If you suffer from regular headaches, a few changes to your daily diet can make all the difference. Nutritional therapist, Kerry Torrens explains...
Around 10 million people in the UK suffer from some sort of headache. For one of my clients, a working mum, it had been a long-standing problem. Her GP diagnosed 'tension headaches', and she was keen to find an alternative to over-the-counter painkillers.
She skipped breakfast to squeeze in the school run, and grabbed snacks rather than eating at set times. Her diet lacked magnesium (low levels of this mineral are associated with tension headaches) and she often didn't sleep well.
- Eat breakfast within an hour of waking - wholegrain cereal with fruit, granary toast with sugar-free nut butter, or eggs with spinach or watercress - and eat every 3-4 hours to stabilise blood sugar levels.
- Base meals and snacks on low-GI carbs such as rye crackers, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta or basmati rice, combined with lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish and low-fat dairy.
- Eat magnesium-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and peas.
- Snack before bed to help improve sleep - good choices include porridge, oatcakes topped with low-fat cream cheese, a plain yogurt with nuts and sliced banana.
Setting her alarm 10 minutes earlier gave my client time to have breakfast; she then started to build in the other changes. Within three months she reported fewer headaches with less severe symptoms.
Baked dippy eggs
Oven-baked Thai chicken rice
Wholewheat pasta with broccoli & almonds
Chicken & vegetable stew with wholemeal couscous
Open sandwiches - smoked salmon & avocado on rye
If you've been diagnosed with migraines, rather than tension headaches, you might be interested to read our interview with neurology expert Dr Peter Goadsby regarding the relationship between food and migraines.
This article was published on 11th June 2015.
A registered Nutritional Therapist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).
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