I am so happy to have my friend Stephanie Weaver, MPH, CWHC on my weekly Plant Chat today! Stephanie is an author, blogger, and certified wellness and health coach. She has a Master’s degree of Public Health in nutrition education from the University of Illinois. You can find more than 350 gluten-free recipes on her blog Recipe Renovator, suitable for many special diets. Weaver writes for The Huffington Post, and her recipes have been featured online in Cosmopolitan, Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, and Parade. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and their golden retriever Daisy. I was thrilled to contribute to Stephanie’s wonderful new book The Migraine Relief Plan. Continue reading to learn more about Stephanie’s new book and her best tips on managing migraines through diet.
What was the inspiration behind your book The Migraine Relief Plan?
I wrote the book that I needed, because it didn’t exist! My neurologist gave me a 3-page handout that simply listed foods in a “don’t” list. It didn’t explain why, or how, or how long to try it. At that time, I was having daily headaches, and 3-5 days of migraine symptoms a week, including wicked vertigo. So I was motivated to find a solution that didn’t rely solely on prescriptions.
How do the food choices we make affect migraines or increase the likelihood of getting them?
It’s estimated that 30-40% of migraine sufferers have food triggers, although there is little research on the topic. For me, even though I ate a very “healthy” diet, it turned out that diet was full of migraine triggers. And I was sensitive to many of them. Since migraine triggers add up (are cumulative), the idea in The Migraine Relief Plan is to remove as many of them as possible from your life on an on-going basis, helping you live far below your migraine threshold.
What are some foods that can trigger migraine symptoms?
The most common culprits are likely MSG, caffeine, aspartame, and soy products. Since everyone is different, the trigger list can be long. For example, I recommend avoiding citrus fruits during the four-month testing period, and then testing them one at a time to add back in as many of these nutritious fruits as possible.
What are some of your best diet tips for people struggling with migraines?
Avoid processed food and sugar, get off caffeinated beverages, and eat regularly throughout the day. Some doctors believe that blood sugar drops are actually the migraine trigger, not the food itself. My Plan helps you achieve these changes gently and gradually over 8 weeks.
How does your 8 week migraine relief plan work?
Each week you have an easy assignment, like cleaning out your freezer. You gradually cut back on caffeine, sodium, and sugar. You change over one meal (snacks, then breakfast, lunch, dinner) per week. And you gradually regulate your sleep, gentle exercise, and some kind of relaxation activity like meditation or yoga. Once you’re fully on The Plan, I recommend spending four months with the lifestyle to see you how feel, before testing foods to add them back. The goal is to live on the Plan long-term, with a full array of delightful whole foods to nourish you.
What is your personal nutrition philosophy?
Enjoy food! Deprivation doesn’t work. Eat enough healthy fat, and as many vegetables as you possibly can. And, plan to fail. I have a whole chapter on failure, as I think diet books set an unrealistic standard for people. I will eat off my Plan sometimes, and so will you. It’s okay. It’s important to savor life.
Here is one of Stephanie’s favorite recipes from her book, The Migraine Relief Plan.
It’s not easy following the Plan if you are vegetarian or vegan, as so many of your protein sources are potential triggers. The quinoa and black beans in this dish are high in protein, making it a hearty vegetarian one-dish meal.
1 cup (175g) quinoa, any color
1 cup (250mL) filtered water
1 (1.5–2 pound [680–900g]) butternut or other fall squash
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped kale, stems included
1/2 cup cooked no-salt-added or low-sodium black beans, drained (optional)
Put the quinoa and filtered water in a glass bowl and set aside to soak while you are prepping the vegetables.
Peel the squash, cut it in half, remove the seeds and strings, and cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Add to a large mixing bowl, along with the carrots, celery, kale, black beans, if using, and garlic.
Drizzle the oil over the vegetables and toss. Sprinkle with the curry powder and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spray or oil a large lidded casserole dish. If you don’t have a lid, cut a piece of aluminum foil to cover. Set aside.
Drain and rinse the quinoa.
Add the drained quinoa and stock to the casserole dish. Gently agitate the dish to distribute the quinoa evenly, while keeping it submerged in the liquid.
Carefully add the vegetables evenly on top, spreading with a spatula and keeping as much of the quinoa in contact with the liquid as possible.
Bake, covered or wrapped tightly in foil, for 35 to 45 minutes, or just until the vegetables are fork-tender.
Remove from the oven, uncover, and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
Cooks’ Note: You must use a casserole dish with a lid, or cover your dish tightly with foil, or the quinoa will dry out and not cook properly. Choose pre-prepped or frozen butternut squash to shorten prep time. You can prep all the vegetables a day ahead. It’s important to cut them uniformly; the small dice allows them to cook through.
Per serving (excluding black beans): 6g protein, 36g carbohydrates, 9g fat, 1g saturated fat, 202mg sodium, 868mg potassium, 6g fiber
Reprinted with permission from The Migraine Relief Plan, copyright 2016 Stephanie Weaver. Published by Surrey Books, an imprint of Agate Publishing, Inc.