Getting started is the hardest part of an elimination diet and here's some tips on how to start a migraine diet like Heal Your Headache. I’m pretty sure I cried the first week. But without changes, one cannot make progress!
- Get your family on board. This might require some extra cooking on your part and potentially having your spouse read the Heal Your Headache book as well (which I highly recommend in general). If you can stock up on some good HYH safe recipes, it will be much easier on you or whoever is doing the cooking.
- Choose at least 3-4 recipes in advance that you will make that week. I make this really easy for you with the 5 Day FREE Meal Plan.
- Plan out your grocery list and method of delivery. Once you have your recipes chosen, write out your grocery list. Because many can be triggered by grocery stores, I highly recommend grocery delivery services like Thrive Market, Instacart, or Amazon. Even if you have to go to the grocery store, being prepared in advance will save you extra trips. I also highly recommend going when the store isn’t as crowded, either earlier in the morning or later at night. FL-41 lenses and a hat can help with the florescent lights. All Dizzy Cook recipes are found here.
- Plan in snacks and quick meals. Sometimes you will feel downright crappy and this will be the easiest time to fall off the diet. Have staples near like sunbutter, crackers, fresh mozzarella cheese, pears or apples and safe berries, and gluten free or regular pasta. It may not be the most amazing meal, but it will get you through to the next day and one step closer to feeling better. Check out the Pantry Staples post for TONS of ideas.
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel better right away. These things take time. In fact, they say to give the diet 3-4 months of strictly following before you start to reintroduce potential trigger foods. Should you not feel better by then, you can look at eliminating things like seeds, apples, seafood, eggs, etc. that can have higher histamine content, or potentially switching to a stricter diet like Charleston or Ketogenic.
- Know that you’re doing this to help you and your family. If this can work for you and make you feel better, it will improve the quality of life for yourself and your family.
- Eating out doesn’t have to be a distant memory. While it’s much easier to know what you’re getting at home, sometimes it’s just not an option. A good tip is to look at the menu before you go. Try to avoid sauces and items with hidden onions! I find calling ahead can be helpful. If you don’t have that kind of time, mention to the waiter the things you might be worried about in the meal you want. They will usually try to clarify if you have an allergy and be willing to work with you. If all else fails, order a burger or steak (and clarify to only season with salt & pepper) or an undressed salad with some olive oil on the side.
- Mocktails are your friend. It’s not so bad giving up drinks when you have sparkling water and ways to spruce it up! Cucumber and mint, some rosemary with strawberries, muddled berries in general, a splash of pomegranate juice - all very refreshing! I find even at restaurants they can whip one of these up for you if you ask nicely. Once you get further along into the diet you could try vodka or organic white wines. Try this pear mojito or learn some additional tips here.
- If at first you don’t succeed...try again. I’m pretty sure I messed up about 20 times my first few weeks. Just stick with it and don’t be discouraged. Overall you’re working towards something much greater and will have reduced your triggers, even if one slips through. Try to be aware of where the mistakes are and carry lists of hidden msg names or “no” foods to help you when you’re shopping. Understand it gets much easier over time and pretty soon you’ll be a pro!
Want to know more about how to start a migraine diet? This post explains the Heal Your Headache low tyramine diet.