It’s the most wonderful time of year. Holiday music, good food, twinkling lights and time with close friends and family make the holidays possibly one of our most treasured times of life. However, having a migraine will certainly put a damper on all of that. I’ve written down some of my best tips for avoiding a migraine during the holidays so you can hopefully spend this time doing the things you love most.
Blood sugar regulation is one of THE most important things during the holidays. Even the most disciplined people have a hard time avoiding sweets during this time of year, so if you are going to have sweets, have them in conjunction WITH fat or protein. This helps avoid a blood sugar spike.
A blood sugar spike causes inflammation, and inflammation increases the chance of a migraine. Eat 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day instead of a couple of large meals. For example, if the big holiday dinner is planned for dinner time, don’t wait to eat all day and gorge during that one meal. Eat smaller meals throughout the day, then a small snack 1-2 hours before dinner.
I always recommend that my patients limit sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy and alcohol and increase their plant intake, as a rule. Flooding your body with plants is one of THE best things you can do for your body. Plants help your body to detoxify itself from the exposure to new holiday foods. Plants include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs
Stay VERY hydrated. Many of you have changed geographical areas to be with family. Some of you are in dryer areas, have gone through time changes and your body clock will be off. In general, travel tends to dehydrate you and increase stress. Combat this by drinking a ton of water to decrease inflammation and keep things regulated.
Don’t let ONE cheat meal, turn into a cheat WEEK… But at the same don’t stress over eating 1 wrong thing. The stress can sometimes be worse for triggering a migraine than the thing you actually ate!
Speaking of stress, be sure to take YOU time no matter what is going on. Find quiet time for yourself, meditate, take a nap, lay down in a quiet room for 15-20 mins, schedule a massage, go for a walk alone… Do as many of these as many times a day you think you need them. Ironically, taking enough short breaks from family will allow you to spend the most time with them.
I recommend that migraine patients avoid alcohol altogether anytime of the year. But if you do decide to partake, for every 1 alcoholic beverage, drink 2 cups of water to rehydrate your body properly. Be aware of drinks that are both sugary AND alcoholic… These are dark horses of migraine triggers. Avoiding this double whammy may help you avoid a migraine.
Many of us are in a different time zone than where we live, we are staying up late talking to family, and our body clocks are all over the place. It is very important to sleep EXTRA. The most ideal night’s sleep is from 10 PM - 7 AM. (Some say that for every hour you go to bed before midnight, it is equal to 2 hours of sleep after midnight). Going to bed after 10 PM should be strictly avoided. Listen to your body and take naps throughout the day. If you’re tired, you’re tired for a reason. Go to bed!
Avoid any known triggers. These are different for everyone, but my migraine patients have reported lights and sounds, looking at flashing Christmas lights, going to plays/shows, and being around strong smells. There are plenty of possible triggers, but if you remember these tips you will have a much better chance of avoiding a migraine.
If this seems overwhelming, start by focusing on one or two of these tips. The more you can do, the less your chances will be of having a migraine. I hope these simple tips help make this holiday season much more enjoyable for you and your family!Happy Holidays,