Migraines, Flying and The Mile High City

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Flying with Hubby

News flash: changes in the barometric pressure are rough on migraineurs. 

Be it through a storm front, a flight or even a drive up into the mountains, changes in the atmospheric pressure top the charts for migraine triggers.

Over the summer, hubby and I took a trip that included Olympic hurtles for a migraineur:

  1. We flew
  2. We went to Colorado (you know, the state which is famous for causing altitude sickness/headaches in people who don’t even get migraines).

I managed to get through our vacation without any horrific migraines and I am about to tell you how I did it: I worked with my neurologist for several months and we came up with a plan.

This is the thing, I take a holistic approach to my health. At the same time, I have lived through critical illnesses including leukemia and crohns disease (on top of the painful migraines). I also worked in acute care and rehab as a speech therapist for almost 20 years with profoundly sick patients. Everything I have been through as a patient and a health care professional makes me respect the reality that there are some conditions which require prescription medications.

After 20 years of migraines and having tried almost all the options that are available, I can honestly say that at this point in my journey, I need preventative and treatment medications for my migraines.

Overall I use a holistic migraine plan which includes: maintaining a regular sleep schedule, minimizing caffeine, keeping my blood sugar stable, avoiding dietary and environmental triggers, eating a nutrient dense anti-inflammatory diet, staying hydrated, practicing yoga and getting at least 15-20 minutes of light cardio a day (without overheating).

My neurologist is a headache specialist and agrees that the lifestyle changes are crucial for controlling the migraines.

When my husband and I decided to go on this trip, there were some special events that I wanted to be able to attend. In addition, we had spent most of the previous year pushing hard to get through my relapse of leukemia. I did not want to get to Colorado only to end up in the ER due to a severe migraine.

So I talked honestly with my neurologist and this is the plan he gave me.

I am sharing it with you as a resource but not as a treatment plan. It is important that you talk with your doctor about managing your migraines.

  1. He put me on a steroid taper. It was not prednisone; it was a much lighter steroid that lasted for 6 days.
  2. One hour before we boarded the plane, he had me take an ibuprofen and a triptan.
  3. One hour before we landed, he had me take an ibuprofen and a triptan.
  4. Throughout the flight and my entire time in Colorado I drank **a lot** of water–I hydrated.
  5. I did not drink alcohol or coffee on the plane
  6. I took the steroid each day as prescribed along with a daily triptan and ibuprofen if needed
  7. I did drink some alcohol on the trip, but not much. And when I did drink alcohol I made certain to drink 2 glasses of water for each cocktail.

Overall I did really well. I only got one migraine that was bad enough to interfere with our plans. However, my doctor had given me medication in the event that I got a severe migraine.

So, I never ended up in the ER and I never ended up in the sick bed with all the lights off. It was a successful trip.

One more thing I got to do on our trip: I got to spend a special moment with one of my all time favorite musicians, John Denver, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre 🙂

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Jessica and John Denver

If you suffer from migraines, you should be under the care of a neurologist. Ideally, your neurologist will be a headache specialist. This may mean that you have to travel to a larger city every few months for a check-up appointment. And while that is not convenient, if your migraines are severe, you will probably start to feel better after you get the appropriate treatment.

And talk to your doctor; be honest with that doctor about anything and everything that you want to try in the alternative medicine world. I know that it is intimidating, but there are some medications that do not mix well with alternative treatments so it is very important to be honest.

Migraines are complicated and they don’t get better overnight but working with the right doctor and making lifestyle changes can help. I will be sharing some more of my lifestyle tips in future posts.

Over the years, I have read more books about migraines than I can count. My favorite is Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz. It is the book that I have repeatedly turned to repeatedly for guidance, comfort and answers in trying to solve the migraine puzzle.

Do you have any tips for living with migraines? Specifically for travelling as a person who gets them?


Migraine Friendly Chicken Broth

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Chicken Broth

 

These past few mornings, I have had to wrap a blanket around myself to step out onto our back porch which means that my very favorite season is on it’s way.

 

chicken from stock

Migraine Friendly Chicken (AIP, Paleo)

Fall, with it’s shades of rust, gold and orange, with it’s pumpkins and football parties, with it’s crisp sweater weather is almost here.

And with it, come some of my favorite foods which include soups and dishes that use soup as a base.

Unfortunately, soup and I don’t get along so well when it comes to migraines. And that, my friends, is the pits.

Aside from the fact that I am cold-natured and love nothing more than to curl up with a warm bowl of soup as a way to feel cozy, I also follow the Autoimmune Protocol of the Paleo diet (AIP) which promotes regular consumption of nutrient dense bone broth. Bone broth is a migraine trigger for me because it has high levels of tyramine, histamines and naturally occurring msg.

The reason for those high levels (tyramine, histamines, msg) is that the longer foods cook, the more those proteins accumulate.

Last year, I read this excellent article which explains the phenomenon in more detail.

The article also explains the reasons that until a person’s gut has healed enough to tolerate long time cooking bone broth, he or she will experience potentially rough side effects from consuming it.

If you are a person who struggles with soups and migraines, you will benefit from reading the article linked above.

After reading the article, I started making a shorter cooking time stock and it has helped me so much.

