Today marks the start of my elimination diet.
I have a firm belief that we must endeavour to control and manipulate the elements of our life that we have power over. If you feel tired in the morning, go to bed earlier! A more common solution is to down a venti americano and chase it with a grande latte.
I believe supplementation and medication is phase two.
Phase one is looking within and taking a fine tooth comb over your daily habits, routines, beliefs, attitudes, and opinions. If you already go to bed early, but you still feel tired upon waking, take a look at your evening rituals – screen time, food choices, topics of conversation – or look at your sleep environment – temperature, lighting, other sense stimulators. Attend to your sleep hygiene before you reach for that extra shot of espresso. You may find you don’t need it after all.
I have tried many supplements and medications to relieve myself of persistent migraine attacks, and when asked what works, my answer is always morphine and Jason Momoa.
And even if a supplement or medication works, they can be very expensive, and many come with a litany of awful side effects that could significantly restrict your quality of life. Not to mention that you are commiting to taking them, sometimes daily, into the foreseeable future.
So instead of focusing on what I can add to my already taxed body, I am focusing on what I can remove through the use of an elimination diet.
Food is something most of us have a fair amount of control over. Hopefully, no one is forcing food down your throat and you have a say in the family grocery list. The internet is flooded with articles and videos about nutrition to give you guidance, so there’s really no excuse for ignorance these days. We all know processed foods, sugar, and alcohol are bad for us. There is still some debate on other foods, but those we know for sure. And yet I still see people regularly partaking in these damaging eating habits, even those who I know suffer from chronic illness and migraine.
The Paleo Diet – My Current Status Quo
I have been eating the Paleo Diet for over 4 years now. Besides getting rid of the aforementioned nasties, this diet basically involves eliminating grains, dairy, and legumes. The focus shifts to eating lean meats, fish and eggs, ample fresh veggies, seasonal fruits, and healthy fats like avocado, coconut, and a variety of nuts and seeds. This diet has been fantastic for mood control, weight loss and maintenance, fueling my athletic pursuits, and reducing my susceptibility to common illnesses.
But it hasn’t touched my migraines.
Today, my wonderfully supportive husband and I have started an elimination diet called the Autoimmune Protocol, or AIP for short. This is actually a diet designed to heal autoimmune disorders (of which there are countless!), but as trying it causes no risk to my health, it’s worth a try. Reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system is a worthy cause in and of itself, and if I can manipulate my food intake and see positive results with my migraines, I will do it!
I would rather make changes to my diet and lifestyle than start taking supplements or medications that I might need to stay on for the rest of my life. Those options aren’t going anywhere, and they shall remain my “phase two” until I have created the healthiest, strongest version of myself and determined whether those efforts have yielded enough positive progress.
So what is the Autoimmune Protocol Diet?
Well, you take your basic Paleolithic Diet and make some further cuts. The main cuts being eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshade vegetables (think potato, tomato, peppers etc.). There is no demonizing these wonderful foods, but for the sake of science, they must go. These foods, and those previously eliminated through the Paleo Diet, are less optimal for those whose health is already compromised. Being that migraine is a hypersensitivity or reactivity in the brain, it’s hardly surprising that I find myself sensitive to many other things that don’t seem to bother the average person. An interesting parallel between autoimmune disorders and the neurological disorder of migraine is that with AI, the immune system overreacts to “normal” stimulus (let’s say a tomato) and begins wreaking havoc on the cells of the body. In migraine, the brain overreacts to “normal” stimulus (like hormonal fluctuations or the smell of perfume) and begins sending out pain signals as if it’s being attacked. It would seem there’s a correlation between these two disorders, where the body isn’t responding in a typical fashion and produces undesirable outcomes of pain and sensitivity. Perhaps the AIP diet can help to ease the reactivity of not only the immune system, but the central nervous system too.
We’re going to find out!
I will be sharing meal ideas and overall impressions of the diet through my Instagram account @missmaggiejayne so head on over there to follow my journey.
If you have tried an elimination diet for your chronic illness, migraine or otherwise, please feel free to share your insights! They could be very valuable for others in a similar situation.
Want to know more about AIP? Check out The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. She is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but a fabulous person too!
And remember, life is what you make it. Make it happy.