5 Simple Tips For A Vegetarian Headache That Will Help You
Headaches are an unpleasant part of our lives that ruin our day and make us miserable, cranky, and upset. And the worst thing is that a headache might appear out of the blue without any obvious reason. You know what I’m talking about, right?
However, if you have started a vegetarian diet and your head hurts more than usual, you can’t but wonder whether the two are connected.
Well, some people do report headaches after going vegetarian, but there are numerous reasons why your head might be hurting, and it could be completely unrelated to your diet.
So, if you have severe headaches that are not affected by medication, it’s for the best to make an appointment with your doctor to rule out a more serious issue.
Let’s now see what tricks you can use to avoid or get rid of vegetarian headaches.
1. Don’t go cold turkey
When you take the decision to become a vegetarian you have two choices –go cold turkey or take things slowly. Both approaches have pros and cons, and it’s up to decide which one is more suitable for you. But let’s think about your body, shall we?
If you have been eating meat regularly, cutting it out comes out as a shock to your system, and your body needs time to adapt to the new regime.
Think about giving up cigars of caffeine. You experience some nasty withdraw symptoms, don’t you? The same principle applies here because you’ve been eating food full of additives.
What’s more, the fact that you can’t eat certain things is bound to be stressful, especially if you are not a big fan of change. Even a simple thing such as shopping in the supermarket or eating lunch with your friends can put too much pressure on you.
And stress and headaches go hand in hand, as we all know very well. So, an excellent alternative is to start cutting out meat one at a time until you are ready for the big change. Moreover, you are less likely to experience food cravings if you don’t rush things.
2. Drink plenty of water
Another reason for your headache might be dehydration. But that’s impossible, you would say, I drink plenty of water. I know that it sounds far-fetched, but hear me out.
Vegetarian diet typically includes food which is rich in soluble fiber. For example, carrots, grains, apples, nuts. But the soluble fiber absorbs water from your digestive track, and as a result, a diet rich in such foods might lead to mild dehydration.
And once you’re dehydrated, that affects how much oxygen-rich blood reaches your brain.
The typical symptoms of a dehydration headache are:
- low blood sugar
The best indicator if you are dehydrated is the color of your urine. If it’s a pale gold color, you are doing a great job of keeping yourself hydrated. But if it has a dark color, you have a problem.
The good news is that if your headache is caused by dehydration, rehydrating as soon as possible will make you feel better. Or you can take some pain medication if the pain is too bad.
But since it’s for the best to avoid such unpleasant situation, make sure that you’re drinking an adequate amount of water every day. For reference, you need between 6-12 glasses of water a day, depending on how active you are.
3. Watch out the calories
What are you eating, is the next question you should be asking yourself? If you are eating healthy vegetarian foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts (not pizza and junk food), you might not be getting enough energy.
That might be the culprit behind your headache episodes, especially if you are restricting your carbohydrate intake because you’re worried about your weight.
Calories are the fuel that your body requires to function. When it doesn’t get enough carbs, it starts to burn fat and produces ketones. This process is called ketosis, and you might have heard about it if you have diabetes.
Such a low-carb diet is used mainly by people trying to lose weight fast, but high levels of ketones in your blood are dangerous, and some unpleasant side effects appear:
- low blood sugar
While at first, a low-carb diet might seem perfect, you shouldn’t starve yourself on purpose, especially if you have diabetes. That might lead to more serious, life-treating conditions.
My advice is when you are hungry - eat. Don’t play deaf to the warning signs that your body is sending you. Keep a healthy snack close by and eat small, frequent meals.
Just keep an eye on your calorie intake – you need around 2,000 calories per day (around 225 grams of carbs) if you are not trying to lose some weight.
4. Check your blood sugar levels
If you have a headache and you’re feeling weak and dizzy, check your blood sugar levels. As I already mentioned, a low-carb diet might lead to low levels of blood glucose. But isn’t this a good think, you ask?
Well, if you have diabetes, a low-carb diet will help you keep your levels in the recommended borders. But when your blood glucose goes too low, it’s called hypoglycemia. The usual symptoms of this condition are:
- severe headache
- mild nausea
You can also experience these symptoms if you tend to fast or skip meals, so don’t do that. What’s more, for diabetics, this could be a very dangerous, even life-treating situation.
So be very careful if you are trying a vegetarian diet to control your blood sugar levels. Eat healthy low-sugar meals throughout the day and never skip breakfast or lunch and you should be fine.
5. Eat products rich in iron and vitamin B12
Your headache also might be the result of a nutrient deficiency. We must consider two things above all here – iron and vitamin B12.
If fatigue and weakness accompany your headaches, you might not be getting enough iron. Since iron is necessary to transport oxygen to your cells, when your iron levels drop, you get anemia. In the beginning, symptoms are mild, but they get worse with time.
But how could this be possible?
The primary source of iron is red meat, something that you as a vegetarian don’t eat. But you shouldn’t despair. Many vegetarian foods are rich in iron, and you should make an effort to include them in your diet. Your best options are:
- Black beans
- Prune juice
However, there is one issue. While it’s true that many plants are rich in iron, your body doesn’t absorb plant-based iron as easily as iron from meat. As a result, your body still might not be getting the amount it needs to function properly.
That’s why it’s important that you keep an eye on your iron levels. If you have any of the following symptoms in combination with headaches, go and consult your doctor:
- pale skin
- shortness of breath
- fast heartbeat
- brittle nails
- tingling in the legs
Another important nutrient that you might be lacking is vitamin B12. This is a crucial vitamin that your body requires to form red blood cells, and it’s the only vitamin that you can find only in animal products, mainly meat.
When you start your vegetarian diet, it’s imperative that you include enough foods rich in vitamin B12. If you don’t do that, you are at risk of mild B12 deficiency, which presents with following symptoms headaches, anemia, depression, and fatigue.
So, which foods are suitable for you and have high B12 content? Well, you can eat:
- Swiss cheese – 56% of the DV
- Whey powder – 46 % DV
- Milk – 19% of DV for a cup
- Yogurt -15% DV per cup
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
You need around 1.8 mcg daily to remain in optimal health. The good news is that, unlike vegans, you can eat plenty of dairy products to get vitamin B12 and you probably won’t have to take any additional supplements.
Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to check your B12 levels from time to time to make sure that everything is all right.
As you can see, a vegetarian headache can be the result of many different factors. The most important thing you should do is listen to your body and remember to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced meal.
However, if the headaches persist, it’s imperative that you consult with your doctor as soon as possible, especially if you have issues with your heart and blood pressure.
Did you use to have vegetarian headaches? Tell us what you think in the comment section and share your experience with us. And don’t forget – give us a like and don’t keep the article to yourself – show it to your family and friends.