Nutrition powers our bodies and minds. Evidence shows that the types of foods we eat, and how often we eat, also have a direct connection to migraine. But the subject of nutrition for migraine can feel overwhelming. When it comes to making helpful changes and creating migraine-safe meals, it can be hard to know where to even begin.
We’ve done the hard work for you. The Ctrl M Health app lays out four different nutrition strategies for migraine, all of which build on one another. Each step will reveal a new layer of understanding of what works for you. Over time, these small insights will amount to meaningful changes for your migraine.
You can start on whichever strategy feels right for you. When choosing one, bear in mind:
- The right nutrition strategy for you right now is the one you feel readiest for. If you’re new to nutrition for migraine, we suggest going through the strategies in the order below, spending at least a week in each.
- When in doubt, start with something that feels less daunting. Fear of failure can sometimes keep us from trying something new. Choose something that feels doable. It feels this way because there are good reasons that you are ready for it.
No matter where you are in your life with migraine — or how much you know about nutrition — these four stages give you options for sustainable changes to help you manage migraine.
#1: Get clarity
Self-discovery is the foundation of nutrition for migraine. It will help you figure out the areas that will be most impactful for your health with migraine right now. It revolves around looking at your current eating patterns and seeing the ways they affect your symptoms.
This stage is often full of surprises. You’re likely to discover details you’ve never noticed before, or may not have connected to your symptoms before.
Start with the “Food Journal & Self-Discovery” activity:
- For a few days, write down the things you eat and drink, along with how you felt that day.
- Doing so will allow you to learn what foods support you feeling your best and what foods detract from your health or contribute to migraine.
- These are different for everyone, so it’s worth spending some time here learning your patterns.
Give yourself the time and space you need to make progress with this activity. Some tips:
- Take stock. Self-discovery begins with keeping track of your eating style and choices. This record-keeping will help you draw connections between the foods you eat and how they make you feel.
- Reflect. In any self-assessment, negative self-judgement can creep in and push us off course. Instead of beating yourself up, take time to neutrally reflect on what you’ve learned thus far, including your nutritional strengths and areas of future growth. If you’re discovering that emotions are negatively impacting your eating habits, note that, as well.
- Breathe. Self-awareness practices like a simple breathing exercise can help you cultivate mindfulness that you will apply to your eating habits.
#2: Get healthier
Once your self-discovery foundation is in place, it’s time for the next nutritional strategy: building quality into your diet by adding foods that help reduce your body’s level of inflammation. Doing so allows you to actually alter physical patterns in your body that can contribute to migraine.
Start with “The Anti-Inflammatory Diet” activity:
- Learn about the extensive list of foods that are anti-inflammatory, which help to reduce chronic inflammation.
- Understand which foods promote chronic inflammation, a condition that has negative consequences for the body.
- Compare these foods to your usual food choices and consider what foods you might start to incorporate into your diet.
This step revolves around trying some new foods and ways of eating, then seeing the effects they may have on your life and symptoms. Think of it as another fact-finding mission — one that will allow you to make smart nutrition choices about the foods that work best for you.
- Reflect. Once you’ve learned which foods reduce inflammation and (non-judgmentally!) taken stock of how your own food choices stack up, think about how you might start to add quality to your diet. If it feels overwhelming, focus on adding anti-inflammatory foods in versus taking foods out.
- Eat. Start trying new foods and see how they make you feel, knowing it takes time to adapt and learn what you like. The point here is to experiment so you can progress toward feeling better.
#3: Get balanced
Now that you’ve started building quality, it’s time to move to the nutritional strategy of building balance. This will give you tools to develop a healthy, positive relationship with food, with a focus on using food for its primary purpose: nourishment.
Building balance in your relationship with food has implications for managing headache and migraine. One important area is blood sugar balance. While your blood sugar level naturally fluctuates throughout the day, swings between extreme lows and highs can negatively affect migraine.
Start with the “Balance Sugar” activity:
- Take stock of how much sugar you consume in a day, and discover how much is too much for your migraine.
- Assess how much sugar is in the foods you typically eat.
- Understand dietary guidelines.
- Learn a simple trick for envisioning how much sugar is in packaged foods.
#4: Get consistent
The final stage in your nutrition plan is building consistency, which helps you unite your new tools, insights and strategies into a consistent, sustainable nutritional routine. Consistency is crucial for migraine health, and nutrition is no exception.
Building consistency is about making small changes to your day that can have a major impact on your migraine frequency and intensity. That includes a couple of specific realms that affect migraine in different ways:
- Meal timing. Eating at regular intervals is important for migraine health. Consider whether you eat at regular times from day to day, and how often you eat.
- Caffeine. The quantity, frequency, and inconsistencies in the amount of caffeine you consume all play a part in migraine. Understanding how caffeine affects you will allow you to regulate your intake in order to reduce your migraine attacks.
Start with the “Caffeine Modulation” activity:
- Understand the links between caffeine and migraine.
- Learn the amount of caffeine in common foods and beverages.
- Discover how caffeine affects you — the answers are not always obvious.
- Learn tips for finding greater ease with caffeine.
Choose your next step to improve your migraine
You have the power to prevent migraine attacks by improving your nutrition. The personalized plan within your Ctrl M Health app is ready to help. You’ve got this!
Good luck! There is progress ahead.
The Ctrl M Health Guide to Migraine Nutrition
Research shows that the types of foods we eat, and when we eat, have an impact on our migraine. Our new eBook helps you understand the link between migraine and nutrition.