The Making of A Migraine-Free Cookbook

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The Dizzy Cook Cookbook - Migraine-Free Recipes Coming Early 2020

Look for The Dizzy Cook in bookstores and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble early 2020. You can pre-order the paperback and hardback version here .

You may have noticed a lack of posts, and especially recipes lately. If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve been a little pre-occupied finalizing my migraine-free cookbook. I signed off on the project with West Margin Press, a branch of Ingram, around this time last year. My amazing editor, Jen, had approached me earlier that year about doing a cookbook for people trying a migraine diet. At first I thought she was kidding. I was the only student in my AP English class that didn’t pass the AP test, which made me feel like a huge loser in high school. To this day I have a vision of my English teacher walking around with a bell yelling “Shame! Shame!”, but that could be from all my binge-watching of Game of Thrones….

Anyway at the time, it seemed like only my mom and my friends at Migraine Strong read my little blog. Thankfully Jen was one of them too!

The Dizzy Cook book cover

Another Migraine Diet (and VM!) Resource

As you all know, there’s a serious shortage of resources for anyone trying to follow the Heal Your Headache diet, or any of the low tyramine versions similar to it that are recommended by the top migraine clinics like Johns Hopkins. The resources out there are appreciated, but I remember when I was first on the diet, they just didn’t have the food I desired – which was comfort food, but clean. For someone who loves food, the last thing I wanted to feel when in a state of chronic vestibular migraine was like I was also on a strict diet.

It’s now almost a year later and I just sent off my first manuscript along with all the pictures I took. If you would have told me 3 years ago that my life would change with just an idea and a desire to help others in my situation, I would have called you crazy. I had my pity party for a few months where I cried on the couch, watched way too many Housewives reruns, and cursed my old employer that essentially forced me out of my career of 8 years.

Life is funny that way. One day you’re at the top of the world, and the next moment you’re in the trenches. In just a month, I went from being super active to hardly being able to walk. Now three years later, I keep wanting to say the “r” word, but I’m too scared. I’m off my preventative medication, just managing with supplements and continuing to eliminate the triggers I found from doing this diet – nuts, fermented foods like yogurt, and caffeine. This means I freely enjoy guacamole on my tacos after I take pictures for this site. And this is my hope for every single reader too!

The “R” Word & Vestibular Migraine

It doesn’t come without fear. Here I’m even scared to say the word “remission” just in case it comes back, especially as I try to have my own family. I hear so many stories of this coming on for people after pregnancy, what does that mean if you have it before you even get pregnant?

As I feel on top of the world with this book, another part of my life is in pain. For the past year and a half we’ve been trying to have a baby. I finally got pregnant last December. Both elated and terrified, instead of the real fears I should have been thinking, I was worried about food cravings affecting all my recipe testing. But just weeks later it was all gone, and my body began to change back to normal.

Infertility

I’ve sadly experienced this feeling twice now, which means we are looking into why this keeps happening and what the next steps are. In my mind, I see friends who announce pregnancies and never had to deal with a chronic issue. I think “how can they be so lucky?”. Why did I get stuck with chronic VM AND infertility…haven’t I been through enough?! It’s so easy to be angry and jealous with others who have nothing to do with our issues. However, if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that a great doctor can make all the difference in the world. If Dr. Beh could help me get my life back, I need to trust my OB to bring another life into this world.

For now, this book feels like my baby. It’s the kind of resource I wish I had when I felt so scared and alone. Remembering that feeling, I put my heart and soul into it. When developing recipes, I thought of the few people I know who can’t tolerate eggs, the ones who are gluten free, and even my vegetarian and vegan friends. I remembered the people who complain about breakfast options, and tried to be as creative as possible! Even some of the requests from readers, like Mandy, of the things they missed most are in there. Every ounce of helpful info that I’ve learned about vestibular migraine is included as well, along with travel tips and meal plan ideas. Oh and The Dizzy Baker makes an appearance too!

Recipe Development

The development of recipes took me the most time. I wanted a range of them – from easy to more challenging, and creative to more traditional. The most common complaint I get from readers about my recipes are that some are too complicated. For me, and my friend Jennifer, there’s a reason we like more complicated recipes. It helps us to be mindful, present in that moment and not thinking about pain or dizziness. But for those that aren’t able to spend a lot of time or effort, I wanted to include some recipes that you or a family member could make ahead and freeze. If you haven’t checked out this 5 day meal plan, you may find it helpful.

4 Weeks for 90+ Recipes

A messy kitchen with flour and cookies
The constant state of my kitchen for the past month.

