The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- Skipping Meals – Eating every three to four hours is the general rule for most people, not just for migraineurs. Skipping meals is a needless challenge to our body. Grazing was the way our ancestors ate for many millennia, and it’s still a good rule to follow today. Eating a large meal in one sitting is difficult for the body to digest and makes our bodies stress to process all those nutrients (and chemicals). When the body is already stressed, which most of ours are, it is never a wise idea to add to it. Regular, smaller, periodic meals help our aching heads.The human body needs food every three to four hours to help prevent dips in metabolism, moodiness, and cravings.
- Good, healthy meals – Ones without added sugars, processed ingredients, dairy, and grain are tremendously helpful for regulating blood sugar and reducing migraine attacks. An important tip to remember is that a meal doesn’t have to be a sit-down, five-course, best-thing-you-ever-ate meal. A handful of almonds and a bite of an apple is enough to qualify as a meal, and certainly about as much as your stomach can handle if you’re already a little queasy from your migraine medications.
- Exercise – This is a tough one. Who the hell wants to exercise when they feel like crap? Running with a headache would feel like concrete bricks thrown at your head with every pounding step. Weight lifting, when you barely have the strength to lift your own head off the pillow doesn’t make much sense either. The idea is nice. It sounds pretty. Exercise is generally very good for you. It increases your ability to handle stress and pain; however, the process of getting to the gym and physically working out when you are in the middle of a migraine isn’t reasonable. All those lights and noises, especially those of weights clinking together, make my head hurt just thinking about it. This step is more easily implemented after the migraine has passed.
- Caffeine – Reducing caffeine can be the single most effective measure you take. You have to remember that caffeine can be either a helper or a trigger, but most of the time it is a trigger. For some who are caffeine addicts, this can be helpful in getting rid of a migraine very quickly. I will say this, though: if you’re waking up in the morning with a headache and need to drink caffeine to make it go away, then you clearly have a caffeine dependency and need to eliminate it immediately. Yes, you’ll feel awful for a few days and it’s going to be rough, but it’s hurting you more than you think.
Once you see how much better you feel when you’re free from caffeine, you’ll see it’s worth the trouble. Caffeine reduction is very powerful. Excessive caffeine will either cause or reduce a migraine, but it’s the after effects that worry me the most. Caffeine is a stimulant drug. It can cause insomnia, nervousness, stomach issues, heartburn, increased blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. The bottom line is that less caffeine will make you overall healthier. This is a generalization, I know, and you’re probably rolling your eyes at me, but just give it a shot. Try it before you slam it.
- Avoid Bright Lights – Well, now there’s a piece of advice that I wish I had known when I suffered for six long years with my migraines (insert sarcastic facial expression here). Enough said. This is one of the ugly ones and a stupid comment that just makes me angry.
- Get a Good Night Sleep – This is one of my favorites. I wish it were as easy as it sounds. I’ve actually devoted many articles to sleep, because it is THAT important; however, to tell someone, “make sure you get enough rest tonight,” when their head is pounding with every breath they take, isn’t even remotely helpful. Your sleep cycle has a lot to do with your migraines. You’ll hear me say it again and again: if you want to correct your migraine headaches, cluster headaches, sinus headaches and any other type of headaches, you MUST have healthy sleep. If you don’t fall asleep within a half hour and enjoy seven to eight hours of deep, non-medicated, uninterrupted sleep, you will never get better. So, how do you sleep when you can’t seem to sleep? You’ll have to read my blog posts on sleep to find out!