Do you find yourself with intense cravings right before a migraine episode???
Food can sometimes feel like the center of migraine; cravings can signal the arrival of a migraine episode, certain foods can trigger an episode for some people, and other times food can give you the comfort that you need while in pain. Figuring out what these food cravings may mean can feel like solving a mathematical equation- but what I can guarantee you is that your body is smarter than you think with migraine, so tune in!
So you maybe wondering why you always find yourself reaching for a big bag of salty chips, an ice cold soda, or a chocolate bar right before a migraine episode starts brewing???
Food Cravings as a Warning Signal
Food cravings can be a warning sign during the prodrome phase of a migraine episode. The prodrome phase marks the beginning of a migraine attack and can last for several hours to a few days.
The symptoms during a prodrome phase vary from person to person, but migraineurs can experience changes in mood, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, insomnia, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, muscle stiffness, and…. food cravings!
When you find yourself with a yearning for your local bakery’s cupcakes and have some of those physical symptoms, this is a sign that you maybe heading into the prodrome phase.
Recognizing this phase can help identify, treat, or possibly prevent a migraine episode before it happens. Keeping a migraine journal can help identify foods that you crave before a possible attack to help you notice a trend in symptoms during the prodrome phase.
During this time take care of yourself! Take abortive medication/supplements as prescribed, minimize and avoid triggers if possible, and aim for quality rest.
Food Cravings as Nutrient Deficiencies in Disguise
To set the tone- this is a reminder that all foods are neutral. One food isn’t ‘better’ or ‘worse’ for you, some foods are just more nutrient dense than others- but this doesn’t mean these foods are ‘junk’ or ‘bad’!
So if you find yourself craving:
Chocolate: This may mean your body is craving some magnesium! 400-500 mg of magnesium daily can be found to help lower migraine severity and decrease migraine episodes. Dark chocolate contains 50 mg of magnesium per serving- and is undeniably one of the most delicious ways to get some magnesium in- why wouldn’t you be reaching for it right before an episode??
You can either honor this craving and enjoy some chocolate if it agrees with you, or enjoy some pumpkin seeds (magnesium powerhouse!), spinach, tofu, cashews, or some avocado!
Salty Foods (chips, pretzels, fries, etc.,): This may mean your body wants some electrolytes for hydration! Not only do potato chips have that amazing crunch- they also have about 4% of your daily sodium needs and 8% of your daily potassium needs!
If you are looking for another source of electrolytes- opt for an electrolyte drink! Recipe HERE.
Sweets/Carbs: Do you NEED a piece of bread right before a migraine episode hits?? Your body maybe in need of some energy! Foods like breads, sandwiches, sweets, pizza… all breakdown into sugar in the body, which is your body’s preferred source of energy. If you find yourself craving carbs right before a migraine episode hits- you may just need a balanced meal!
Reminder that you can always balance desserts or carb heavy foods by pairing it with a fat and protein.
Food as Comfort
So now that you’re a pro at deciphering food cravings, let’s talk some basic human needs.
If you are feeling uncomftable feelings like pain or anxiety, your body is going to do what it can to correct that for you. Sometimes this means craving foods that bring you comfort!
When I am in the midst of a migraine episode, you won’t find me reaching for a salad! I’m going to want food that is easy, quick, and that brings me comfort.
Remember sweet friends, depriving yourself of the foods you love is not fair to you- OR your body. While I do encourage finding other coping tools to help you find comfort with migraine, using food as support isn’t something that’s entirely bad. It’s okay to find enjoyment from food!
I want to hear from you – are you having a difficult time deciphering messages from your body? Have you tried what feels like everything to tune into your body but still can’t figure it out? Have you tried talking to your doctor about your concerns? Let me know in the comments or join the conversation with a community of fellow migraineurs on Instagram HERE.
Want more support managing migraine using a gentle, holistic approach? Click HERE to learn more about how I can help!
Reviewed by Kelli Yates, RD, LD, CLT