Headaches plague some of us daily….I found a way to kick them to the curb.
I’m talking almost 6 and a half years ago now – I would wake up with a headache and go to sleep with a headache. It was just the intensity that varied and it was the norm for me. Most days I had little to no energy or enthusiasm for anything. I had to drag myself out of bed and force myself through the day. It was the hardest year of my life for other reasons too. Maybe because of that I didn’t ever question what I was eating & I was eating less healthily than ever before.
I put up with feeling that way for about another year. Wow! Until one day I realised I shouldn’t be feeling so BAD all the time. It’s wasn’t normal. And it was not necessary.
I remembered the often quoted words that “you are what you eat”. And I decided to take them to heart, just for experimental purposes to see if what I was eating and drinking might be playing a part in how I was feeling.
My go to was to cut out coffee. I already had a suspicion that my headaches only got worse when I drank coffee – which was a once daily mid morning ritual for me at the time. Amazingly, I did feel a little better, my headaches didn’t worsen at mid morning like they had done before.
I kept going…Thinking it was most likely the caffeine that didn’t agree with me and so I cut out tea as well (I had woken up to a hot cup of tea with milk for as long as I could remember). After a few days of being caffeine free I was feeling much better! I woke up in the morning with a clear head and a little bit more energy. Relief!!
Inspired to keep going…
I then cut out foods that might possibly be affecting me ONE by ONE to see how I felt. More importantly perhaps, I cut them out one at a time for about two weeks, and then had some of the food that I had cut out to see if it had adverse effects. If I started to feel bad – be it a headache or a bloated stomach, indigestion or exhaustion – I would cut that food out of my diet for good. If it didn’t make me feel bad, I added it back into my diet.
I payed attention to how my body was reacting. I started to learn what was affecting me adversely and what was making me feel GOOD – energised and healthy.
Over the following weeks I cut out the following foods and this is what I found:
Processed bread – it gave me bloating and indigestion. I now eat a gluten, preservative, sugar and salt free bread which I love. I can eat fresh baked goods which I make myself or at coffee shops or bakeries – which makes me think that it’s probably the preservatives in processed breads that don’t agree with me.
Pasta – Ever since I was little I found it hard to digest pasta, it’s still not a goodie for me and I don’t touch it.
Dairy products – I found cutting out all dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt) made a vast improvement to my headaches. I have since realised that I can have plain Greek yoghurt and I have yoghurt every day now.
Raw oats – They also seemed to contribute to my headaches. I have discovered recently that I can have oats if they are well cooked. So I have oatmeal every now and then, or I make granola or my gran’s original golden tea crunchies, in moderation cooked oats don’t affect me.
Sugar – A huge culprit. I cut out sugar totally for a while. I have since found that if I have sugar in moderation it’s ok, but I don’t indulge on a regular basis. I now try to make a lot of my sweet treats sugar free (like my orange & strawberry breakfast muffins) and I find I like these options a lot more – while I’m eating them and because of how they make me feel afterwards.
Red Meat – Over the last few years I have been eating less and less meat. I will have some if I really feel like it, but I find I feel better if I keep red meat to a minimum.
It may seem like a long drawn out process, but I know I had some idea of what foods affected me in a less than great way, I just didn’t really take the time to listen to what my body was telling me. Take it from me, it’s well worth the time and effort spent to get to the bottom of why you are not feeling 100% WELL. And for me, it didn’t cost a cent.
Once I wasn’t constantly suffering from headaches and started to feel better in general, I was inspired to get back into exercising and looking after myself on the whole. I felt less and less like eating the unhealthy foods because they lost their appeal when I realised how unwell they were making me.
A healthy cycle developed when I ate well – I felt well, so I wanted to keep eating well to keep feeling well. And I wanted to exercise because that made me feel good too and so it kept going until I had a healthy lifestyle on the whole.
I find I enjoy food so much more now that I know what I’m eating is going to be nourishing and energising and I don’t have to deal with the headaches and feeling tired all the time.
The following foods are what I eat on a regular basis that keep me feeling great:
Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – A daily staple in my diet, I can’t get enough. Most of my baking involves a fruit or two of some kind. I just think fruit is amazing and all the colours and flavours are inspiring. Don’t forget to eat your greens! While veggies are not quite as exciting or pretty as fruit, they are just as if not more important to your wellbeing and I know I just don’t feel as good when I don’t get my veggie fix for the day.
Legumes – I try to eat a lentil or chickpea dish twice a week, they are said to be mood boosters as well as being packed with goodness. Try my lentil, sweet potato & tomato stew.
Plain Greek Yoghurt – A couple of months ago I added this back into my diet, I feel fuller for longer when I add some plain Greek yoghurt to my breakfast. Like with my pawpaw strawberry & peanut butter breakfast smoothie – I’m not feeling faint by 10:30am when I start my day with one of these.
Peanut Butter – I’m talking about the sugar & salt free version. I grew up on Willards peanut butter, it’s seriously delicious, in my book there was never going to be another peanut butter in my life. Until I tried a sugar & salt free peanut butter recently and I was hooked. It’s really just as delicious and there are no nasty additives in there so it’s totally healthy, lots of protein!
Eggs – At one point I stopped eating eggs, I think it was because if they’re a little under done I tend to feel a bit queazy. But hard boiled eggs or well cooked scramble has become a favourite of mine and I probably eat eggs every second day now.
Dates – Dates are the answer to baking sugar free! I absolutely love dates, their natural sweetness is intense enough that you can add them to any sweet treat and not have to add a grain of sugar.
Herbal Teas – I drink a lot of herbal infusions now. And I can drink green tea, it makes me feel great, I have one or two cups a day. I also find Earl Grey a good option, I keep it to one cup a day.
Water – I have always been a big water drinker. I have a big glass of water next to me and I just keep drinking throughout the day. When I go out I make sure I have a big bottle of water with me so I stay hydrated. If you get tired of plain water and want another alternative take a look at my strawberry lemonade (sugar free), and my traditional homemade lemonade (sugar free).
(Updated Note) CBD Oil – Is something I would love to try soon for the occasional headache that I may get, and as a sleep aid. My husband’s aunt swears by it for aches and pains, energy and an overall feeling of wellness! She’s 82 and could hardly get out of bed a year ago. She started taking CBD regularly with her breakfast and now you can’t keep her out of her garden, she’s really busy and feels wonderful. Check out CFAH.org for more helpful information.
Everyone is different so by no means is this a “how to guide”, this is just my personal experience and how I realised which foods to cut out in order to feel great every day, get my energy up and my enthusiasm for life back.
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I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email if you have any questions.