Saturday, April 7, 2007

Foods to Avoid for the Migraine Sufferer

Here is the "Diet for the Headache Patient" that I received from my doctor. I'll also try to post my "Foods I Can Eat List" for easy reference to the ingredients you'll find in my recipes.

Foods to Avoid:
Beverages - Alcoholic (wine, beer, ale, liquor), Buttermilk, Chocolate Milk. Caffeine sources to be limited to 2 cups daily including coffee, tea and sodas. Avoid all alcoholic beverages if possible. If you must drink, no more than two normal-sized drinks. Suggested drinks: Haute Sauterne, Riesling wine, Seagram's VO, Cutty Sark, vodka.

Dairy Products - Aged and processed cheese including cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano, brick, Brie, Camembert, Gouda, Gruyere, Emmentaler, Stilton, Provolone, Roquefort, bleu, and cheese-containing foods (pizza, mac & cheese, chips, etc), and sour cream. Yogurt can be eaten in 1/2 cup portions or less.

Meat & Meat Substitutes - Aged, canned, cured or processed meats, those containing nitrates or nitrites, commercial meat extracts, pickled or dried herring, chicken livers, sausage, salami, pepperoni, bologna, frankfurters, pates, peanuts and peanut butter, marinated meats, any prepared with meat tenderizers, soy sauce or yeast extracts

Bread and Bread Substitutes - Homemade yeast breads, fresh coffee cake, doughnuts, yeast and yeast extracts, sourdough breads, breads and crackers containing cheese, any containing chocolate or nuts

Fruits - Canned figs, raisins, papaya, passion fruit, avocado, red plum. Citrus fruits limited to 1/2 cup serving per day. 1/2 banana allowed per day.

Vegetables - Italian broad beans, Fava beans, Lima beans, navy beans, pea pods, sauerkraut, onions (except for flavoring)

Desserts - Any with chocolate or yeast raised desserts

Miscellaneous - Brewer's yeast, chocolate, soy sauce, monosodium glutamate, meat tenderizers, papaya products, Accent, Lawry's and other seasoned salts, soup cubes, canned soups, frozen TV dinners, some snack items and instant foods, autolyzed and hydrolyzed proteins and/or extracts. Read all labels. White vinegar and commercial salad dressings can be used in small amounts.

Friday, April 6, 2007

On The Menu

Here is a list of some of the foods I plan to feature in upcoming posts...

Baking: biscuits, breads, desserts, muffins
Breakfast: french toast casserole, pancakes, quiche
Fish: baked tilapia, grilled salmon
Meats: sausage, venison tenderloin
Pasta: lasagna, sausage penne & spinach with cheese
Poultry: cabbage "lasagna", chicken fried rice, creamed chicken over biscuits, risotto-style chicken with spinach, stir fry
Salsas: black bean & corn salsa; tomato & cilantro salsa
Soups: chicken stock, black bean, minestrone, sweet potato & butternut squash
Squash: acorn, butternut, spaghetti
Starches: quinoa, rice - baked, brown, wild, pilaf
Vegetables: sauteed spinach

And a start on a few brands I use:
Friendship brand Cottage Cheese
Gaerlick Farms Heavy Cream
Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice Pasta
Whole Foods Organic Corn Tortillas

Migraine-Friendly/Gluten-Free Cooking

Ever since I was three years old, I can clearly recall dizzy spells accompanied by nausea after eating and on overcast days. As a child and teenager, my symptoms usually became especially difficult during the early fall. Although I mentioned this to doctors at annual physicals, no one had an explanation. Symptoms increased over time until I was 27. It was the summer before I got married, and it seemed like no matter what I ate, I got sick.

Finally, at the urging of a good friend, I saw a neurologist. Diagnosis: migraines. The doc sent me home with a Foods To Avoid list which included, among other things, caffeine, chocolate, cheese, dried fruit, peanuts, and yeast. I think I was 15 when I last consumed caffeine on a regular basis. And chocolate went when I was 25. I immediately removed the rest of those items from my diet and began to see improvement. Over time, I found other things that my system couldn't handle - preservatives, additives, even "natural" products (like xantham, guar and carob bean gums along with carageenan and natural flavors). Probably the biggest improvement came when I finally stopped eating sugar and sugar-substitutes.

My husband came into our marriage with his own set of food intolerances/allergies. Having struggled with asthma since childhood, he hadn't really considered that a change in diet might improve his symptoms. I can't remember when, but in the middle of a conversation with some friends, he mentioned having been tested for allergies. Wheat had come up positive. No wonder he was so miserable - I had been baking bread for him and making muffins and desserts... As I started reading on the subject, I wondered if I should just stop using anything with gluten in our home. Thus began a new world of trial and error in the kitchen!

Now the reality is that Ben and I love food - GOOD food - delicious flavors and tempting textures. But I can no longer just follow a recipe. Most call for a host of ingredients that don't agree with one or both of us. So I've taken to adapting or concocting. And my husband has asked me for a long time to share my "recipes" with others. The time has finally come.

In days to come, I hope to share ideas and recipes along with the brands and stores where I find products that I can enjoy. Unfortunately, I have to read labels EVERY TIME I grocery shop. Sometimes manufacturers change their recipes but don't make it obvious except on the ingredients list. So what I might note this month as "migraine-friendly" may become "unfriendly" next month. I'll try to post any changes as soon as I become aware of them.

So here's to enjoyable eating in spite of a limited diet!