I use this broth as a base for my soups and for the first time that I can remember, I get to eat soup without triggering migraines.

It is nutrient dense and gut healing. I am doing so many things to heal my gut and I believe that eventually, I will be able to tolerate a longer cooking broth but this is where I am now.

 I wanted to share my personal recipe and tell you how I make it.

A couple of tips:

*The chicken which comes from the broth is tender and delicious. I often serve it with the vegetables the first day that I make the broth.

*After I make the broth–I let it cool and then freeze it in 2 cup portions.

Freezing the broth serves a couple of purposes:

  1. It prevents the build-up of (migraine-triggering) tyramine and histamine
  2. Preserves the broth so that I can pull it out of the freezer for future recipes

Ingredients

2 Bone-in Chicken Breasts with skin

4 Bone-in Chicken thighs with skin

6 Stalks of celery chopped

2 Cups of carrots chopped (large pieces)

1 Cup shallots chopped

2 Tbsp Sea Salt (possibly more, to your taste)

1 Tbsp to 1/4 Cup Distilled White Vinegar (Depending on how sensitive you are to ferments and vinegar)

8- 12 Cloves of Garlic (I like to press them but diced is fine too) or 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder

Pepper (this is an AIP re-intro spice so use it to taste if you are able to tolerate it)

Directions

  1. Chop veggies
  2. Place chicken and veggies in a large pot
  3. Fill pot with water (cover the chicken and veggies)
  4. Pour vinegar into pot and let it sit for 30 minutes (it will draw minerals out of chicken bones)
  5. After 30 minutes, put your salt, garlic powder, and pepper (if using) into the pot and turn on high
  6. Bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours

After 1-1/2 to 2 hours, turn off heat and remove chicken from soup. Most of it will have cooked off of the bones, so have a bowl for bones and skin. Strain the broth. Cool and freeze in 2-4 Cup servings.

chickenbroth

Chicken Broth

 

If you want to serve the chicken with vegetables, you may enjoy thickening a bit of the broth as a “gravy”. This is how I do that

Arrange the chicken and vegetables on a platter to have a very cozy, warm meal (the chicken will be nice and tender).

Gravy

Ingredients

2 Tbsp Arrowroot Starch

2 Cups of Broth

Salt to taste

Directions

Pour 2 Cups of broth into a small sauce pan and stir arrowroot starch until it dissolves (over low heat). Taste your gravy and adjust seasoning as desired.

Serve your chicken platter with gravy for supper

When the broth cools, separate it into 1 Cup (or whatever serving size you like) and freeze for later use 🙂

Super easy, yummy and migraine friendly!

Crohns and Colitis Tip: If garlic gives you gas or abdominal pain, omit the garlic powder from this recipe. It is just as tasty with out it.  


AIP Paleo Chicken de Provence

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AIP Paleo Chicken de Provence by Jessica

Let’s just say that the summer of 2015 was the summer in which I fell in love with Herbes de Provence. More precisely, it happened over the weekend of July 4th when I was trying to recreate an AIP version of an old family favorite recipe.

Since then, I have been working on several recipes, including this Chicken de Provence.

Last night we had it over green beans, which are an AIP grey area. In the past I have served it over zucchini zoodles and I prefer as a base to this meal (and they are AIP compliant).

This is a French inspired dish, thus I recommend using ghee or even pasteurized, grassfed butter (only if you are able to tolerate it).

Ingredients

2 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts

1 cup diced shallots

1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice (the juice of 2 large lemons)

1 Cup grapes (slice each in half)

4 T Ghee or Butter + another 2 T Ghee or Butter + another 1 T Ghee or Butter

1/2 tsp Sea Salt + Pinch of Salt

1/4-1/3 Cup Herbes de Provence (this will vary on the size of your chicken)

1/4-1/3  Cup Garlic Powder (this will vary on the size of your chicken)

2 Tbsp Maple Syrup + 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp White Distilled Vinegar

Preparation

You want your chicken to be tender. There are a few steps that will help ensure that:

  1. Go ahead and chop all veggies, grapes
  2. Measure spices
  3. Measure ghee, butter (olive oil, or fat of your choice)
  4. Go ahead and prepare your zoodles or green beans
  5. Set your pans out: I needed 2 skillets for my chicken and a small sauce pan for grapes
  6. Prepare chicken which is a similar process to butterflying: Cut each chicken breast in half, then lay the thinner breasts on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet for ~ a minute. Then flip the chicken breasts over, cover with plastic wrap and pound with meat mallet for another minute.

*The reason for cutting the chicken and pounding it is because you want it to be thin. Your other option is to buy chicken breast cutlets which are already sliced thinly.

