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When it comes to managing and preventing migraine preventative medication can help with the frequency and intensity of attacks, but it doesn’t end there, and good well-balanced nutrition also plays a huge role. There are many diets out there that can improve health and some types of diets can help improve migraine symptoms while others are not good and can worsen symptoms. Fasting is not something I would typically recommend for people who live with migraine because food is medicine, and our bodies require fuel to stay well and prevent attacks. Recently I tried intermittent fasting because my bowel health was going in a downward spiral, and I heard that fasting for short periods of time can help improve gut health. What is intermittent fasting? People often believe that intermittent fasting is a starvation diet and that you should not do it because it’s bad for your health but that is only true when you use it as an excuse to cut calories and skip meals. When you intermittent fast you will eat less because there is a smaller eating window but it’s not a starvation diet and you should never be fasting long enough that your body would go into starvation mode. As a disabled person who lives with migraine, I am also interested to try new diets that can improve my overall health but before I try anything I am always thinking about how it will affect my migraine pain because if it worsens pain it’s not worth it. In this post, I am going to talk how my experience with intermittent fasting and how I prevent migraine while I am fasting.
Choose the right plan for you- There are many different fasting plans that you try and some plans require longer fasting periods and it all depends on what your goals are. If you live with migraine I would not recommend you choose a twenty-hour fast because that is pretty much going all day without eating which would be triggering for most people. I chose the easiest and most common fasting plan and for the most part, I am fasting sixteen hours a day with an eight hour eating window which seems like it would be a really long time but it’s not because a majority of my fast I am sleeping and the only thing that has changed is my breakfast is a little bit later than it normally would be. Pick a plan that works for you because fasting too long can be just as bad as eating the wrong types of foods. Listen to your body and be flexible with it and if you are going out with friends or having a bad pain day it’s okay to skip a day of fasting but sometimes it may be necessary.
Eat enough during your non-fasting period- Most people use intermittent fasting for weight loss and it is a proven benefit but a common mistake people make while fasting is not eating enough or eating too much of the wrong kinds of food. When you are fasting and wanting to prevent migraine at the same time it’s so important that you are eating enough calories or that will not happen and you could end up wrecking your goals Fasting can be a little more tricky when you live with migraine because our bodies require well-balanced nutrition to prevent attacks and the most important thing you can do for yourself is to make sure that you are eating enough during your non-fasting period because if you are trying too hard to cut calories when your not fasting you might not be getting enough calories which is harmful for your health and can be a trigger for migraine.
Stay hydrated– When you are fasting it is recommended that you do not consume anything with calories because technically if you are consuming anything more than fifty calories it’s not a true fast. If you are drinking a soda during your fast you are not doing a true fast because soda often has as many calories as a small meal. During your fast, you are not supposed to eat but there are no rules against consuming beverages like water, but it is in fact recommended that you keep hydrating yourself. In the morning before my fasting ends, I have my black coffee and some water because both of those things are zero calories and you can consume as many zero calories foods as you would like without breaking your fast.
Do not exercise while fasting- Doctors often recommend exercise for people who live with migraine because it helps lessen the frequency and intensity of attacks. When doctors recommend exercise often they are assuming that you have fueled your body prior to your workout which you won’t be doing during a fast. Some people say that fasted exercise is helpful for people trying to lose weight or build muscle but I would not recommend exercising without food if you live with pain. I have exercised while practicing intermittent fasting but you will never see me do a workout if I have not fueled my body first because when your body doesn’t have fuel and you go into do a hardcore workout it can instantly trigger you.
Supplement if necessary– When you are fasting sometimes people do not get enough nutrients because you are not eating as much and have a smaller window to eat but if you feel like you’re not getting enough nutrients it can never hurt to supplement. Before I started fasting my vitamins with the exception of my probiotic was not a priority for me but now it is since I am eating less and I want to make sure that I am getting everything my body needs. I don’t typically take my vitamins before my eating window opens up because vitamins often are better absorbed with food.
There are many reasons why someone may choose to start fasting and the most common reason is weight loss but fasting is not only good for weight loss and for some it can help improve gut health. Some people believe that all restrictive diets are bad and is an example of diet culture which I do believe is mostly true if you are doing it because someone told you carbs are bad but for some people, it can be a form of self-care. I never thought that intermittent fasting would improve my gut health because I always thought that you needed to eat more often for good health but that isn’t necessarily true and sometimes your body does need a little break from food for better health. As a disabled person I don’t know how long I will be able to practice intermittent fasting because it’s not unusual for me to be doing something for a while and out of nowhere it stops working but as of right now I have no reason to stop because it has helped me have better bowel movements which was a struggle before I started. Intermittent fasting has worked great for me but it’s not going to be safe for everyone and people who are pregnant or struggle with eating disorders should not consider any type of fasting diet. Have you tried intermittent fasting for better gut health and what was your experience?
Reminder: *This is my experience with fasting while living with migraine, but I am not a doctor, and it should be used for informational and educational use only. It is not a substitute for individual medical care or advice, and you should always seek the advice from your physician before making major changes to your diet*.
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