Blood Sugar Management with Migraine

Why would you be concerned about managing your blood sugar levels with migraine???


Extreme highs and lows in blood sugar levels can be a migraine trigger for many people, making migraine management that much harder!

So where do you even start with balancing your blood sugar levels?


Let’s start with the basics– glucose (sugar) is your body’s preferred source of energy. Carbohydrates break down into glucose that your body will either use for immediate fuel or store for when you need it later (for instance, while you sleep).

While most foods will affect your blood sugar levels in some capacity, carbohydrates have the greatest impact while protein and fat change your blood sugar only minimally.


Complex Carbs (slow) VS. Simple Carbs (fast)

There are two different types of carbs: complex carbs and simple carbs.

Complex carbs are known as slow acting carbs, as they take time to digest and release glucose into your bloodstream at a steadier pace. Complex carbs are higher in fiber and certain minerals than simple carbs. Some examples of complex carbs are sweet potatoes, oats, beans, starchy vegetables, whole wheat bread, brown rice, etc,.

Simple carbs are referred to as fast acting carbs because they are composed of easy to digest sugars and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Foods like candy, fruit juice, white bread, white rice, and white pasta are simple carbs and do not contain fiber like complex carbs. Simple carbs provide a quick burst of energy and are great to eat right before the gym or if you’re feeling a little sluggish.

Simple carbs are commonly portrayed as ‘bad’ foods, but guess what – whether simple or complex, both types are going to increase blood sugar levels (just at different rates)!


The secret is that managing your blood sugar levels is not about removing simple carbs, but about ADDING certain foods to your diet!

Crazy right??? Diet culture has pushed restriction and removing foods from your diet as the way to go, but with blood sugar management what you can ADD is super important!

If you’re used to eating simple carbs, try ADDING complex carbs and see how you like them!

You can also ADD protein and fat to any carb you eat (simple or complex) to help slow down digestion, slow the release of glucose into your bloodstream, and will help keep you satisfied and full throughout the day. Plus chances are you’re adding a bunch of nutrients into your diet that you normally wouldn’t get!

Eating balanced snacks and meals can help improve brain fog, energy levels, and can help raise your migraine threshold.


Building a Blood Sugar Friendly Meal or Snack with Migraine:

So how do you eat to support your blood sugar levels???

Meals: Focus on building your plate with 1/2 fruits and veggies, 1/4 of your plate protein, 1/4 of your plate with carbs or starchy vegetables, and adding a healthy fat source!

This can look like the meal below, or even a burger on a whole grain bun with cheese, extra veggies, and a side of fruit!

While eating only a bowl of mashed potatoes or rice for dinner sounds delicious, this won’t keep you full for long and can increase blood sugar levels more rapidly than eating a balanced meal.

Snacks: To make a snack a little more migraine friendly, try adding either a protein or a fat to a carb. This can look like the snacks below, or eating a banana with peanut butter, a rice cake with some chocolate hummus and berries (yum!), or a few turkey roll ups with some cheese and crackers!


The moral of the story with balancing blood sugar levels for migraine is that it is more about what you can to your meals and snacks, rather than what you can take away or not eat!

Focusing on incorporating more balanced meals and snacks can help increase energy levels and satiety between meals, can help improve healthy hormones, and can most importantly increase your migraine threshold!


I want to hear from you – are you having a difficult time eating balanced meals? Do you have suspicions that your blood sugar levels maybe impacting your unmanageable migraine? 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

Published by Kathryn Darsillo, B.S Nutrition & Dietetics, Dietetic Intern

Kathryn Darsillo, is currently a Dietetic Intern with Lenoir-Rhyne University and has a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics in addition to having an Associates Certificate of Completion in Culinary Arts, and is also a fellow migraineur!

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