As for the pictures, I waited until the last minute which required me to cook over 90 recipes in 4 weeks. Let me tell you, THE STRUGGLE WAS REAL. There were moments when I sat in my kitchen whining to Casey about cooking yet again. Some of the grunts and groans that came out of my mouth probably made my dogs question my sanity (Casey already did a long time ago). I just really wanted take out!!! But let me tell you, it can be done! Once you just start and get about 5 minutes in, you tend to forget about all the dread you had before. And, as usual, a homemade meal tastes better than take out 99.9% of the time.

So with that, I am back, albeit about 6 pounds heavier!! And ready to get back into posting more regularly for my few readers and loyal recipe makers (shoutout Nancy and Brandy) I still have left – woohoo!

Over the next few months I’ll be doing some exciting promotions and giveaways so stay tuned. I’ll also be offering special editions and signed copies through the site. 

Oh, and I’m legit getting takeout tonight.

A picture of a woman passed out on the floor
My dogs making sure I’m not dead.

For all the recipes so far, visit this link.

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.

21 comments

  1. Pam

    Congratulations on the cookbook … I will definitely be buying it, as you’ve been tremendously helpful to me in my journey of starting this diet … I absolutely hate having to do it, but I’m about 3 months in, and the results I see from it (along with supplements and preventative meds) are huge. As a “foodie” and a cook, in the beginning it was so overwhelming and having your site for inspiration and information has been really great. I’m happy to say most of my days are about 75-85% now and I’m hoping to continue to improve even further!

    So happy to hear about your progress, and I’m sure a baby will come to you at just the right time … hang in there. Motherhood will be worth EVERY struggle. xo

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Pam, this makes me so happy for you! And you’re right around the time you can start reintroducing soon too! I’d love to do a testimony page for people one day just so they can see it’s not as difficult as we think in the beginning. Thanks for being such a great reader (and for your kind comments on motherhood!).

      Reply

  2. Amber

    I am so excited for your book. I have found this website such an enormous relief and help since I started the Heal your Headache diet 2 weeks ago.

    While it’s still early days for me, knowing that it has worked for other people, like yourself, has made me more positive to not crumble and carry on strong. Thank you for being my inspiration to hang in there. And making a migraine free diet so much tastier!

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      I’m so thrilled to hear that, Amber! Thank you for letting me know what a difference it has made for you. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Lucy

    Congratulations on the forthcoming book! I’m coming here to tell you how important this blog has been to me over the last month. In mid-May, I was diagnosed with vestibular migraines by a doctor at Johns Hopkins after a long journey through a vast array of doctors. He recommended Heal Your Headache and that led me here. I can’t tell you how much relief this blog has given me. Finding good, reliably safe recipes when I was feeling overwhelmed about feeling ill AND having to radically change my diet has been so comforting. And the past two weeks I’ve felt 80% better, for which I am very grateful. Thank you so much for making your recipes available and I look forward to buying your book!

    Also, as someone who has suffered from infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, you are not alone! It is such a difficult time, and I’m hopeful you find success. Having a doctor you have confidence in is a large part of the process, so it sounds like you are on the right track. Hang in there.

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Thank you so much, Lucy. That’s so awesome you’ve made such great improvements in a short amount of time! That’s truly amazing. I appreciate your kind words too. I’ll keep up the hope! Ps your dog is the cutest!!!

      Reply

  4. Brandy Mitchell

    I am so excited for your cook book to come out. If I could reserve a copy now I would. You have helped me so much I am so very grateful for what you do.

    Reply

  5. Max

    New to this diet. About a month and a half in now and maybe I feel a slight difference. Definitely better then where I was when this first started. Thankfully. However, I’m curious as to if my diet is diverse and good enough so I thought I’d leave a comment including what I eat and if these items are okay. I usually start every morning with regular Cheerios or regular Chex with whole milk. Is whole milk okay? Or do you prefer non dairy milks? Before lunch I’ll have sun butter on a piece of Dave’s killer bread. Dave’s killer bread appears to have fine ingredients except for maybe vinegar? Lunch time is the interesting one. I’ll have a sandwhich with Trader Joe’s turkey deli meat. The ingredients were quite simple: water, turkey breast, salt. No nitrates and gluten free. However, I saw in another post of yours that added water is no good? Is this okay to be eating? I’ll add a piece of Trader Joe’s mozzarella cheese which doesn’t appear to have any negative additives, nor is it smoked or aged. But I saw that you said fresh mozzarella is recommended. How do I know if it’s fresh? Lol. Is any cheese in a sealed bag by the deli meats a no go? For dinner I’ve been cooking chicken and hamburgers and steak. However, just tonight I didn’t even realize that this whole time PAM cooking spray has soy in it which might be setting me back. Also never even thought to look at butter ingredients which I’ve been using one with “natural flavors”. I’m hoping discontinuing Pam and finding a better butter will help me even further. Which is the best butter? I also take ONE multivitamin by pure encapsulations to aid in this diet modification. And the other migraine supplements. Thanks for any feedback. I just want to make sure I’m doing this right. I know you didn’t see progress until month 4 so I shouldn’t get my hopes down. But still. Oh, what is the best salt too? Oh and I found a honey mustard that I saw that you didn’t include in your “foods that you can eat list”. The ingredients are rather long so I won’t post anymore than I have, so I’ll just list the brand and maybe you can tell me?? I’m over thinking everything and getting real ocd with these ingredients, I know lol. It’s “French’s honey mustard. Made with real honey”

    Thank you!! Hope you can answer my questions and I hope I didn’t ask too much!