Directions

  1. Heat 4 Tbsp Ghee or Butter (or fat of choice) in skillet on medium-high until melted. Keep and eye on this as you don’t want want it to burn, when it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium. This is for your chicken. I had to use 2 skillets. If you also use 2, I suggest that you keep it simple and keep the measurements the same (you will use the reserve liquid as a sauce).
  2. If using a 2nd skillet heat another 3-4 Tbsp of Ghee or Butter (or fat of choice) on medium-high until melted. Keep an eye on this as you don’t want want it to burn, when it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium.
  3. Put chicken breasts into skillets. You will hear them sizzle, let them sit for 5 minutes undisturbed. Turn the heat down to medium or medium-low. Sprinkle 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tsp of Herbes de Provence, and 1 tsp Garlic Powder equally on each breast.
  4. Flip chicken after 5 minutes–when you flip, be sure to scrape from the bottom of the skillet to get the yummy browned chicken.
  5. Once again you will hear chicken sizzle. Let it sit for 5 minutes undisturbed. Sprinkle 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tsp of Herbes de Provence, and 1 tsp Garlic Powder equally on each breast.
  6. Remove the chicken from the skillet(s) and place on a warm plate, cover with a lid or foil to keep warm.
  7. Pour lemon juice into the skillet(s) and scrape the browned butter/chicken from the bottom of skillet(s).
  8. Pour the liquid reserve from one skillet into the other so you are now working with only 1 skillet.
  9. You already have the lemon juice in the skillet, add the shallots and 2 Tbsp Ghee or Butter (or fat of choice).
  10. Add 2 Tbsp of Maple syrup and stir occasionally
  11. Cook on low until shallots are tender (about 5 minutes)
  12. Place the chicken breasts back into the sauce and remove from heat (cover to maintain warmth)

Make the Grape sauce

  1. Melt 1 Tbsp in small saucepan
  2. Place grapes in melted butter
  3. Add 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  4. Add 1 Tbsp Vinegar
  5. Add Pinch of Sea Salt
  6. Cook on Medium-low (simmer) for ~ 10 minutes

Serve over a mild tasting veggie: Chicken with sauce from the skillet and then drizzle with grape sauce.

Enjoy ❤

*Grass-fed Butter and Ghee are technically not AIP compliant. However they are fats that I tolerate without difficulty. You can sub your fat of choice.

*Migraineurs: Citrus fruits can be a migraine trigger. For me personally, lemons are safe. But be aware that lemons may be problematic for you. If they are, you may do well with a less lemon juice or none at all.


Super Simple Tender Chick Stir-Fry

super simple tender chick stirfry

super simple tender chick stirfry

 

First things first, I love Asian food. Love it. However I get migraines from the yummy sauces. Sadly, even coconut aminos, fish sauce and Bragg’s trigger migraines in me.

So, I am always trying to come up with knock-off recipes that will give me that same satisfaction.

This stir-fry does not have a spicy or sweet-sour sauce. It has a tender/buttery chicken breast set off by crunchy veggies.

It is so tasty that my husband actually requested that I make a repeat of it this week (I love it when that happens) 😉

One of the key parts to making this dish delish is the preparation of your chicken. You will butterfly the breasts which is a very easy process of making a chicken breast thin and tender.

To Butterfly

lay your chicken breast on a cutting board

Cut the chicken breast (lengthwise through to ~ 1/2 inch from the other side)

Open the chicken (it will be lying flat like a “butterfly”)

Cover with plastic and use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound chicken to desired thinness

***For this recipe****

Go ahead and cut the chicken breast all the way through, then follow directions above. Then cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces

Ingredients

2.5 pounds Chicken Breast (follow directions above)

3 Cups chopped broccoli florets

2 Cups chopped carrots

1/2 Cup chopped shallots

2 Tbsp sliced green onion

3 Tbsp Garlic Powder

1.5 tsp Sea Salt

2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

4 Tbsp Ghee

Use either cauliflower rice or white rice

Directions

In one pan melt 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil + 1 Tbsp Ghee over medium

Add Broccoli, Carrots, Shallots, Green Onion, 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder, 1 tsp Sea Salt

Stir-fry on low to medium-low for ~ 15 minutes (you want veggies to be tender but still crunchy)

In a Separate Pan or Skillet (I had so much chicken that I had to use 2 extra skillets)

Melt 3 Tbsp Ghee in large skillet on medium high

Add chicken, lower temperature to medium-low and let it cook on one side for 5 minutes (do not stir or move it)

Sprinkle 1/4 tsp Sea Salt and 1 tsp garlic powder on top of chicken as it cooks

Flip chicken and let it cook for another 5 minutes

Sprinkle 1/4 tsp Sea Salt and 1 tsp garlic powder on top of chicken as it cooks

Then take the Chicken and mix it into the veggies. Pour the liquid reserve from chicken into the veggies (including any scraping from pan).

Mix cauliflower rice or white rice into the stir fry until warm (a couple of minutes).

Enjoy ❤

This is AIP with re-intro white rice, Paleo with re-intro white rice, Migraine Friendly


Migraine Friendly Cherry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

cherry Vinaigrette 2

Cherry Vinaigrette

 

With cherries in season, I decided to create a yummy Paleo, Migaine-Friendly salad dressing featuring them.

Something that I love about cherries is that they have been proven to help prevent pain. Here is a link to one of many articles on the benefits of cherries.

That being said, cherries actually do trigger migraines in a small group of people. If you find that they are a problem for you, you might do well with the white gold cherry.

An important note about this dressing and migraines: it is a vinaigrette and something that all migraineurs must understand about vinegar is that it is aged/fermented which means it has tyramine.

Tyramine develops from the aging process and it is one of the most common migraine triggers.

The safest vinegar for migraineurs is white, distilled.

