What is a Headache Friendly Lifestyle?
It is a way of living that ensures you look after yourself as well as you can - both physically and mentally.
It means a good diet.
It means avoiding dehydration.
It means trying to achieve your ideal body weight, and the most up to date science says we should be reducing sugar intake (see "Sweet Poison" below)
It also means taking sensible steps to improve your sleep.
You must look after yourself well to try and reduce the impact of severe headaches.
You should be walking instead of taking the car - (Why not get a great value pedometer from esportsonline?)
Positive Lifestyle Choices are Better than Trigger Avoidance
For years and years people have talked about headache triggers.
However a better way is not to try and identify triggers to AVOID, but to take a more POSITIVE approach and look for healthy things to ADD IN and do.
Look at the issue of Migraine Food Triggers - it is so easy to develop an unhealthy obsession.
Based upon research evidence, these things can reduce your risk of headache and form the basis of The Headache Friendly Lifestyle:
Improving your sleep pattern
Poor sleep and bad headaches usually go hand in hand.
One study of chronic migraine (the worst type of migraine with continuous severe headaches) found a 30% improvement in headaches frequency and intensity just by getting people like you to pay attention to Sleep Hygiene.
People who do not eat well, skip meals and eat snacks at irregular hours probably increase their chance of a migraine.
Hunger is reported by a majority of people with migraine as something that seems to bring one on.
Feelings of hunger or cravings for chocolate and cheese could, however, be brought on by the migraine process itself - migraine building up in the brain almost certainly changes how you think and feel about food by altering your appetite and motivation.
A stringent restricted diet is not recommended as part of the Headache Friendly Lifestyle. It is much more important to enjoy what you eat.
The anxiety of worrying about what you are about to eat is more harmful.
Drink Plenty Water
90% of people with migraine will have worked out that deydration can be an issue. Try and drink a reasonable amount of water each day.
The amount you need will depend on your environment.If you live in the Arizona desert you will need more than if you live somewhere less warm like the UK.
About 1500ml is probably about right for most people who do not have kidney, heart or other diseases where fluid intake is restricted. Research studies support the use of regular water drinking as a way of improving the Quality of Life of people with headaches.
When it comes to looking at the scientific evidence, exercise to help headaches a bit more controversial, but there is no doubt that walking regularly improves your mental and physical health. If you are not used to walking a pedometer is a great way to get started and stay motivated - you should be aiming for 10,000 steps per day.
Exercise is essential for people who are trying to rebuild their lives when they have severe headaches.
5. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
There is now a way to lose weight without feeling like you are on a diet. It's a long story but I suggest that you read about David Gillespie's own story your self in his excellent book Sweet Poison or Dr Robert Lustigs book Fat Chance: The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease
These books will change your thinking on weight loss and getting healthy with a balanced diet.
Weight gain and headaches are connected. It is known that a Body Mass Index of 30 or over increases your risk of getting Chronic Daily Headache.
If you are overweight, then you need take a long term view of your health, as a healthy body mass is a key part of the Headache Friendly Lifestyle.
Losing weight is not something that is done on the spur-of-the-moment.
Joining a weight management group is probably the most effective way of achieving weight loss. Most of my own patients who lose weight successfully follow commercial weight management programmes. However, the most up to date evidence is pointing us away from 'low fat diet foods' to a diet that is low in sugar, and takes protein, carbohydrate, and fat in amounts that let you feel full and allow you to enjoy the taste of food once more.
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