Those of you familiar with my blog know that I have managed my migraines through diet for four years. It has been very successful up to a point. There are still break through migraines occasionally, and recently, I’d say for the last year, they’ve ben creeping up in frequency again – along with my weight, which simply makes no sense.
The last straw was when I bought a nice piece of salmon already cured in some kind of far-eastern/Asian marinade, and a few hours later the result was a huge migraine.
I knew what had caused it, but it got me thinking. How many chemicals, hormones, and unseen nasties are in our meat? All being picked up by our sensitive receptors and triggering migraines.
As you know we as migraineurs have highly sensitive bodies and brains susceptible to even the minutest things. And some of you will simply prefer to not eat meat for ethical reasons.
Is it possible to survive and thrive on a low carb diet and be vegetarian? After all, many vegetarians’ daily staples are carbs. Totally counterproductive for a migraineur.
I decided to try it for myself and have been pleasantly surprised by the results.
It is possible to lower your carbs, even out your sugar and lipid levels, lose weight, and reduce migraine frequency.
Here is where I started:
- I consulted my GP who gave me the OK to change my diet slowly.
- I checked in my ‘New Atkins New You’ book for diet plans and was surprised to find a whole section of meal plans for vegetarians.
- I googled low carb, no sugar, vegetarian meal ideas.
- Searched Pinterest.
- Listened to ‘what I ate today’ for low carb vegetarian tutorials on youtube.
The thing to remember is, you can’t take your carbs quite as low as you can as a meat-eater. Your protein sources have a carb content. Meat and fish doesn’t. But it still works and you can still lose weight. Just watch, as always, your portion sizes.
Here are a few meal and snack ideas to get you started.
Fry-up with Halloumi
This can be the hardest meal for people and is easily skipped. Here are some ideas that will make it your favourite meal of the day.
- Two egg omelet with milled flax seeds, mushrooms and spinach. (Just mix a tsp of the flax seeds with the beaten egg, salt and pepper, while you are frying your mushrooms. Pour over your egg mixture and add your spinach leaves just at the end of cooking to wilt).
- Buckwheat pancakes with strawberries/blueberries/raspberries and mixed nuts. (Make your pancakes in the usual way – replacing buckwheat flour with ordinary flour. Add a few drops of vanilla essence and some flaxseeds).
Cook in the usual way. Dust with some stevia sweetener Choose your fruit. Sprinkle with some nuts. Lemon juice is fine if it doesn’t act as a trigger for you. Remember to have nuts and seeds, as it will keep you fuller for longer.
- Porridge with nuts seeds and fruit. (Put a cup of porridge oats in a pan with a cup of milk and a cup of water. Or if you like me don’t have milk, two cups of almond milk). When cooked add a tsp soaked chia seeds, golden linseeds, sprinkle of nuts and a few berries of your choice. This will definitely keep you full until lunch.
But what if you can’t last till lunch. We all know the biggest enemy for our migraines is getting too hungry. Our sugar levels drop, we eat something, and if it is the wrong thing, our sugar levels rise sharply and triggers a migraine.
Here are a few ideas that I use.
- A celery stalk, cut in half, filled with cream cheese and pushed together like a tube.
- 12 olives and a tsp of cream cheese.
- Handful of blueberries and tsp of cream cheese or pure nut butter (Good nut butter has no sugar added)
- Eggcup size portion of mixed nuts.
Lunch always consists of a variation of a salad for me. I use all kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, spring onions, baby corn, mange tout, and celery. As a vegetarian, if you like cheese, choose goat, mozzarella, cottage, or other soft cheeses less likely to act as a trigger. Boiled eggs and bean salads are great alternatives if cheese is off limits.
Lovely chickpea salad!
Dinner is the main meal of the day, and I find this one the easiest. There are great vegetarian options for Italian, Indian and Japanese cuisines. They are easy to cook and there are simply loads to try.
Here are a few I have tried and been successful with. What do I mean by success? I mean I had no migraine, kept my weight down and they tasted great too.
The recipes are too longwinded to list here. Just pop them in Pinterest/google and several will come up. That was what I did.
- Aubergine (Eggplant) bake.
- Hearty vegetable stew
- Vegetable curry
- Lentil curry
Cauliflower Tikka Masala
Be sure and google cauliflower rice to go with any of the above and keep your carbs low.
Get the gizmo for spiraling your courgette (Zucchini) for a great pasta replacement.
Quorn sausages are great tasting and don’t contain soya if that is one of your triggers. Be careful of all soya meat replacement for this reason. Only use sparingly.
What if you don’t like cheese, or it doesn’t agree with you? What if you’re lactose intolerant and want to keep your carbs down. Doesn’t that mean you’d need to be Vegan?
Shock! Horror! I hear you gasp. Surely it is impossible to be healthy on a low carb Vegan diet … isn’t it?
I’m going deeper. In my next post I’ll report how I get on.