A quick note about making vinaigrette dressings: as you know, oil and vinegar don’t mix which is why you can shake them together and then set the dressing down only to see the ingredient separate. The key to making the dressing is to get them to emulsify (mix together) temporarily.

The best way to emulsify a vinaigrette is with a blender. However, I use our blender so often that when it comes to this dressing, I opt for a mason jar with a tight fitting lid and I just shake it before serving.

You want the oil and vinegar to be at room temperature.

This recipe makes ~ 3/4 Cup – 1 Cup of Vinaigrette

It will be good for 2 days kept in the refrigerator

*For those with migraines, remember that it is important to not eat leftover past 24-48 hours as the level of tyramine builds up with time (which increases it’s level as a migraine trigger).

cherry Vinaigrette 7

Cherry Vinaigrette

Ingredients

14 Dark Cherries (pitted, or frozen cherries)

1/2 Cup water

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Vinegar

Pinch of Sea Salt

Pepper (AIP Paleo re-intro spice)

Directions

1. Boil the pitted cherries in 1/2 cup of water on medium-low for 5 minutes

2. Set the cherries and reserve aside for 15 minutes to cool

3. Mix Olive Oil, Vinegar, Salt and Pepper in a Mason Jar (with a tight-fitting lid) and shake

4. Once the cherries and juice have cooled, pour them into the the Mason Jar, replace the lid and shake

5. Let the mixture sit at room temperature until serving. When you serve it, shake again then pour over salads. Then use a spoon or fork to retrieve cherries from the dressing.

Enjoy!

This dressing is particularly delish when paired with almonds roasted in grass-fed butter and sea-salt.

*Almonds, like all nuts, are a migraine trigger. I have recently been able to add them back to my diet in small amounts.

cherry Vinaigrette 1

**Note: If you decide to use the Mason Jar/Shake method–Make sure that the lid has a tight fit. I learned this lesson the hard way when I used a loose lid and ended up with oil and vinegar everywhere.**  😉


My Migraine-Friendly Paleo Approach to Healing Diets

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This has been a challenging post to write because diet is a huge part of the way that I manage both chronic migraines and Crohn’s Disease. However, each condition requires unique dietary changes and they don’t necessarily fit one specific, easy to follow diet.

I have been living on healing diets since 2001 which means that I have spent the past 14 years learning how to stick with a gut-healing diet while using migraine-friendly foods.

In honesty, I can’t make this a short post. I feel like the only way to describe my diet is to tell you how I got here. I have tried to pick the highlights and I have included resources and lists that will be helpful to you.

I had never heard of a healing diet until I got sick.

Have you tried to follow one yet? They can feel overwhelming , annoying, isolating. It is easy to feel like you are missing out on what other people get to eat.

In defense of healing diets: They give you some control over your life and illness. They provide a way for you to do something, anything, to feel better and if you are sick enough to be looking into healing diets then we all know how desperately you want to feel better.

This is where the quote by Author Unknown rings true with my soul:

“In order to change, we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired”

I have been doing this for 14 years and I have found something that works for me. Of course I have kicked sand, I have cried, and even given up.

However, in the end, no matter how badly I wish I could I could change it, despite my prayers for healing, the reality of my life is that I live with Chron’s Disease and migraines.

I have 2 choices:

  1. I can eat what I “want” and end up in a lot pain only to find myself in the ER and hospital more often than not.
  2. I can decide to look at healing diets as a positive way to help manage the symptoms of disease.

I go with option 2.

I use a 90%-10% rule when it comes to following the diet. This is something that I have come to after years of giving it my best. I have had years when I did not stray from the diet one bit and I have had times when I have given up completely.

For me, allowing myself 10% of time to not worry about food preparation, to go out to dinner or eat at friends’ houses keeps me sane. It lowers my stress levels, and keeping stress in check is just as important as proper diet. It all works together.

I have also found that by following a healing diet 90% of the time, I can occasionally veer off of it, and be alright. I don’t end up in the ER, I don’t flare.

That is my personal approach, everyone has to find what works for them.

I do encourage you to find some way to use diet and lifestyle to manage illness because you can feel much better than you feel when you rely on medication alone.

When I started getting migraines in my 20’s the doctors mentioned foods that I should try to avoid. Back then, the migraines were not severe enough for me to make changes. I remember that I started popping Excedrin migraine tablets like candy.  I worked in a large medical center and my days were high paced, exciting and stressful in a way that I loved. To keep up, I just took Excedrin, and when the headaches started to come back, I would drink more coffee, or take more Excedrin (my poor intestines).

My pivotal change happened on July 3, 2001.

That was the night that hemorrhaging intestines and a fever of 104.7 flipped my life upside down forever. After my father and I spent the night pushing me through grueling tests in the ER, we found ourselves in a place called the TCU (transitional care unit) which is where patients have temporary rooms until hospital rooms open for admission. My mother was on her way to the hospital.

It was the morning of July 4th. There is a famous 10K race in Atlanta called The Peachtree Roadrace which runs right past the hospital where I was hooked up to IV’s. I had run in that fun race just a few years before the nightmare that I suddenly found myself living.

I felt so disoriented from my life. A large part of me kept expecting to “feel better soon” because until then, that is how I understood illness. I did not know that you could hurt horrifically and continue in that state, and then learn to live in it.