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Whole milk is perfectly fine. I just suggest certain non-dairy milks for those who have an allergy.
      Dave’s killer bread is fine, it uses distilled vinegar.
      I would recommend changing from deli meat to a “naked” rotisserie chicken or chicken without seasonings that is made fresh. Deli meat can be high in tyramine because you’re not really sure how fresh it is or when it was cooked, especially when packaged. Sometimes it can be safe if you go to a local butcher who can guarantee this for you. Tyramine build up occurs when bacteria is present, which is why some packaged items are ok and others are not.
      Fresh mozzarella is the kind that are usually in balls packaged in water. But I’m sure the cheese sticks are ok in a pinch.

      Soybean oil is also fine. It’s just soy protein and actual soybeans that you want to avoid. Kerrygold brand has the best butter, but any brand without natural flavoring is ok. It should just have cream as the ingredients.

      Thats a very good multivitamin to take.

      For the French’s honey mustard, I often tell people to avoid “spices” because that can often include hidden msg. You may be able to email the company saying you have an allergy and ask them what it means specifically. Or you can make you own using Annie’s mustard and honey.

      All salts are fine. I use Diamond Kosher brand in my cooking, but anything is fine.

      If I could make a recommendation, I would add some more fruits and vegetables to your diet! Apples, peaches, pears, with breakfast and maybe a small salad or cucumber and lettuce on your sandwich. Just for a little more variety and nutrients. Leafy greens can be good for magnesium too. I hope that answers everything!

      Reply

      1. Max

        Thanks for the quick reply! That’s interesting about the deli meats. I’m not much of a cook so I like to find things that are quick and simple, at least for lunch. I did buy a rotisserie chicken once from Whole Foods and used it for Sandwhiches. What are your thoughts on probiotics in pill form? It seems that every food containing probiotics are no good for this diet. Also I read the book and Dr. states that herbs are probably best avoided. Things like sleepytime tea are no good?

        Reply

        1. Alicia

          Align probiotics seem to be the most well tolerated. If you’re incorporating a lot of good fruits, vegetables, and fiber in with the diet you may find that you don’t need a probiotic. My gut issues all stopped once I was on this diet.

          Herbs – you mean like spices? I’m not sure where you’re getting that.
          You can have naturally decaffeinated teas not just “decaf” teas. So like green rooibos and ginger tea would be ok, but not decaf green tea.

          Reply

          1. Max

            Well I actually brought up the probiotics because newer studies suggest that they help with mood. My gut is fine as well. I’ve been taking one daily but it’s hard to tell what’s a trigger as it’s a chronic condition. Are probiotics in pill form known to be a trigger?

            Thanks again for all the help.

          2. Anonymous

            Oh and as for my herb comment I was referring to page 131 in the heal your headache book.

          3. Alicia

            Sometimes probiotics can be a trigger, especially those who are histamine sensitive. I would work on decreasing triggers in other areas though for now. And the herbs he’s talking about are like chinese herbs or trendy supplements where you don’t know where they’re coming from. Not supplements like from Pure Encapsulations or the ones recommended here.

          4. Max

            Appreciate all the info. Info on this is very limited it seems, so it’s good to have someone like you leading the way. Perhaps I will update you in another month or two on my progress! Who doesn’t like a good progress story?!

          5. Alicia

            I would LOVE to hear yours very soon. 🙂

  6. Anonymous

    Congratulations on your wonderful new book. I have been using your newsletter as a source of emotional support during my vestibular migraine journey. Thank you for your great sense of humour.
    Judith

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Thank you, Judith. What a lovely compliment! 🙂

      Reply

  7. Anne Sternheim

    Congratulations! Can’t wait for the book. Love your recipes! 🙂

    Reply

  8. Krystal

    Congrats on the cookbook, I will definitely be ordering it! Over the past year, I’ve often come to your website when I’m feeling overwhelmed with eating around my migraine triggers and trying to follow the elimination diet. Your post on supplements was super helpful too, and the next time I see my neurologist I plan on going over a new regimen with her. Thanks, and hope you’re feeling well! 🙂

    Reply

  9. helene

    excellent and well done thanks

    Reply

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