November is upon us, which can bring lots of excitement and additional Migraine triggers into our lives. I need to be extra vigilant about staying hydrated, not skipping meals and keeping a regular sleeping schedule. Keeping up with my Migraine diary during this time is very important too. In addition to staying on my Migraine management plan, there are other important holiday decisions that need to be completed. Some of these may include where we'll spend the holidays, what kind of turkey we buy, how the turkey will be prepared and what about the pies? How many different kinds of pies will be served? All these choices can leave one feeling overwhelmed. I know the more decisions I have to make the more beleaguered I feel.
Let's talk about some of these Thanksgiving dinner options. What kind of turkey should I serve? When it comes to Migraine triggers, turkey is not a known food trigger (turkey lunchmeat is) but for some sensitive Migraineurs, it may be best to avoid a "basting" turkey seeing as those have additives in them. Your other turkey options can include frozen or fresh, organic (no growth hormones or antibiotics) or natural (no artificial anything,) a free-range turkey (birds roam free) or you could pick a kosher turkey, which is processed under the supervision of a rabbi. Once that monumental decision has been made, you can move on to the cooking process. Will you use your tried and true method or brave a new recipe? I've heard grilling and deep frying turkeys are pretty good, but I think I'm going to stick with the basic roasting method.
What about the stuffing? Do you stuff your turkey then cook it together? Or, on the other hand, do you make your stuffing and cook it separately? What kind of stuffing do you make? Some stuffing recipes call for sausage, cranberries, nuts, onion and garlic. These can be Migraine triggers for some people. If so, find a recipe that doesn't have your food triggers. Or you could try substituting a few ingredients - use shallots instead of onion and garlic if they don't trigger a Migraine. You could try rice stuffing instead of a bread stuffing this year. If you are looking for some new ideas, take a look at The Headache Prevention Cookbook. If you must make stuffing with known food triggers to please certain people, it seems there there are two options. One would be to modify a small portion of the recipe for yourself, and two - just don't eat it. Of course that would never fly with me, because I will choose stuffing over mashed potatoes any day!
The side dishes we make for Thanksgiving dinner can be easy to control. Feel free to serve only the dishes that don't trigger a Migraine for you. If you are a crowd pleaser and tend to make everyone happy, you no doubt will cook some standards that may trigger you. Here's an idea - how about cooking a small portion of a dish that won't trigger a Migraine - just for you. Then make sure you enjoy it. You deserve a Migraine-free Thanksgiving. If you're spending Thanksgiving at someone's house, you can offer to bring that non-trigger food with you too.
What's for dessert? The finale of Thanksgiving dinner is pie. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, chocolate cream pie, sweet potato pie, ginger pumpkin pie with toasted coconut - and on it goes. From this list, I can see more triggers than I care to admit. Again, it's about choices. We can make a pie that won't trigger a Migraine in addition to the traditional pies that are served. What about the coffee that goes with the pie? I am no longer drinking caffeine. If I am having dinner at someone else's house, I certainly don't expect him or her to have caffeine free beverages for me. So I'll be taking my own.
Thanksgiving is a perfect example of how we can make better choices in our life that may make the difference between having an OK day and a great day. If we plan ahead and take care of ourselves, we may be able to avoid some of our Migraine triggers and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. At least that's my wish for all of you.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all,
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Last updated November 8, 2011.