My GI doctor came in and told us that I either had Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis and I honestly thought “oh, I can’t eat corn” because at some point in my life I had known a person who could not eat corn due to colitis. At that moment, I did not connect the fact that the doctor was giving me a diagnosis, a name for my new reality.

He was giving me a name for the reason that I was in so much pain.

During the following weeks of my hospitalizations, I lay in that hospital and was fed through IV’s and eventually a line that went directly into my heart.

While I was in the hospital, one of my best friends from college wrote to me and told me about a diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and a book called Breaking The Viscous Cycle. My parents went to the bookstore and purchased it for me, I laid in the hospital and read it cover to cover; I underlined it. I memorized it.

I was horribly allergic to the medications that the doctors used to try and get the crohn’s under control. I spent the majority of that summer and early fall in the hospital. I was so sick.

Early one morning, my doctor came into my room and used a matter of fact tone as he told my father and me that my remaining choices were: surgery to remove part of my colon, which he did not really prefer because he suspected that the crohn’s would just go somewhere else, chemotherapy or to stay on prednisone. He said that the choice as up to me.

The room was silent.

I felt like someone had ripped my heart out and tears streamed down my cheeks. My shoulders began to shake as I cried into my hands.

At 29, when I heard those choices, I was suddenly so far removed from the successful and attractive young woman I had once been. I did not understand this damaged version of me–it just made no sense; I had done so many things “right” in life. I was a good person, I was a Christian, I was very compassionate and loving, I worked hard.

All I heard was chemotherapy. And I did not have cancer. And less than 2 years ago I had been in love with life and had so many friends and what the heck happened?

At that point, my father asked my doctor to step into the hallway.

I could hear my father’s voice defending his first born daughter, and I could hear that his heart was being ripped apart as badly as mine was when he said, “you tell me how you would feel if you were 29, if your life was collapsing and you heard that your last remaining choices were to lose part of your colon or go on chemotherapy?”

Needless to say, the doctor came back in my room with a softer demeanor. He spoke more gently as he explained that the chemo is very light and that his recommendation would be to go on that. He told me that it would take a few months to kick in, so I would stay on the prednisone while we waited to see if the chemo worked for me.

I actually adore this doctor. He and I have weathered  the storms of life together. I feel like he is a family member. But, the beginning was gosh-darn hard for us.

So we went with the chemo option and I was on prednisone for a year (which deserves a post unto itself).

Back then, blogs were not really a “thing” but list-serves were. List-serves were email groups that you could join that allowed you to discuss certain topics online. As soon as I was discharged from the hospital, I joined the list-serve focused on the SCD. I learned as much as possible about that diet. I was determined to live as “normal” of a life as possible.

As soon as I could eat, I started the SCD and my family  joined me on the dietary adventure.

It was baby steps, I lived off of plain hamburger patties, homemade yogurt and pureed carrots for months.

As my GI tract healed, I was able to add foods to my diet.

By October, my dog and I were taking slow walks through my parent’s neighborhood enjoying the brisk chill in the air, the autumn colored leaves.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and that particular year it was extra special.  My body was finally starting to cooperate. Joy had found it’s way back into our lives.

We stood around the table which was graced with the traditional Thanksgiving spread along with so many of my SCD additions. We went around and gave thanks aloud then said the blessing. I remember looking up at my dad and he looked at me. He had tears in his eyes as he hugged me and said that he was so happy I could eat again.

You really can’t imagine. Then again, if you are reading this blog, you may have similar moments and memories of your own.

That year, the migraines were gone, It was spectacular. Having worked in healthcare, I knew enough about steroids to suspect that it was because I was on prednisone. And sadly, as we tapered the prednisone, the migraines came back with a vengeance. They were fierce.

In 2002, the book Heal Your Headache was released. It is another book that I devoured. Over the years, I have read copious amounts of books on migraines and this is my favorite. In his book, Dr. David Buchholz provides an excellent education on migraines and different types of headaches, he explains the way that triggers work, and introduces natural and medicinal preventative plus treatment options for migraines. He gives lists of food triggers and he also explains ways to decrease migraine triggers. 

The trigger stacking theory is one that is pretty well accepted in the migraine community. Basically, the theory suggests that we have individual migraine thresholds and once we stack enough triggers to reach our individual threshold, we will get a migraine.

There are some triggers which can be controlled such as diet, sleep schedule, caffeine intake, hydration. There are some that cannot be controlled such as weather fronts and hormonal changes.

A migraineur will do best to decrease the triggers which can be controlled.

After reading his book, I took a  long look at my diet and had to admit that the SCD which is filled with gut-friendly foods is also built around fermented foods, nut flours and other foods that are high in tyramine and other migraine triggers for me.

So, I did my own hybrid migraine friendly-SCD diet for years.

When I would have crohn’s flares, I would go back on the intro diet of the SCD and usually the doctors would put me on a medication to stop the flare.

For a while, it was pretty simple.

I got leukemia in 2007 and went into remission in 2008.

This past December, I relapsed and had to change chemotherapy for the leukemia. I had a horrible time with the new chemotherapy. It can cause intestinal hemorrhaging and colitis and it made my body mimic a Crohn’s flare.

