10 Tips to Avoid a Migraine at Christmas
If you are prone to migraine headaches then Christmas can be a difficult time. Try to remember these easy tips to avoid suffering this year.
1. Drink a pint of water on waking – dehydration is a big trigger for migraines in everyone who is susceptible. When you’re busy on Christmas Day it can be difficult to remember to drink enough water. Drinking a pint of water on waking will allow you to start the day as you mean to go on.
2. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids during the day – make a mental note to drink plenty of fluids throughout the entire day. This could be sparkling water, diluted fruit juices, decaf tea & coffee or plain tap water.
3. Limit alcoholic drinks – alcohol promotes dehydration and can also be a trigger in its own right. Try to space out your alcoholic drinks by drinking non-alcoholic drinks in between each alcoholic glass. Red and white wine are the most frequently reported trigger drinks so avoid these if you know that they are likely to give you a headache. Be wary of flavoured ciders, tonic water and alcopops as they often contain artificial sweeteners which can trigger migraines in some people.
4. Set Christmas lights to static mode – many migraine sufferers are sensitive to flashing or bright lights. If you are hosting Christmas then set your lights to static, or ask your hosts to do this for you.
5. Try not to binge on sugary snacks – peaks and troughs in your blood sugar levels can trigger migraines. Although it is tempting at Christmas, try not to gorge on chocolates, sweets and other high sugar food items.
6. Eat regular protein and carb snacks – try and stick to low glycaemic index foods. This will also help to avoid fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. Nuts, apples, grapes, oranges, hummus, wholewheat bread and porridge are all examples of low GI foods. On Christmas day, roasted nuts and twiglets are a better choice of festive snack than sweets and chocolates.
7. Remove artificial scents and house sprays – lots of people love mulled wine scented plug ins and candles over the festive period, but these can trigger a migraine in susceptible people. Natural scents are much safer and more pleasant all round. Cinnamon sticks, pomanders (oranges studded with cloves) and the smells of roasting turkey are much safer if you are prone to headaches.
8. Don’t drink more caffeine than usual – it can be easy to veer from your routine over the Christmas period, and this disruption to routine can be enough to trigger a migraine. You may find you drink more tea and coffee when you have guests around. Make sure you stock up on decaf and take decaf options with you if you are going to someone else’s house.
9. Read your labels – Christmas is a time when you may well eat food and drinks that you wouldn’t normally. If you can, try to read the labels on any suspect items. The unknowing consumption of sweeteners, artificial preservatives and/or other triggers can catch you out more easily over the holidays.
10. Don’t ignore your instincts – most importantly, listen to your body. If you wake up feeling headachey, then be sensible during the day. Don’t through caution to the wind, take your tablets and wash them down with a glass or two of Bucks Fizz and a handful of Quality Street.
Enjoy your Christmas, but remember to treat yourself and your body with respect. You’ll be glad of it when all of the festivities are over and normal life resumes!
The complete guide to migraines and diet, and the TGAC 3 Day Anti-Migraine Protocol can be found in the book Food to Fight Migraine: A Complete Guide to Dietary Control.