3 minute read

Over the last many weeks, I have reintroduced nearly every food group back into my diet sans any animal derived foods. To tell the truth, I noticed no significant difference in my body, mood, or energy. This elimination diet was not intended for me. Something over the past few years has taken my headache count from over 40 per year to the single digits in 2022. I have tried to put my finger on the trigger without success. I have tried years without alcohol, years without sugar or alcohol, and years on a vegan diet. There have been times when I exercised frequently or infrequently. Each year starting in 2018, my recorded number of headaches, defined as requiring Ibprofen or Excedrin, decreased between 9-11 events per year until hitting the single digits last year. And there is not one thing I can point to over those 5 years as a source of the steady decline. I am not complaining, but the inner engineer and human in me wants to know WHY.

Everything has a reason. We might not like many of the reasons such as we were born that way or that is how society functions. But it is unlikely that I was born with headaches as I don’t remember having them as a young kid and they seem to be diminishing as a middle-aged adult. I want to believe things like diet and exercise can help reduce the rate of occurrence and intensity. I know that depending on the headache type and timing that a nice long jog or the right sized meal could either help or hinder the onset of the headache. I loved those times I felt some head pressure and lacing up the shoes and a 30-minute jog had me feeling like new again. But I also remember the times where I thought a snack might help the ramping head pressure only to find it exacerbated. Other times a nice lunch made the headache go away. There was a cause-an-effect in there somewhere, but I could never pinpoint the pattern.

For Meg, the elimination diet is helping to reduce the rate of migraine occurrences and intensity. There is where the multi-factor analysis would be helpful. Maybe it isn’t the alcohol, or the sugar, or the dairy. Maybe there is a threshold of various types of inputs: mental, physical, and dietary. That is why eliminating one thing like gluten or dairy doesn’t show a drastic effect. I didn’t expound on the mental aspect. I can suggest without metrics to back it up that my stress levels have likely decreased over the last few years. We will never know if lower stress with a poor diet and exercise would have provided me the same benefits (not until we figure out how to tap into the multiverse).

I am always amused when reading non-fiction from before the 20th century where the wife or woman is stricken with debilitating headaches or migraines. Maybe amused isn’t the proper term. To think that over 100 years ago, before women were trying to balance both work and home, before driving and flying, before the fast-paced, mentally draining aspects of today’s society, people, mostly women, were still suffering from migraines to a point where it was written about often.

The bad news is that migraines are likely never going away. The good news is that there seems to be ways to mitigate them with enough effort and time. The question is, are you willing to mentally accept voluntary drastic change? To some people, life is not worth living without icecream, cheese, and cookies. To others, those are momentary, fake pleasures that overcrowd our search for true pleasures.

image of Meg with no migraine. Migraine-Free Meg