What Food Sensitivities Taught Me
When I began my journey into the world of food and migraine, I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew what my “trigger” foods were, so I did all I could to avoid them. However, I was soon to discover that this was only half of the picture.
My trigger foods were a long list that included:
- Canola oil
- Vegetable oil
- Soy sauce
- Sesame seed oil
However, despite identifying these trigger foods, I soon came to realize that there were other foods that might not cause a migraine within an hour of my eating them, but that was still contributing to my headaches in general.
I call these my food sensitivities. My sensitivities included items such as dairy, gluten products, bread, refined flour products, yeast-containing products, any processed food, and eggs. But because these were not immediate migraine triggers, I dismissed the fact that they could possibly be contributing to my pain.
That is until I removed them from my diet and realized without them, I felt better than I ever thought I could.
What Did My Food Sensitivities Teach Me?
Upon discovering my trigger foods/food sensitivities, I learned that food is essentially just another form of self-care and that what we put in our bodies every single hour of every single day matters and has consequences.
This was a game-changer for me, as suddenly I started to look at food in a totally different light. As a result, I started to learn about food as medicine and about how to truly listen to my body.
I realized that my body was talking to me all the time; I just had to tune in and listen. After eating a specific food or food group, my body would tell me if it was feeling light, energetic and comfortable, or whether I was feeling sluggish with low energy and a foggy head.
Once I made this connection, it allowed me to start to take back control again, which felt fantastic. My body was no longer in charge of me, I was in charge of it again.
Why Was This Beneficial For My Health Journey?
This discovery helped me tremendously because I realized that there was a cause and effect relationship with food just like there were a cause and effect relationship in so many other aspects of my health (such as emotional stimuli and my anxiety).
I experimented and played around with taking certain foods out of my diet and eventually found what worked for me; a plant-based diet full of whole single-ingredient foods. Without these intolerances, I wouldn’t have been able to understand how food affects my body and ultimately, how food can make you feel really good or rather bad.
What Changes Did I Have To Make?
In order to adapt to my trigger foods/sensitivities, I had to learn to truly put myself first and make the food I choose to put in my body a priority.
This meant understanding how to eat clean, becoming a label detective and learning to cook my own food from scratch. Until then, beans on toast had been what I considered “cooking,” so I’m sure you can appreciate that I had a lot to learn.
I took this on and embraced it. Knowing that the food I was putting in my body was clean and healthy empowered me and made me feel like I was taking action towards regaining my health. I was doing the best I could for my body at that very moment.
In this initial period, I refrained from eating out because no matter what, I realized that you never truly know what’s hidden in your food. So I would either eat prior and then meet friends at a restaurant while they ate, or I just avoided eating out and met friends for a juice/herbal tea.
I had to become a lot more disciplined and realize that no matter how good the food was on offer, even it was the best pizza man had ever made, it just was not worth it.
I also had to learn to become better at food prepping because without it sometimes I could leave myself exposed to making bad choices. The more prepared I was, the cleaner and healthier I ate.
By putting myself first, I reduced the chance of exposing myself to any of my triggers and food sensitivities. And in return, along with my home cooking and clean eating, it meant that the severity and intensity of my headaches hugely declined.
How Did I Cope with the Changes?
Making these changes was a big lifestyle adjustment and one that I will admit felt a little difficult at first. But honestly, it’s amazing how quickly you adapt.
Of course, I was surrounded by temptation, but I would always go back to, “It’s just not worth it.” And as time went on, I genuinely didn’t want to eat those foods that were a problem for me; I adored the new foods that I was eating that made me feel good.
For me, it was as simple as, “I am now going to put my health first.” And food became such a huge part of this. I adore making my meals from real food, preparing it myself and feeling great afterward. Nothing feels better.
How things have changed over time
I want to reassure you though that even though your body may be sensitive to foods at this moment in time, it doesn’t mean that it is going to be this way forever. It’s just temporary.
Before I got struck down with a chronic migraine, I could eat all of the foods on my triggers list. Even if they weren’t all good for me, I could eat them. I ate onions in pretty much everything, chocolate almost every day and fried my food in any oil going.
When my migraines hit I became super sensitive; everything changed and I had to remove all of the above triggers/sensitivities from my diet. However, as my migraines started to become fewer and decline in intensity and severity due to my new clean, whole foods plant-based diet, I began to notice that so did my sensitivities and triggers. My body simply didn’t have to the same reaction to them anymore because I was stronger and healthier.
From then on I was able to introduce those foods back into my diet. I could have a lemon and ginger tea, a banana and cacao smoothie and add onions to my curries.
Fast forward to the present day where I am totally migraine free, and not one of those items would cause me a problem.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t choose to eat those foods on a consistent daily basis because they do not serve my health, but nowadays I can treat myself to an almond croissant, a cheeky glass of wine or chocolate pudding as a one-off and it’s no big deal.
Overall, my food sensitives led me to understand what real whole foods were, how to nourish my body with them rather than continuing to eat processed foods, and how to listen to my body because it was always talking to me and telling me what made it feel good or bad.