It is well known that blood sugar levels should be kept stable throughout the day and that “peaks and troughs” in the levels can cause problems and can be a trigger for migraine.
So, how do you attain this goal?
You have to aim for the “slow release” carbohydrates and those other foods which have a low glycaemic index (or low GI), which means they release energy slowly. Foods which have a low GI include certain types of fruit and vegetables,wholegrain foods, pulses, lean meat, yogurt and milk.
There are foods which have a high glycaemic index (high GI), which give a quick energy boost but are used up almost immediately and actually create the peaks and troughs which can then trigger migraine. Foods in this high GI category are sugary foods, chips, sweetened breakfast cereals, white bread and baked potatoes.
Meals and snacks should strike a balance between healthy foods and foods for pleasure. A good balance is approximately 80% for maintaining health and 20% for pleasure. Some purists would insist that 100% of food intake should be towards maintaining health but, if this approach were adopted, choosing, preparing and eating food could become either a chore or an obsession!
Keeping those levels stable:
- Always eat breakfast - even if it is just a piece of fruit and an oatcake.
- Aim to eat little (but well balanced) and often, rather than one or two large meals a day. If you need to eat between meals, snack on healthy foods in the low GI category (nuts and dried fruit, oatcakes and hummus or plain bio yoghurt with nuts and seeds).
- Mix carbohydrate with protein and / or fat to increase the slow release element, e.g. wholemeal toast and peanut butter is better than white bread and jam.
- If you feel like chocolate or biscuits, try a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts and raisins instead.
Remember that you are actually meant to enjoy eating. Too much concern about eating the “right” things and not eating the “wrong” things can strip out the enjoyment factor and lead to poor nutrition and under-nutrition, so don’t deny yourself those little pleasures. If your intake is excessive, then learn to moderate the cravings and educate your palate. It will happen slowly and you’ll feel better for it!