Your weight is a reflection of your genes, environment, and lifestyle choices. You can’t change your genes, but you can modify your environment and lifestyle. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of chronic headaches. (See this post)

Environment: It is common in North America to have 1.5-3 times the recommended portion on our plates. Comfort foods are often calorie dense and many foods are nutrient poor. This leaves us hungry despite having had a surplus of calories. In order to lose weight and keep it off, it is important to purchase higher nutrient and lower calorie foods and eat them in moderation.

Lifestyle: It is possible to lose weight while being sedentary, but it is much harder. Treating yourself to regular exercise will help you to lose weight faster, more easily, and to keep it off.

Here are some recommendations to help you manage your weight.

  1. Set achievable goals. Be patient, you will not be able to lose your excess weight in days. Weight loss should not exceed 0.5 kg or 1 to 2 lbs per week. Do not follow miracle diets. Make healthy choices, do not deprive yourself.
  2. Keep a food diary. Even if it is only for a few weeks, a food diary will help you become aware of what you eat and help you make connections between your diet and your life.
      Take note of:
    • the amount you eat and drink
    • the timing of your meals / snacks
    • the timing of your meals / snacks
    • the state of your hunger before and after eating;
    • your emotions;
    • the place where you eat;
    • the duration of the meal.
  3. Eat regularly. Eat 3 meals and 3 light snacks per day. Eating breakfast is important because it fires up the metabolism for the day. Eating regularly is especially important for people with migraine because skipping meals is a known trigger for migraine.
  4. Eat slowly. This gives hunger time to dissipate, allowing you to feel more satisfied while eating less. If you tend to eat fast, make a habit of putting your fork down between each bite and chewing thoroughly.
  5. Drink water. Drink plenty of water (1.5-3 L per day). Try drinking water 15 minutes before you eat to bring on a feeling of satiety with less food. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, add a little lemon or some mint. Avoid high calorie drinks, including sugary and carbonated drinks, which often contain caffeine or alcohol. Diet drinks maintain sugar cravings and often contain artificial sweeteners that can trigger migraines. (See this post)
  6. Increase fiber and nutrients. Choose foods high in fiber and try eating them at the start of the meal to increase satiety. Meals should contain 3 of 4 food groups (fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, meat and substitutes).
  7. Healthy Snacks. Keep fruit, almonds, yogurt, or fresh vegetables available for snacking. Avoid cookies, chips, cakes, other high fat, high calorie, and low-nutrient foods.
  8. Avoid shopping when you are hungry. This will help you stick to your list and not succumb to temptations.
  9. Exercise regularly. Regular smaller exercise sessions are better than having one large session every 2 weeks. Physical activity burns calories, helps relieve stress, regulates appetite, and promotes sleep. See our tips on exercise! (See this post)
  10. Get enough sleep. Sleep plays an important role in weight management. Getting too little sleep promotes weight gain by causing changes in basal metabolism (the calories burned at rest). Staying up late and feeling tired can promote appetite in an attempt to offset fatigue. See our Ultimate List for Sleep (See this post)
  11. Learn to listen to your body. You can become aware of your eating behaviors by paying more attention to your sensations of hunger and satiety. Also, learning to manage stress (rather than stress-eating) can help decrease cortisol secretion and prevent weight gain. Conversely, chronic stress causes constant release of cortisol, which promotes the accumulation of fat, especially in the abdomen.
  12. Eat smaller portions. Increase servings of fruits and vegetables and decrease starches and meat. Vegetables should fill half of your plate! For fruits, eat at least 2 servings per day. Observe recommended portion sizes and use smaller plates.
  13. Cook more and take pleasure in eating. Deprivation leads to frustration. Discover new menus. Savoring the flavors helps you to feel satiated. Pre-packaged meals promote weight gain. The time you spend cooking helps you to enjoy your food more and reduces stress.
  14. Get Help. There is power in numbers. Join an exercise group, get a walking buddy, or talk to your family doctor or other professional about strategies and supports that are available in your area.


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