Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Heal your Headache - Migraine Diet Update

I wanted to share an update to my post entitled "Migraine Associated Vertigo" to give you an update on my experience with the migraine diet from the book, Heal your Headache by Dr. Buchholz.  (He seems to believe that even dizziness/vertigo and the host of other symptoms I experience are migraine related and that by following the diet laid out in his book, they symptoms should decrease or cease all together.  I wish!)

I followed this diet for 6 weeks (I remember reading in the book somewhere, but now I can't find it, to give it 6-8 weeks and then up to 4 months symptom free before introducing "trigger" foods back into the diet). Some may argue I should have tried it longer, but I will tell you why I did not. I was doing pretty well before starting the diet. My symptoms were troublesome and chronic (as in, 24/7), but the vestibular therapy gave me a lot of relief. After starting the diet, I actually got worse. As someone who got actual headaches only once and a while (a few a month, if that), I started getting them at least 3x per week. They were massive headaches too. Also, out of nowhere, I experienced the worst dizziness I had ever experienced since this whole illness began in January (up until starting the diet, my dizziness had been predictable, but this was a major turn for the worse.  I blogged about that experience here). This happened 3 times and actually set me back in vestibular therapy. I had to go back to my most basic exercises, whereas before the diet I had gotten pretty advanced. My life was pretty manageable, feeling about 80-90% better most days before the diet, but after the diet and this major episode of horrendous vertigo, I was back to being practically bed ridden. I couldn't drive for weeks, whereas before I could drive just fine (as previously noted, my dizziness almost always fells better while I in motion and never bothered me while driving up to this point). I actually thought that perhaps the diet WAS working and this was my brain's way of healing and adjusting, so I decided to continue on. However, my health overall just felt like it was starting to decline.

Since there seems to be some sort of trigger food in everything, I started relying too heavily on carbs & sugar. I know this is my own fault, but with a diet so limited, day old bread was pretty easy to reach for when I didn't know what else to eat. I couldn't even follow the sample diet in the book. Dr. Buchholz suggests roast beef sandwiches (what kind of roast beef, surely not processed deli meat??), tuna salad (what about the mayo that has vinegar and lemon juice in it?), grilled cheese sandwiches (I can't find preservative free cheese around here). As for his sample breakfasts, though it sounds good, it's just not healthy to live on waffles with maple syrup, blueberry muffins and bagels with cream cheese every day (not that I could find a preservative free cream cheese anyway). Dinner was the easiest because of Heidi Gunderson's Migraine-Free Cooking cookbook, but I found breakfast and lunch to be limited. I can't remember the last time I ate a decent salad. Although Dr. Buchholz says white wine vinegar is "allowable" in small amounts, I can't use it because of the sulfites. The problem is that now I can't use avocados, lemon juice or yogurt either to make my own salad dressing with those. Eating out was not even an option. Don't get me wrong, if this diet helped me, I would gladly never eat out another day in my life, but it did not.

I think the stress of following the diet and worrying about what food might have a trigger in it caused me to feel much worse too. I'm not saying others with a vestibular disorder shouldn't try, I'm just sharing you my experience. I would personally try anything (that's natural like a diet) and now I can say I did. Do I think it would have "worked" if I tried the diet longer? No, not at all. I have actually been feeling much better now that I stopped following it.  I don't mean that my dizziness is much better, but I feel better overall with more strength, energy and peace of mind and that, in itself, makes the symptoms more bearable and less debilitating. 
I do know that before this diet, I had my eyes on the Lord more often, looking to Him to get me through each day in trust that He would.  After starting the diet, I began looking to myself and this diet for help.  It became an obsession of sorts, especially when trying to avoid all "trigger foods". I am genuinely happy for those this diet worked for and if it has helped you and your vestibular disorder, praise God!!  I wish it had worked for me too, but the Lord has other plans for me.

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