A Healing Journey - Part Two
So it’s time to resume my migraine and headache healing story.
[If you haven't already... read part one here ]
We got to the point where I was fed up with constant headaches and scared by the state I got into while taking pills.
I was determined to find a solution to my headaches – there had got to be another way than relying on painkillers to treat my symptoms and dealing with their side affects.
I began looking into types of headaches and discovered I had a combination of a few types. I was shocked to learn some of them could have been caused by food, diet and digestion. I didn't think I was an unhealthy eater, so hadn’t considered food could be the source of some of my problems.
As I researched online I came across a blog where a lady spoke of an anti-headache diet plan by an American Doctor. His name is Dr Fuhrman. He is passionate about eating healthfully and helping people resolve their problems through good nutrition and better lifestyle choices.
This excited me! I was willing to give anything a try. I ordered his book online and read it cover to cover within days. And then again – I couldn’t get enough of the words I was reading!
I implemented his approach to nutrition and followed a very basic food plan. The idea is to eat very simply to give your body a rest from processed foods and toxins. Then you start adding back foods slowly and notice how you feel after eating them and if you experience any symptoms.
This was the point that I chose to become plant based, and stopped eating dairy, meat, eggs and fish. I was horrified to learn from Dr Furhman that the hormones and drugs that animals are given stay within them - within the meat, poultry, fish and eggs that we eat and the milk we drink - that we then digest! This can cause allsorts of problems and imbalances within our bodies (and who needs extra hormones?!).
As Dr Fuhrman predicted, I did experience detox symptoms for a couple of weeks after changing my diet. But at the same time I felt so much better straight away! I totally fell in love with the power of plants.
I kept up this very careful diet for the rest of the summer and slowly added in more and more whole foods, testing how different foods made me feel (like nuts, grains and beans). I discovered I am ok with pretty much everything, as long at it isn’t processed. It is a process of slowly testing what you are and aren’t ok with.
I spent the rest of the summer doing my own research into plant based diets and the healing powers of food. I watched lots of documentaries, read lots of books and watched lots of lectures from Dr Fuhrman online. I couldn't get enough of this education! I wanted to shout to everyone "look what I did with plants - they healed me!"
I felt so amazing and alive and literally bursting with energy!! In complete contrast to before where I could barely face the thought of exercise, I felt as if I couldn't contain myself - as if I were a child bursting to get out at playtime with energy to burn!
Now I follow a wholefood plant-based diet. I have never looked back and feel the best that I ever have!
Following that summer I went the whole of my final year of university with just one migraine episode, and not even a handful of headaches. A fantastic result considering my history!
We are always learning
After completing my degree and graduating, I went to work for one of the companies I interned at during my sandwich year. It was in the fashion industry and it was great fun, we were always working on very exiting things for well known brands.
Although I had loved it as an intern it just wasn’t the same when I went back. There was a lot more stress and pressure, and I began to feel it with headaches again. With my nutrition sorted I started looking into causes from my environment.
It became clear that work was turning into my trigger. At times a stressful, busy environment, with deadlines and pressure. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a stress-head or constantly worked up, but I realised I got affected by other people's stress as well as my own. I did begin to notice how tense I was both at work and at home after work.
In times of stress I started to question myself... “is this worth the worry? No!!! Relax! You'll be more productive if you chill out, slow down a little. It'll make you more productive in the long run".
Most of the time it wasn’t worth my worry and it certainly wasn’t a life or death situation.
I began looking into practices that really cared for me.
I started looking into mediation to release some tension I gained from work. I had dabbled in it a bit the summer before, using videos on youtube, but never really got into it. This time I downloaded an app and started using that for 10 minutes at lunchtime. It made me feel amazing after just 10 minutes! Like I was a new person – refreshed and ready to get on with what the rest of the day had in-store for me. I used this as often as I could, and learnt to notice when I was feeling tense, when I needed headspace and the relief it brought me.
One day whilst reading articles online I came across a study that showed the effectiveness of a daily yoga practice against migraines. After three months of practicing everyday, the participants in the study had a significant reduction in their migraine pain, duration and frequency.
This study really stuck with me. Since then I have practiced almost everyday. One yoga session I did the other day completely got rid of a travel-induced tension headache - it blew me away with the effect it had on me! Gone. Just like that. I have regained power over my body.
I don't always manage a full yoga session, most of the time I fit in 10 minutes as a bedtime relaxation. This is now one of my favourite parts of my day, it feels like such a treat!
To add to this, breathing exercises helped me massively. They can transform your energy and release tension instantly! And you can do them anywhere. At your desk, on the bus, when walking along, sitting in a traffic jam etc... Read more about one of the techniques called the 4-7-8 breath here.
We get so much stimulation in our lives these days, we live in a stress-promoting world! This was one of my big problems. Our attention is constantly being grabbed by something, phones, tablets, TV, adverts, even in supermarkets with rainbow packaging and banners everywhere. We are missing real downtime, time away from technology and space to just be.
One of my most important things I've learnt on my healing journey is to be more mindful of how you react to things. Be aware of how stuff makes you feel, whether that be a situation you are in or foods that you are eating.
All the progress I have made so far hasn’t happened quickly – it has been about self-discovery, learning and improving, trying new things and tuning into my body. I am truly grateful for every experience that has brought me here and that has made me who I am today.
The next chapter
To bring us right up to date… I found myself enjoying my job less and less. I spent an increasing amount of my time making myself better just to go back to a work environment that was not doing me any good.
I questioned why I was putting myself through it and decided there had to be another way.
I wanted change. In my spare time I studied at the T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition Studies and gained a certificate in plant-based nutrition. I loved it. It was fascinating and inspiring to learn in-depth about the power of food.
So many of the leading causes of death today can be prevented by better nutrition and lifestyle choices. It is heartbreaking to hear of so many people suffering with easily preventable diseases. This makes me even more passionate about promoting better lifestyle choices for our future, our health and happiness, and for everyone we care about.
Now I'm a health, healing and wellbeing coach. I studied with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition - the biggest nutrition school in the world! Not only do I look at nutrition, but consider the whole picture of your life. This includes healthy relationships, exercise and career alongside other things. It makes so much sense - if you eat all the kale in the world, but are feeling lonely, or have no sense of purpose, it's unlikely you're going to feel your most vibrant and alive self.
I'm super excited that I get to help people like you make a difference to their lives! If you'd like my help checkout these programs I offer.
Thank you for reading my story. I hope you got something out of it. Please let me know if you've had any similar experiences, or would like some help in healing your life - I'd love to hear your story and to help you! Connect with me on Instagram or send me an email.