was having severe, chronic atypical migraine activity. Severe meaning it was massively impacting my quality of life and ability to work, play and simply function. Chronic meaning the migraine activity had lasted at this extreme level for several months prior the physician appointment. Atypical meaning there was very little headache activity involved but many other symptoms that health care practitioners and patients often don’t associate with migraine. More on my story is here.
The elimination diet that was recommended to me means that I have had to eliminate around 50 foods from my diet. It means that no foods (and even some personal care products) can be purchased without reading their ingredient list. It also means that eating out is practically impossible.
On the UP side, the elimination diet almost completely reversed my migraine activity within about 30 days. Some symptoms were eliminated in the first week!
But how do you take the dietary recommendations from paper to practice?
STEP ONE: Get a bound blank book to use as food log or diary. Since I am specifically trying to connect foods with migraine symptoms, I wanted to have something I could flip around in to see those connections. The same thing would apply if you want to connect pain-related symptoms to food.
STEP TWO: Make copies of the list of do’s and don’ts. One is attached to my refrigerator. The other is inside my food log/diary book. I’m working on making one virtual or “in the cloud” to access from my smart phone (helpful while shopping).
STEP THREE: On the list of do’s and don’ts, highlight those foods you use most in your food and cooking choices. For us, it was things like avocados, nuts, onions, and soy sauce!
STEP FOUR: Start reading labels in the kitchen to see what was “safe.” For example, the list said tuna was okay. But the list of ingredients on our tuna cans had vegetable broth in them, which is often “code” for MSG. So now when we shop, we look for brands of tuna without added broth in them.
STEP FIVE: Begin researching possible substitutions for your favorite foods on the “don’t” list. For example, switching shallots for onions. While it’s not the same exact taste, it works. And we’re also serving sauces on the side to accommodate my needs and all the other diners. With some regular experimenting and brainstorming, Cris and I have been able to enjoy a lot of fantastic “whole food” dinners together—all gluten-free and migraine-friendly.
The time I’ve spent in this elimination diet “phase” is a time when I have to give a LOT of thought to every bite. In our world of convenience foods and overscheduled lives, this isn’t easy. But trust me, living with pain or illness is harder than making extremely conscious food choices. For me it’s all about my mindset. I can either focus on the 50 foods I can’t have, or recognize the 1000 other options I do have. I also try to stay focused on the results that these changes have made in my health and my life. And like many challenges, elimination diets aren’t designed to last forever. So I often say to myself: “this too shall pass.”
Hopefully in just a few weeks, I’ll be able to start testing each trigger food and creating my own personal “trigger list.” Once I have that list (which may take a few months to solidify), I hope to be adding some of these eliminated foods back into my diet.
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!