Did you know that, according to the Migraine Research Foundation, about 14 million people experience headaches almost daily? And almost 20 percent of women and 6 percent of men suffer from migraine headaches?
It’s a common problem and one that for many is part of their daily lives. Unfortunately, for many of these people an underlying food allergy may be the cause. Simply eliminating the food from their diet can change their lives forever.
If you suffer from migraines or chronic headaches, the next step to identify whether a food is causing them, and if so try a food elimination diet.
What is An Elimination Diet?
An elimination diet essentially eliminates all potential allergens from your diet. If you suspect that gluten is the issue then you can simply eliminate all gluten. However, if you’re unsure, you might want to eliminate common allergens including:
When you’re on an elimination diet there are a few common questions. The first question is often, “What can I eat?” You can eat a lot! You might be surprised how many wonderful foods don’t contain gluten or dairy. You can eat meat, veggies, fruits and gluten-free grains. You can enjoy many different types of foods, from stir fry with gluten-free soy sauce to meatloaf, steaks, chicken and more. You may have to make adjustments to your diet, but you shouldn’t feel deprived.
How long do I have to eliminate suspicious foods is another common question. The answer is 11 to 23 days. On average, it takes your body around 21 days to stop producing the antibodies. It is then safe to test the suspicious food and evaluate your body’s reaction.
What does a test entail? Once the suspicious food (gluten, for example) has been completely out of your system for 21 days, you can try a small amount of gluten. You might have, for example, half a bagel or a piece of toast.
What to Expect
When you go on an elimination diet you might experience some “withdrawal” type symptoms. You may have headaches or low energy. This is normal for some people and it shouldn’t last more than a few days. Often, this is more of a sugar withdrawal than a gluten withdrawal. Think about the foods that contain gluten. They’re often starchy and sugary. You can help alleviate these symptoms by enjoying foods that are high in good fats like avocados and coconut milk.
When you try a test food, you may experience upset stomach, skin breakouts, and yes, you might experience a headache. That’s your answer that the food causes problems for you. If you feel fine, you might try a little more of the food the next day. Keep a food journal while you’re on the diet and as you’re adding suspicious foods back into your diet. It can help you track your symptoms and how you’re feeling along the way.
If you’re interested in cleansing your system or testing your body for food allergies through an elimination diet program, I run a seasonal 11-day cleanse that eliminates gluten, dairy, soy and cashews then re-introduces these common irritants over days 12-15. Click here to learn more about my seasonal cleanse here.