Major Problem (veg*nism causing headaches) - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 07-29-2006, 12:03 PM
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I have a problem. I became a vegetarian almost 2 years ago and ever since I have been getting the WORST headaches. I dont think I replace my protein but I dont know what to replace it with. I am very worried cause I dont want to go the doctor and have them tell me that I need to eat meat agian. But I dont know what I should replace it with. Please Help. Either PM me or just reply. Thanks.

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#2 Old 07-29-2006, 12:19 PM
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ehm some good protein sources would be:

beans, pulses, tvp (texturised vegetable protein), tofu, tempeh, nuts..

at least that's what I eat all the time and I'm not deficient of anything
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#3 Old 07-29-2006, 12:26 PM
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Anyone else?
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#4 Old 07-29-2006, 12:29 PM
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Hi Ani, I'm very sorry to hear that. I had very frequent headaches BEFORE I went veg, and going veg helped them a lot, so I have the opposite story.

Maybe you're way ahead of me here, having had 2 years to struggle with this, but have you checked your nutrition profile and looked at vitamins/minerals you could be low on? Do you take any multivitamins? One mineral that comes to mind is magnesium-- studies have linked low magnesium levels with headaches. However, I'm not sure that switching to a vegetarian diet would cause you to have a lower magnesium intake, because I think most of the good sources of magnesium are plant-based foods anyway.

Anyway, if you haven't gone through this sort of process already, I would recommend that you try logging your food on for a week or so and then runa report on your nutrient intake to see if anything is obviously low (Warning: FitDay doesn't track Vitamin K or Selenium correctly, so they WILL show up as low. Ignore that.) If you do find a likely suspect, try getting more of it into your diet and see if that helps.

As for replacing protein, I think it's pretty unlikely that lack of protein is your problem. I've seen a few indications that switching to a lower-protein diet may actually HELP chronic headaches rather than causing them. The type of diet most meaters eat contains far more protein than the body actually needs or can use, so replacing protein is just not the concern most people think it is. But if you really feel you need more protein in your diet, some good high protein foods include beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, soyfoods such as tofu and tempeh, and potentially dairy and eggs if you eat them.
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#5 Old 07-29-2006, 12:31 PM
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It's unlikely that a lack of protein would cause you to get headaches. Besides, if you're still eating dairy and eggs you're getting more than enough protein. The onset of the headaches at the time you went vegetarian may be a coincidence, or you may have increased your intake of something you're sensitive to that triggers headaches (soy products, for instance).

Regardless you should definitely go see a doctor if you're having serious headaches on a regular basis. Even if you are deficient in something and they tell you to eat meat, you have the option of working with a nutritionist to come up with a vegetarian plan that meets your needs.
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#6 Old 07-29-2006, 12:35 PM
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Thank You everyone. I am going to do the Fit thing and see what THAT says. I really appreciate it. If anybody has any other advice, please let me know.
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#7 Old 07-29-2006, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue Plastic Straw View Post may have increased your intake of something you're sensitive to that triggers headaches (soy products, for instance).

Oh, definitely. *smacks forehead* Can't believe I didn't think of that. Soy can be a trigger for a lot of people, and it may be that you're sensitive to it. It could be something else, but soy is a pretty common one. Peanuts are another. And what's the one thing a lot of vegetarians suddenly start adding to their diet? You guessed it, soy!

I think that's a good candidate for a trial elimination diet. You can accomplish two things by logging your food on FitDay for a week-- you can look for a nutrient that's lacking, and you can use it to track your headaches along with your food and try to see if there's a correlation between what you eat and your headaches. If you do notice a correlation, chances are you'll be well on your way to isolating the offending food so you can cut it out or at least minimize it.

Caffeine, chocolate, aged cheese, and red wines are also well-known headache triggers. Have you increased your intake of any of these?
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#8 Old 07-29-2006, 12:48 PM
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I drink alot of Dr.Pepper and Chocolate. But not THAT much. Once every few days.
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#9 Old 07-29-2006, 05:33 PM
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I think tracking your food, generally speaking, is probably one of the most important things you can do to try to track down the cause of your hedaches. Even if you just do it in a little paper journal, note everything you eat and when you eat it, then note when you get headaches, and look for a link.

If you dont' want to go through that process, you can also just mentally go down the list of new foods you've added since you've been vegetarian, and think about what you've added a lot of that you didn't eat so much before, and if you identify a likely suspect, you can skip straight to the part where you try cutting that food out of your diet to see if you feel better. Most sources I've read recommend cutting it out for a month, but if you've cut out the right food, you may see results a lot quicker.

PS: If it turns out it IS soy, it's not the end of the world; you can still be vegetarian. There are lots of vegetarians who don't eat soy.
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#10 Old 07-29-2006, 07:23 PM
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Unfortunately, some people are very sensitive to wheat gluten. Have you greatly increased your wheat/gluten intake since becoming vegetarian? I'm not saying that's definitely what it is, but it very well could be. It takes a while to get it out of your system, so don't dispair if you don't eat bread for a day and find no improvement.

Its much more likely to be the gluten thing, than that you "need" to eat meat. Its not fun to give up, but it's helped a friend of mine who suffers from terrible headaches. Give it a shot! :-)

Also, look out for other common headache triggers, like caffeine, or MSG. I've never heard of soy being a problem, but you can try that too.
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