03 May 2009

Getting Back in Balance

It seems that Spring has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and I have been planting flowers and vegetables...and having fewer headaches. The tomatoes in the photo were from last year's crop. I am hoping to have more this year. 

While weather changes do seem to bring on headaches for me, the change to Spring has been surprisingly mild headache-wise. Each month since January I have had one less headache that I had to take a triptan drug to abort. April was the best month in a long while. Only 5 triptan-worthy headaches. As usual, I think the reason for the improvement is due to a mix of things. My doctor has me taking a preventative blood pressure med that I am now taking half a dose in the morning and half at night. I continue to watch my diet and blood sugar to avoid triggers and sugar crashes. And I exercise almost daily and get enough sleep. One other thing that has helped is to take Aleve with the triptan drug and then to continue taking Aleve on the third day after the headache to prevent any lingering inflammation from triggering it again. That seems to work pretty well, but is tricky. If I take too much Aleve it bothers my stomach. A lot. 

So balance seems to be the word of the day. If I keep myself in balance, mentally and physically, and if the weather isn't too changeable, I can keep the headaches at bay. I still struggle to remember to drink enough water for me. And I have been struggling to get my diet on track. My latest tactic is to really push the fruits and vegetables and try to keep things interesting.  Most days I make a big salad for lunch and I find that if I add some chopped apple or leftover roasted potato to it I don't have the cravings for sweets afterwards. Which is good. I make my own salad dressings to avoid gluten and preservatives that my head doesn't like. Recently a reader asked how I make dressings so I thought I would share my recipe, such as it is.

I keep track of how much oil I use pretty carefully so whether I make a small or large amount of dressing, I always measure the oil in teaspoons. This is because I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and I know that 1 tsp. of oil equals 1 WW point on their program. So if I know how many teaspoons of oil are in a serving of my dressing, I can figure out how to count my portion. So here it is. I just use 1 tsp. of good olive or walnut oil and add either 1 tsp. or 1 T of vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, maybe a bit of mustard or water. I use the 1/1 ratio if I want a less tart dressing, or I add some water. Sometimes I add some stevia (a natural zero calorie sweetener). Sometimes I add a little soft fresh goat's cheese (Chavrie) if I want creaminess.

The trick is to use high quality ingredients. I love the oils from O & Co. My favorite dressing is to use a 1/1 ratio of their citron olive oil and their balsamic vinegar. It is so sweet and delicious. I also like to mix their olive oils with champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar. When I use the latter, I use a larger amount of vinegar: 1 Tablespoon per 1 tsp. oil. 

Latest great gluten-free find: Glutino Fiber Bread. I got it at Whole Foods Market. It tastes like real bread and if you put a little butter on it toasted, you can forget it's gluten-free. It is made from corn and tapioca starch and has flax seed meal, sugar beet fiber, some sugar and egg white and is fortified. At 90 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber, it is 2 WW points per slice.


Lori said...

I am reading some entries on your blog and tears are coming to my eyes. I have had a constant headache for about a year now. I currently see a chiropractor and that has helped (on x-ray my neck is a little crooked in places). However, except for about a two week period I have had a constant headache. I tried a daily med and didn't like the side effects (he said "you may forget the names of your children for a while" ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!). A different chiro did a muscle test and told me I was gluten intolerant. I did the gluten free thing for a while and didn't notice much difference, except that some foods did cause me to have a worse headache within 30 minutes. Long story short, I am trying to go gluten free again (Oreos seem to be a BAD trigger for me :(!). Been off caffeine for almost 5 years.
Anyway, I am not happy that headaches seem to be running my life! I want to change! As far as finding out food allergies where do I start? I don't think an allergist is the way to go? What type of doctor did you use to discover yours? What about a nutritionist?
Any help getting started would be great!


Karen said...

Hi Lori,

So sorry to hear about your headache. I had a constant headache for about a year when I was in high school and I was living on Excedrin and caffeine. One day it just went away. Looking back on it, I was probably having rebound headaches and making it worse taking the Excedrin.

In answer to your question, I was tested for food allergies by a naturopathic doctor who referred me to a lab she used (which was collocated with the clinic she worked at). I went to the Tahoma Clinic in Renton, WA and their lab, Meridian Lab did the tests. I think that for IGG type food allergies you will need to see a naturopath or some sort of wholistic doctor to get anywhere. Mainstream docs think IGG mediated allergies are not allergies, but intolerances and they do not test for them.

Suzanne Somers has a list of clinics and labs in one of her books on bioidentical hormone replacement. That is a good place to start. Or just search on naturopaths in your area. They are licensed in several states.

Good luck and stay away from Oreos. It could be the chocolate or the sugar that is triggering your headache. Also try reading the Heal your Headache book. That is really good for trigger information.