Migraines: Eat to Minimize Your Migraines (cont.)

5. Food additives such as nitrites/nitrates and MSG. Some consider certain food additives, including nitrites/nitrates and MSG (monosodium glutamate), to be common headache triggers. These additives may increase blood flow to the brain, causing headaches in some people.

Another Reason to Avoid a High-Fat Diet

Believe it or not, changes in the level of certain fats circulating in your bloodstream coincide with the triggering of migraine headaches. The bottom line is that you want to lower the levels of blood lipids and free fatty acids in your bloodstream -- and you can do this by eating a lower-fat diet.

A study showed that migraine patients with the diets highest in fat tended to have more frequent headaches than those with lower-fat diets. Cutting fat intake led to significant decreases in headache frequency, intensity and length, as well as the amount of medication these patients took.

What to Drink and Eat During a Migraine

Freitag has four-step plan he recommends to his patients. If you have already vomited or are extremely nauseated, follow these steps:

Step 1. Drink clear soda (regular 7-Up, Sprite, or ginger ale -- this is not the time for diet drinks) that has been allowed to go flat (leave it in an open glass for half an hour). Drink no more than 1/2 ounce at time. Do this every five minutes for the first hour.
Step 2. If you're tolerating that, start drinking 1 ounce of the flat soda every five minutes for the next hour.
Step 3. If this works, you may consume clear liquids as tolerated.
Step 4. After four hours, you may add soft, non-fat foods (maybe something like bananas or applesauce). Eat no more than 4 ounces in 15 minutes. And for the first 24 hours, eat solid foods no more often than every four hours. Consume no dairy products or fats for 24 to 48 hours. If vomiting recurs at any point, rest for one hour, then go back to Step 1.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the author of Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Headaches and Migraines.

SOURCES: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 1998; Suppl vol 98: No 9. Journal of Women's Health, June 1999.

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