I really needed the chemo to work as the other option is a bone marrow transplant.

In a last ditch effort to tolerate the chemo, I decided to try and go back on a strict version of the SCD without the migraine trigger foods (nuts, dairy, ferments).

As I searched the web for recipes, I stumbled across the AIP which is the Autoimmune Protocol of the Paleo Diet. I had heard that people with Crohn’s did well with Paleo and I was desperate. So I gave it a shot. It worked, and it helped me pretty quickly.

The inflammation in my GI tract calmed down and I was able to tolerate the chemo.

The other thing that I love about AIP is that it makes an elimination diet relatively simple. I have done many elimination diets over the years and they can be very difficult to follow/confusing. The AIP is an elimination diet with strict guidelines. For me, it is easier to follow when the guidelines are clear. There is also a great online support group on Instagram, Pinterest and through blogs which makes the diet easier to follow. I followed it strictly for 3 months before adding any foods back in.

I have been on AIP/Paleo for 7 months and have been able to add some foods back into my diet.

There are some foods that I can’t eat because they are migraine triggers for me.

Below I am providing links to charts. This is what you will find: no migraineur is exactly the same….we can tolerate different foods and some of us have the same sensitivities. Migraines are very difficult to treat and part of it is because they are so individual. When you become more familiar with the foods on these charts, you will start to notice what causes problems for you. You can have a reaction up to 72 hours after eating a trigger food.

A very common migraine trigger is tyramine.  Here is a very helpful chart from The National Headache Foundation with foods to avoid when lowering tyramine.

*A note about leftovers: tyramine builds up quickly so if you are not going to eat something within 24 hours of cooking, go ahead and freeze it to prevent tyramine from accumulating. People who suffer from migraines should try to not eat leftovers after 48 hours (so use the freezer) 🙂

Sulfites are also common migraine triggers. Here is a list of foods with sulfites that are common migraine triggers  (coconut is on this list but it does not give me problems).

MSG is also a common migraine trigger. It occurs naturally and is also a flavor enhancer that is added in cooking. MSG is tricky to avoid because it is listed as many different things and it is not always bad. People have different levels of sensitivity to it. Here is a helpful chart.

Here is another helpful link that lists foods which can be migraine triggers.

Foods that are AIP compliant which I have learned that I must avoid due to migraines: Bacon, Gelatin, Organ Meat, Bananas, Plantains, Avocado, Spinach, Mushrooms, Fish Sauce, Coconut Aminos, Fermented foods, Yeast, Onion (I use shallots instead), Balsamic and Apple Cider Vinegar (I used white distilled), Bone broth.

Bone broth, is a trigger because it cooks for such a long time. The longer something cooks the more tyramine and natural MSG builds up on it. I found a recipe that works for me as a stock. You can read more about my migraine friendly, gut healing broth here.

I feel like I just wrote a dissertation and I have certainly given any reader enough to leave you wondering ~how~?

This is my suggestion: follow the AIP for at least a month maybe give it more time. Get involved in the support community available on Instagram, blogs or Pinterest.

If you are a migraine person, you may need to avoid some of the foods mentioned in this post (but maybe not, some people get on the AIP and their migraines completely disappear).

My biggest word of advice: Take it one day at a time, don’t expect yourself to be perfect. 

Try to approach your healing diet from a positive view vs a negative one; I think it helps the body heal more quickly.  You will slowly get better and your body will be able to tolerate more foods in the future than you can today.

xo,

jessica


Paleo Vanilla Ice Cream Milkshake

Paleo Vanilla Ice Cream Milkshake

Yummerroo!
I have a delicious recipe for you.

Before I got Crohn’s Disease, I (like most people) loved ice cream and frozen yogurt.

I liked mine melted so I would either stir it, stick it in the microwave or even the oven to get it to what I considered that perfect creamy texture.

Crohn’s changed everything in my life including my ability to eat ice cream and frozen yogurt. I have even tried the frozen rice and coconut based ice creams that specialty stores carry but the end result has consistently been me in a lot of pain.

And that is just no fun for anyone.

Enter the AIP (autoimmune protocol) of the Paleo diet. This diet has changed my life, I cannot say enough wonderful things about it. I went on it in January in hopes of tolerating my chemotherapy for leukemia because it (the chemo) was making my intestines mimic a Crohn’s flare.

Long story short, the diet has done so much for me. I eat more veggies and fruits than I ever have in my entire life.

I am able to eat food—real food without pain or distress. And if you have crohn’s or colitis (or any type of pain that food sensitivities can trigger) than you understand why this is such a big deal to me. Yes, I do a lot of cooking but I get to eat yummy stuff and I feel fabulous.

It is fun 🙂

So, yesterday was the 4th of July. Hubby and I kept it low key and enjoyed music + fireworks from our screened porch. We also spent most of the night trying to calm our dog down; we agreed that the 4th of July must be the scariest night of the year for dogs.

I created a recipe for vanilla ice cream that has that perfect creamy texture which I love.

Just like ice cream is not particularly healthy, this decadent treat is one to be enjoyed on special occasions (I was not aiming for healthy when I created it).

It is also migraine friendly, there are no common migraine-trigger foods in this recipe.

