Don’t stress: If you’re in charge of the festivities, make it easy on yourself. Plan a casual day, out of the heat as much as possible. Ask people to bring a dish to share. Don’t plan too many activities; remember to make it about people, not a performance.
Avoid food triggers: Barbequed meats, cheeses, chips, dips, pickles & olives, meat tenderizers and lots of sugary stuff – the chemicals found in these ingredients have all been associated with migraines. If you are going to a celebration where you might not have your choice of foods, take along foods that you know are safe for you. If you have suffered migraines for a long time, you likely know what foods trigger them. If you’re not really sure what foods trigger your migraines, some safe bets are burgers without tenderizers prepared with basic seasonings like salt and pepper, grilled chicken and vegetables or fruit salads.
Hydrate! Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, tea or coffee. If iced drinks are a trigger for you, be sure to ask for your tea without it. Avoid sodas all together, both regular and diet.
Avoid alcohol: Heat, crowds, and other triggers are bad enough, so don’t add alcohol to the mix as it can make you much more sensitive to all of it. Stick with water, fruit juice, coffee, or if available, beverages sweetened with stevia or erythritol.
Tamp down lights and sound: Take along ear protection if you are triggered by loud noises. You can buy the little foam earplugs at Ace Hardware for under $1. Consider wearing sunglasses when you watch the fireworks as bright, strobing or blinking lights can be a major migraine trigger.
Hopefully, these hints will make your day a true celebration instead of just a headache in the making. Be safe, and enjoy!
Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.