Hi, I’m Alison and I’m the VP of Operations here at The Greater Knead, and that picture is of my dog Cooper trying his best to take care of me. My typical day starts with, well, coffee, lots of coffee, and arriving at our facility bright and early with our bakers to make sure production can get started without a hitch! Throughout my day I am answering emails, coordinating logistics, gathering, organizing, and analyzing production data, checking in on production, assisting R&D, assessing our bagels to hit quality standards, and making absolute certain that our allergen control is super controlled. I’ve gotten it pretty much down to a science, until a migraine hits.
For the better part of a decade I have suffered from migraines. For those who know, you get me, for those who don’t – when I say suffer – oh man is it the WORST! I can barely move, can’t keep my eyes open, my mind becomes San Francisco style foggy, it feels like my heart is beating out of my right temple, and don’t even get me started on the nausea… Sleeping doesn’t help but it’s the only thing I’m capable of even doing, and I’ve pretty much figured it out that if I take one or two of every medicine in my cabinet, take a really super hot shower for as long as the water stays super hot, then an ice pack, then some type of complex carbohydrate style meal and lay down in a dark room with a blanket and the TV on in the distance with some kind of nature show on… I will prevail. It sometimes takes 3 days but hey, as long as I get out of it, I’m happy.
I’m pretty sure of what caused the onset of these lovely migraines (a string of concussions during my time playing collegiate rugby) but it has taken me a long time to figure out what triggers them now to keep coming back. I’ve seen a handful of neurologists and they all did basically the same thing. “Take this medication and in 3 months we’ll evaluate and if it’s not better we’ll put you on another one.” No, thank you. I was so over it.
I did a bunch of my own research and came to find that some ridiculous percentage of migraines were actually caused by food and reactions in the body. By the time I realized this I was already working with Michelle at TGK (then Sweet Note!) and my first thought was whoa – gluten is a cross reactor with migraines, let me try and avoid that since I’m already pretty well versed in the gluten free world. I started right away and went gluten free for about 9 months. My migraines definitely lessened but they didn’t completely go away so I slowly started to incorporate gluten back into my diet and realized that if I could control how much gluten I was consuming, it really seemed to help.
But my issue wasn’t resolved, and it seemed to be getting worse, or maybe as I’ve gotten older my tolerance has lessened, so at the urging of some really smart people in my life I started keeping a food diary. This also helps if you want to go on a diet… “do I really want to eat that candy bar, cause then I’ll have to write it down.” Anyway, for a whole month, no migraine! How rude, I just want to see what’s causing this but now I’m not even having any! Until one Friday in March that I got hit at like 10am on a really busy day. I managed to survive most of the day at work but then all the weekend plans just got cancelled, just like that. I went back into my food diary when I finally came out of my trance and the only new thing I had eaten in the 24 hours prior to the onset was red grapes.
Tyramine. I immediately googled (thank goodness for google) red grapes + migraine and found that there was a common link caused by tyramine that is typically found in red grapes, red wine, soy sauce, draft beer, aged cheese, deli meat, and citrus fruit! I immediately started cutting down on these foods in my diet and have, knock on wood, not had a migraine since.
Everything made so much sense, when I went gluten free – of course I felt better. I wasn’t drinking beer, using soy sauce, eating deli meats (there’s not a great selection of GF sandwich bread out there), I’ve never been a huge fan of citrus so it was only the cheese, grapes and red wine. And even now I’ve found that I can still tolerate it in small doses, I just have to be smart about what I’m consuming.
It has never ceased to amazes me how your body can really cure your ailments if you just listen when it’s telling you what hurts. I just wish I started listening a bit sooner.