Servings: 2 Milkshakes

Ingredients

1 Can of Full Fat Coconut Milk (I like it refrigerated > 12 hours so that it is thick)

2 Tbsp Ghee or Grass-fed Butter

2 Tbsp Pure Vanilla

7 Tbsp Maple Syrup (a little less than 1/2 cup)

1/4 tsp Coarse Sea Salt (**I used coarse salt because that is what we have in the house right now, I think that if you use regular texture, you would use less than 1/4 tsp. Try a pinch or 1/8 of a tsp**)

Directions

Melt ghee or butter, syrup, vanilla in pan over low heat. Add can of coconut milk and salt. Stir for ~3 minutes until everything is mixed well.

Pour mixture into a blender with ~ 1 cup of ice chips

Blend

Enjoy

Migraine Tip: This does not have preservatives so it is a migraine friendly, dairy free “ice cream” treat 


Friday Funday Paleo Milkshake

Friday Funday milkshake

Friday Funday Paleo Milkshake

I was a sugar tooth through my 20’s! I loved sweets and anyone who did life with me during that decade can probably recall my endless trips to TCBY or Ben & Jerry’s. However somewhere along the way my tastes changed and now, at 43, I will usually take salty food over sweets any day.

But there are still times that sweet treats call my name.

Given the summer heat, the influx of ice cream pics on my social media feed and (well, hormones) this morning I wanted a something cold, sweet and yummy.

I went to make the Peaches and Vanilla AIP Smoothie that I made the other day but I stumbled upon magical wonderfulness that is a tremendous upgrade to the recipe.

I must share!

I had refrigerated several cans of coconut milk for a few days. When you refrigerate coconut milk the top portion turns into a thick coconut cream. It was ~ 1/2 – 2/3 of the can. I also used a bag of frozen peaches (2 cups).

Ingredients

1 Can Refrigerated Coconut Milk (use the cream and the liquid milk)

2 Cups Sliced Peaches (if they are not frozen, add ice to your shake)

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp Vanilla

Pinch of Sea Salt

Pour ingredients into blender and mix on high

Topping

1/4 Cup Almonds — slice (**Leave the almonds out of this for AIP)

1/4 Cup Raw, Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

Pinch of Sea Salt

Roast almonds, coconut flakes and sea salt in 1/2 teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil on stove top in pan (simple–that is how I did it)

Dark Cherries for added benefit of ant-inflammatory, pain-relieving properties (plus–extra yum)

**Note to Miraineurs**

Almonds, like all nuts can be migraine triggers.

I am able to tolerate 1/4 cup of them a few times a week. But I had to avoid them for 6 months before re-introducing them. I cannot use gelatin, whey, almond butter, soy, or other proteins that are often used in smoothies. You might find that a small amount of almonds are a “safe” protein for you also.

**To you Migrane Sufferers**

I am working on a blog post that addresses the things that I have found helpful in managing my migraines. After living with them for 20 years, I have literally tried almost everything out there.

The post I am working on is pretty extensive as I want it to be helpful to you.

For now, I want to let you know that there is a book that I have turned to more times than I can count since it’s release in 2002. Of all the migraine books that I have read, I think that Heal Your Headache by Dr. David Buccholz provides the best education on migraines, treatment options (including natural), triggers and how to identify personal triggers.

There is so much more to migraines than one book can cover but this book has been my go-to and my top recommendation since it’s release.

You can view it here:

Heal Your Headache

This link contains an affiliate link which means that when you click on a link and if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission. I only recommend products which I love and all opinions are mine. The cost does not increase for you. 


Paleo Stir-fry with Peach-Based Sweet and Sour Sauce (Migraine-Friendly)

Paleo stirfy with peach sweet and sour sauce

Paleo Stir-fry with Peach-Based Sweet and Sour Sauce

I love, love, love Asian foods.

Asian foods are seasoned with spices and sauces that trigger migraines in me so I am always trying to re-work recipes, hoping to find something that will work for my body.

Last January, I started following the AIP (autoimmune protocol) Paleo Diet as a last ditch effort to tolerate my chemotherapy for leukemia. The chemo (Sprycel) can cause severe intestinal bleeding and colitis, among other GI side effects. It made my GI tract mimic a crohn’s flare.

For the most part, my body has been in remission from crohn’s for a long time however the chemo made me so sick. It was not a true crohn’s flare but the symptoms were similar enough that I decided to try the SCD (specific carboyhdrate diet) to see if I could get it under control.

*Over the past 14 years, I have used the SCD to help control the crohn’s.

Long story short, while looking for SCD recipes online, I stumbled into infomation on AIP. I decided to give it a try.

My choices were pretty limited: tolerate the chemo or look at other options which include bone marrow transplant. 

I responded quickly to the AIP, the inflammation in my gut started to calm down, the intestinal pain and other symptoms that were similar to a flare began to diminish.

Now I am fine and I tolerate the chemo without problems (I do take it with a lactaid pill per order of my oncologist because it is coated in lactose–that is something we started early on but it did not help until I went on the AIP).

I am back in remission and I will continue to take Sprycel daily, it is called a target chemotherapy.

Since starting the AIP/Paleo 6 months ago, my body has healed in more ways than just the GI inflammation. I am going to write another post addressing the changes.

