Elimination Diets – Guide to Migraine Diets

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Hoping to find a diet pattern that alleviates your migraine? Or looking to identify which particular foods trigger your attacks?

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), the Migraine Nutritionist will review your top requested diets and discuss whether the diet can be helpful for migraine.

Let’s jump into it and learn about elimination diets!

What is an Elimination Diet?

An elimination diet is a process used to identify food sensitivities and exclude any foods that cause negative reactions.

Why follow an Elimination Diet?

People with chronic illnesses like migraine, IBS, or fibromyalgia are most likely to have food sensitivities. Some symptoms of food sensitivity reactions include:

  • Headaches or migraine attacks
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Acne, eczema, or dermatitis
  • Joint pain

[Read more at “Are Food Sensitivities Causing Your Migraine Attacks?”]

Using an elimination diet to identify food sensitivities can be an effective way to improve your symptoms, including having less frequent migraine attacks.

Rules/Guidelines

To follow this diet plan, you first undergo a temporary “elimination” phase where your food choices are restricted. This typically lasts at least 2 weeks, but may be longer.

Following the elimination phase, you begin the “reintroduction” phase, where potentially reactive foods are tested.

Any foods tested in the reintroduction phase that do cause negative reactions are removed from the diet indefinitely.

step 1 and 2 of elimination diet phases (elimination and reintroduction)

Types of Elimination Diets

There are several types of elimination diets. Each serves a different purpose and has slightly different rules (typically by eliminating different types of foods).

LEAP Program

The LEAP Program utilizes a food sensitivity blood test, the Mediator Release Test (MRT), to identify potential food triggers. Based on your unique results, there is a diet plan for both the elimination and reintroduction phase, starting with your safest foods.

[Read more about using the LEAP Program to identify food triggers]

Heal Your Headache

Created by Dr. David Buchholz, this popular diet avoids commonly reported migraine food triggers, including caffeine, chocolate, processed meats, and more.

Low-FODMAP

“FODMAP” stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates that are more difficult to digest, possibly causing uncomfortable digestive symptoms.

Whole30

For 30 days in this fad elimination diet, you will “reset” by eliminating all sugars, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy. 

Generalized Elimination Diet

Most general elimination diets focus on a similar set of foods, including: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and added sugar.

Will an Elimination Diet improve migraine?

Unlike other diet strategies, an elimination diet is entirely individualized. Even if you follow a template, such as Heal Your Headache, the reintroduction phase will have results unique to YOU.

The process of an elimination diet can allow you to identify food sensitivities and be an effective way to improve your symptoms, including having less frequent migraine attacks.

Risks & Considerations

While an elimination diet can be an effective strategy to improve your migraine, this diet plan may not be for everyone.

  • Undergoing an elimination diet can be extremely difficult on your own. It is no easy feat to eliminate common diet staples, even for a short period of time. It is best to have guidance from a professional to plan for the meticulous details of this process.
  • The strict rules around this diet plan and restricted “elimination” phase can be dangerous, especially for people with a history of disordered eating.
  • It’s important to remember that any food may be a potential trigger. Following a popular elimination diet template, such as Heal Your Headache, puts you at risk of keeping food triggers in your diet.

[Learn how you can assure that you’re eliminating YOUR potential triggers]

  • A common mistake I see is failing to complete the “reintroduction” phase. No elimination diet should last forever! While it’s normal to become fearful of the untested foods, it’s still important to reintroduce as many of them as possible to have a varied healthy diet.

Final Thoughts

You may be considering following an elimination diet to improve your migraine.

The diet consists of two steps, elimination and reintroduction, which are followed to identify and avoid potentially reactive foods.

It may improve migraine by effectively identifying food triggers, but there are many risks and considerations. The diet plan may be overly meticulous to follow on your own, and may not be appropriate at all for people with a history of disordered eating patterns.

The best elimination diet for you is a personalized one that includes the support of a nutrition professional who understands migraine. For support, tap the link below for a free consultation with the Migraine Nutritionist.

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