Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Trigger Identified

And this one hurts. I've discovered MSG is probably my biggest migraine trigger at this time. You know how people say MSG is in everything? Well, I like to say it's in everything else, too. From what I understand, MSG is a very cheap way to add flavoring to food. So naturally, food manufacturers love it. But lately, people are coming down hard on MSG. Some of the research shows it can actually trigger hunger. So there are food manufacturers/restaurants that are promoting themselves as "MSG-free" to provide what is referred to as a clean label.

The FDA requires a food manufacturer to list MSG (short for monosodium glutamate) in the list of ingredients if a food contains actual MSG as a stand-alone ingredient. However, food companies have gotten sneaky and have found ways to hide MSG in their foods without listing it so they can label themselves "MSG-free". It turns out, if an ingredient already listed in the ingredient list of a food contains MSG, the FDA does not require the manufacturer to list MSG.

I thought I had gone all MSG-free, but was still getting these multi-day, super severe migraines which were reminiscent of my MSG-triggered migraines. I was eating a ham and cheese sandwich almost every day for lunch, assuring myself it was an MSG-free meal. I did some research and came across this website: I discovered that my cheese slices contained whey protein concentrate and my bread contained yeast nutrient, both of which contain MSG. The website I referenced lists 46 ingredients that either always or usually contain MSG.

The list of foods I can eat is now much shorter than the list of foods I can't. And although there are a few restaurants that claim to be MSG-free, I can't eat out unless I can read an entire ingredient list for everything in my food. For example, Arby's claims to be MSG-free but their sesame seed bun which their roast beef sandwiches are served on contains yeast nutrient, which contains MSG.

It has been very difficult to completely cut MSG out of my diet (I'm a processed foods, eating out kind of girl and I really don't like too many whole foods). But the few times I've slipped up the result is terrible pain and I'm just not willing to risk it. I know I've only scratched the surface of what I know regarding migraines and my own personal triggers, and I still suffer daily migraines, but the intensity of the pain has definitely lessened now that I've nixed the MSG and I'm so glad I figured that one out.

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