Archive for September 15, 2013

Migraines: Why I Can’t Eat Chocolate

I briefly mentioned this in my last writing retreat post, but I gave up chocolate about a year and a half ago. Let me be clear: this was not my choice. I love chocolate as much as I love reading.

But I get migraines. Really nasty, crazy-side-effects-riddled migraines. They were manageable for awhile, but about five years ago some evil villain flicked a switch in my body and they became unbearable on a daily basis. It took four years to find a doctor who could help (and anyone with chronic pain knows that is both a long time, and a short time). The main culprit was food, but not in the way I’d suspected, and not in the way certain foods are considered “triggers.”

I tried many doctors, prescription medications, alternative therapies, and odd-sounding solutions (chronic pain makes you desperate), such as drinking apple cider vinegar when I felt a migraine coming on. Some things helped to a degree, but nothing truly worked. And none of my doctors really understood the crazy side effects I was having, like feeling as if my head were moving when it wasn’t (talk about crazy making!).

Through perseverance, determination, luck and great friends, I found someone who helped me. After a thorough review, she said I had a yeast imbalance and recommended changing my diet to correct this. My very un-scientific understanding of this is that an overabundance of yeast (candida) in the body overwhelms and interferes with all of your systems (digestion, lungs, blood flow, brain activity, etc.), setting off an imbalance in your body. Since my body’s “go to” response is headaches, that’s what I got.

As soon as I changed my diet and added in cultured (fermented) foods, I started to feel better. It made me believe in miracles. It also meant that I could no longer eat:

  • sugar of any kind, including sweet fruit
  • grains
  • cheese
  • dairy
  • potatoes
  • mushrooms
  • beans
  • alcohol

I also avoid the standard triggers of caffeine, nitrates/nitrates and other preservatives, MSG, and aspartame. Try finding a tasty chocolate-free, sugar-free, grain-free anything out there. It (almost) doesn’t exist (I still haven’t found a way to do chocolate chip cookies, my favorite).

I thought I had no hope to ever feel better, either, and while I’m still working on it (I haven’t lapsed, but I do lean toward carbohydrates and other processed foods, made from quinoa, corn and millet), I also feel like I’m getting my life back.

So, instead of chocolate…well, I nap.