How To Make The Best Food Choices That Won’t Trigger A Migraine
Nowadays, food labeling can be very deceptive. Just because something is labeled as “natural” or “healthy“ doesn’t necessarily mean that what you are eating is good for your health and is trigger free.
So how can you determine what products are suitable for your health?
The answer: understanding the specific ingredients and by becoming a label detective.
When you become a label detective and fully understand the ingredients that you are putting into your body, you can make informed choices that will benefit your health and help you identify your food triggers. As the consumer, we have so many different options available to us nowadays which is lovely, but not all of these are equal some may seem identical from their initial appearance but contain very different ingredients inside.
If you fail to spend time looking at what is going into the food you eat, you could end up triggering a migraine without realizing.
For example, you may have realized that sugar is a migraine trigger, so you try and avoid it at all costs. You are in the supermarket and want to purchase some healthy snack bars. You come across some that say ‘sugar-free’ so you decide this must be a healthy choice and they won’t trigger a migraine.
However, what you fail to look at is the ingredient list, and within the ingredient list is a whole other host of nasty migraine-inducing ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, harmful oils and natural flavorings which are there to try and make the bar taste good because it doesn’t contain real sugar.
Let’s take a look at some specific examples of the same food items but different brands and ingredients. Can you identify from each of these examples which is the healthier and cleaner choice?
Chickpea Can Product No 1
Ingredients: Organic Chickpeas, Water
Chickpea Can Product No 2
Ingredients: Chickpeas, Water, Salt, Sugar, Citric Acid-Acidity Regulator, Calcium disodium EDTA (E3845) for color retention
Salad Dressing Product No 1
Ingredients: Avocado Oil, Water, Organic Red Wine Vinegar, Sea Salt, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Basil, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Oregano, Konjac Root, Organic Crushed Chile Pepper, Organic Thyme
Salad Dressing Product No 2
Ingredients: Vinegar, Water, Blend of Vegetables, (Soybean oil, Canola Oil), Sugar, Salt, Garlic, Contains less than 2% red bell peppers, Onions, Xanthan Gum, Spice, Oleoresin, Paprika (color), Potassium Sorbate and Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect flavor)
Coconut Cream Product No 1
Ingredients: Organic Coconut Kernel Extract, Coconut Water
Coconut Cream Product No 1
Ingredients: Coconut Extract 78% (Water, Coconut), Water, Stabilizer, Guar Gum (E412), Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose (E466), Xanthan Gum (E415), Emulsifier: Distilled Monoglyceride (E471), Polysorbate 60 (E435), Bleaching Chemical: Sodium Metabisulfite (E223)
Once you can see them side by side, it is clear to see what products are the healthier, cleaner choice and which are not.
To help you navigate this grey area, here are some tips on how to make the best food choices that won’t trigger a migraine.
If you can’t pronounce it and don’t know what the ingredient is, don’t buy it
If you find an ingredient in a food product that you struggle to pronounce or have no idea what it is, then the chances are that it isn’t going to be good for you and your health. For example, you know what organic olive oil and organic lemon juice are, but do you know what sodium metabisulfite or sodium carboxymethyl is?
Such ingredients are most likely to be preservatives, colorings or some sort of chemicals that do not need to be there. The aim is to avoid chemicals and eat real food.
Do not compromise on quality
As much as sometimes the odd bad ingredient here and there may not seem like a big deal, these small choices add up and could be what it takes to push you over the migraine threshold.
So unless it’s 100% clean and you know that what you are choosing to put in your body is good for you, then don’t buy it. No matter what, do not compromise.
Be aware of the term “free-from”
Just because something is free-from, it doesn’t mean that the product is healthy. Take time to look at the rest of the ingredients as well. Free-from one potential trigger may just mean others are hidden inside.
Just because something is organic, it doesn’t mean its trigger free
Yes, with fresh fruits and vegetables, choosing organic is always a great choice. However, you can still purchase ingredients that are potential triggers that are organic too. For example, organic white flour, organic cane sugar, organic pizza dough, organic red wine, or organic cheese.
Most food items have the option to come organic, anything from milk, nuts or eggs, but ask yourself is the actual food a trigger? Food can still be a trigger even if it’s organic.