Does future migraine = cheeseburger craving? Here's how Jaime Sanders overcomes these urges — and when she caves.
Let’s admit it. We all get food cravings! But food cravings can also be a sign that you’re about to get a migraine, according to the American Migraine Foundation.
People often crave certain foods during the pre-headache phase of a migraine attack. For me, this typically occurs a few hours to a few days before a headache hits.
It can be difficult to resist sugary, salty, fatty, or fried foods. The problem is, we hardly ever feel good about ourselves after we eat unhealthy foods.
And choosing the wrong foods may even trigger migraine symptoms. That’s why it’s a good idea to understand and manage your migraine food cravings.
I didn’t always recognize that a hankering for a certain food was a symptom of migraine. At first, I assumed I was just having random cravings. I usually gave in.
A headache diary documents your symptoms and helps you to notice patterns. It’s especially helpful if you’re just starting out on your migraine journey. You may notice that you experience certain food cravings prior to the headache phase of your migraine.
Once I saw a pattern in my cravings, I was able to figure out how to better manage them.
I noticed that I crave very specific foods when a migraine attack is coming. I want savory, carb-heavy, and fatty meals. Others may crave sweets, chocolate, fatty foods, or certain spices.
My sole craving for years was a juicy cheeseburger. There’s something about the bun, the meat, and toppings that sends me into food oblivion. Three foods that come up often for me lately are hamburgers, roast beef sandwiches, and sushi.
My migraine food cravings can be hard to ignore and overcome sometimes. I also know I’m not always craving the healthiest of foods. So I’ve come up with strategies to distract myself. Sometimes I give in, but I try to indulge in a healthy way.
Here are my top tried-and-true tips for managing migraine food cravings.
I always keep a bottle of water near me. I find that drinking flavored water often quashes a craving. But be careful about artificial flavorings, because they can trigger a migraine.
Infuse your water with fresh or frozen fruit to give it a flavor boost! My favorite add-ins are lime, lemon, strawberry, and pineapple.
Working out is an excellent diversion whenever I feel overwhelmed by food. I take my two dogs for a 10-minute walk if I’m physically up for it.
Walking clears my mind and gives me energy. Most of the time I also forget about my food craving. I often come back home wanting something healthier.
Sometimes I really do need to eat right away. I try to divert myself to another food because I know I’ll feel better about myself.
I also prepare a dozen hard-boiled eggs when I have the energy. I keep them in the refrigerator as a toast topping or a quick and filling snack.
I also enjoy a cup of bullet coffee made with almond milk creamer and either coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or ghee. It’s yummy and gives me pep. Again, pay attention to your own triggers. Milk substitutes, like soy milk, can trigger migraines for some people.
There are times when I just can’t seem to get a craving to go away. Sometimes I go ahead and indulge if I’m at a restaurant or ordering takeout with my family. I just try to make healthy adjustments.
For example, I order my burger with no cheese and bun and have it wrapped in lettuce. It’s still very good. And it satisfies my craving.
When I’m craving a roast beef sub, I buy my own healthy ingredients and make one at home instead of ordering from a sandwich shop.
It’s easier to make healthier choices when you cook. I use sprouted multigrain bread instead of a sub roll. I top it with wasabi-avocado oil mayo instead of regular mayonnaise. I add lots of spring greens, tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar.
It’s so delicious! Tastes better than store-bought! And it’s better for me.
As for my sushi cravings, I don’t always feel so bad about giving in. My favorites are spicy tuna and salmon rolls with a good dose of wasabi. I don’t like a lot of fillers. Just give me seafood, fish roe, rice, nori, avocado, jalapenos, and wasabi. I’m good to go.
Sushi can be expensive. So I don’t indulge in it often. When I do, it’s a treat to myself.
Managing migraine food cravings isn’t easy. But it is doable.
The first step is to recognize your cravings as well as your own migraine triggers. Then experiment with healthier ways to manage them.
You can do it!
For more information on how to manage migraine, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00672 May 2021
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