Eating, Working, and Living with Chronic Migraine

Let food be a part of your migraine prevention plan

Let food be a part of your migraine prevention plan

The Lifestyle, Eating, and Performance (LEAP) program can help address your chronic migraine symptoms. LEAP is a specifically formulated eating plan that aids the healing of your body’s sensitivities and can help reduce (and, for some, even eliminate) headaches. The release of mediators in the body when your body is sensitive to certain foods causes pain and inflammation. LEAP is about becoming aware of what your body is most sensitive to and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly.

LEAP typically starts with a Mediator Release Test (MRT). MRT is an explicitly-formulated blood test that allows LEAP-certified registered dietitians to discover your trigger foods. MRT works through live cell analysis to identify what provokes the release of mediators (which, again, result in pain and inflammation) in your body. Reactions to food are identified on a scale of 0 to 2 and as non-reactive, moderately reactive, and reactive.

Using the LEAP program, my dietitian and I developed a unique eating plan best suited for managing my migraine symptoms. The MRT results identified my reactions to over 100 foods, beverages, seasonings, and chemicals. I was “reactive” and “moderately reactive” to 29 items. I immediately removed those items from my diet. Obviously, we eat more than 100 foods, beverages, seasonings, and chemicals. To address this, the LEAP program includes an elimination diet. My elimination diet started with only eating foods with a reaction score of less than 1. Seven days after that, I added in more foods. Four days after that, I added in more. It continued like this for 30 days. At 30 days, I added in foods that we not a part of the MRT. Even today, someone will ask me, “can you have jalapeños?” and I’ll say, “I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet…I’ll try it and let you know.” Eating plans are ever-evolving, and you have to create a plan that works best for you. For example, although my MRT results indicated I could eat certain foods, I personally decided not to add those foods to my plan because they are common migraine triggers.

I’ve felt in the past, and you may feel this now while reading this, that migraine-specific eating plans are tricky and convoluted. This is true, but they are still worth giving a try. Trust me, I was extremely skeptical in the beginning about doing ANOTHER elimination diet. There are a lot of books, articles, blog posts, etc. about trigger foods and elimination diets. I had tried some of those in the past, and they partially worked. I felt a little a better, had a few less headaches─I’m talking 20 a month instead of 30─but nothing helped as much as LEAP. LEAP helped me discover what triggered me, specifically. I don’t believe it’s a “cure-all.” I believe my eating plan is an integral part of my treatment plan. If I think about my treatment plan as pie, my eating plan is the flaky crust on the outer edges of the apple pie (my favorite) holding all the rest together.

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