For now, I want to share this deeeelicious recipe that I came up with as a migraine friendly sweet and sour sauce.

Over the past 6 months, I have hoped that I would be able to tolerate coconut aminos  and fish sauce because many people who follow AIP or Paleo do well with those ingredients. However, I tried them a few times and each time, I ended up with a whopper of a migraine.

I have officially put them on my migraine trigger list. Another food that is a migraine trigger for me is pineapple (it is often used in sweet and sour sauce).

Tonight, I was craving Asian food so badly that I was 1 step away from calling our nearest Thai restaurant (a definite, delicious ticket to a migraine).

Instead of going for Thai, I grabbed some peaches from the freezer, some spices and developed a yummy Paleo sweet and sour sauce. This has reintro spices so I am calling it Paleo vs. AIP.

Peach-Based Sweet and Sour Sauce

Yields: 20 oz (about 3-1/4 cups)

2 Cups sliced peaches

2 Tbsp ghee

7 Tbsp white distilled vinegar

1-1/4 tsp sea salt **The Sea Salt that we have is Coarse so I suspect that if you use regular texture, you would not need to use this much salt–I will let you know once I buy some regular texture**

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 Cup maple syrup

1/3 Cup water

 

Mix all ingredients in a pan on medium heat

Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes

Pour mixture into blender and pulsate for 15 seconds

Stir-fry

I eat rice 1-2 times a week. This would have been delicious with chicken however we did not have any in the house, so I used almonds as my protein.

Nuts are on the migraine trigger list and I don’t eat them regularly however I am able to eat almonds occasionally.

2 Tbsp coconut oil

5 Radishes

3 Large handfuls of kale

Almonds (sliced)

Sautee for 5 minutes on medium-low.

Add 1-1/2 cups of Peach-Based Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add rice (as much as you want)

Stir and simmer

Add sea salt, pepper and cayenne according to your taste


Migraine Friendly German Potato Salad

Migraine Friendly, Nightshade-Free Potato Salad

The weather fronts, seasonal allergens and hormonal swings over the past 1-1/2 weeks have left me wrestling with some mean migraines.

This afternoon my most recent migraine started to dissipate and I started thinking about food. That is when I realized that I had not had much to eat in the past 48 hours other than apple sauce, rice and a smoothie (migraines often make me too sick to eat or hold food down).

I decided to make my ridiculously easy salt and pepper chicken thighs (which taste like fried chicken) and I desperately wanted a side of potato salad to go with my “fried chicken”.

Problem is, potatoes give me migraines. They are a trigger for many people and certainly are for me.

I have been following the AIP (autoimmune protocol of the Paleo Diet) for crohn’s management since January. It has done wonders for me and I will write about it another time.

For tonight…

Something that I have learned is that white potatoes are in the nightshade family. Nightshades often cause joint pain, inflammation and yes–migraines.

I spent the past decade wondering why I would get nasty migraines every time I ate white potatoes. Now I know that it is because of the neurotoxic alkaloids in nightshades. Here is an interesting article on nightshades and migraines.

With my cravings set strongly on potato salad, I decided to try and make a version that fits the AIP guidelines which is nightshade free and migraine friendly.

(this is AIP with re-intro spices)

It turned out to be delicious!

Hubby approved and said “this is a winner” .

We both agree that it is good enough to serve to company (which has been the litmus test for a recipe in my family since my childhood)

Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 large Japanese sweet potatoes (white sweet potatoes) diced

2/3 Cup diced shallots

2 tsp Olive oil

1-1/2 Tbsp salt **The Sea Salt that we have is Coarse so I suspect that if you use regular texture, you would not need to use this much salt–I will let you know once I buy some regular texture**

1 Cup White Distilled Vinegar

3 Tbsp Dry Mustard

2 Tbsp Dill Weed

1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

~ Leave the skin on the potatoes to add color and nutrients to the salad~

1. Cover the diced potatoes with water and 1/2 Tbsp of salt

2. Bring potatoes to a boil, cover and simmer on low for ~ 6 minutes (until soft)

3. Drain potatoes (I used a colander)

4. Mix 1 Cup of white vinegar and 1 Tbsp of salt with warm potatoes (they will absorb the flavor while they marinate)

5. Saute shallots in olive oil for 3 minutes until tender

6. Mix cooked shallots (along with the olive oil that you sauteed them in), dry mustard, dill weed and parsley and olive oil with the marinated potatoes

~Enjoy~

**To you Migrane Sufferers**

I am working on a blog post that addresses the things that I have found helpful in managing my migraines. After living with them for 20 years, I have literally tried almost everything out there.

The post I am working on is pretty extensive as I want it to be helpful to you.

For now, I want to let you know that there is a book that I have turned to more times than I can count since it’s release in 2002. Of all the migraine books that I have read, I think that Heal Your Headache by Dr. David Buccholz provides the best education on migraines, treatment options (including natural), triggers and how to identify personal triggers.

There is so much more to migraines than one book can cover but this book has been my go-to and my top recommendation since it’s release.

You can view it here:

Heal Your Headache

This link contains an affiliate link which means that when you click on a link and if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission. I only recommend products which I love and all opinions are mine. The cost does not increase for you.