Headache

Nataly Shemesh

Nataly Shemesh

Registered Dietitian
A woman is yawning, looking tired

Why does my head ache so much?

If you are feeling lethargic and tired and/or you’ve started to feel weakness or headaches – just keep reading 😊
Let’s start off by mentioning that there are many factors to consider, in addition to your diet, that may contribute to these sensations. Lack of sleep, stress, dehydration, a virus you just caught, eye or ear problems, and psychological factors can make you feel a bit under the weather. For instance, sometimes when we just change our diet, we begin to become more aware of our bodies and tend to associate everything that comes up with the dietary change.
Consider the following tips:

  • Make sure you eat a balanced and varied diet including:
    Protein-packed plant foods: legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils), soy and soy products (tofu, edamame, tempeh, TVP, soy milk), seitan, quinoa.
    Grains (especially whole grains): wheat and wheat products (bread, crackers, pasta, semolina, bulgur), corn, oatmeal, buckwheat.
    A variety of vegetables and fruits.
    Nuts, seeds, and their spreads (such as peanut butter and tahini).
  • Take a B12 supplement – this is very important even if you don’t have a deficiency (but you should have a blood test to determine the appropriate dosage and frequency).
  • Make sure your iron intake is sufficient – there are many plant-based iron sources, including legumes, soy products, certain leafy green vegetables, broccoli, iron-fortified cereals, whole grains, unhulled tahini, blackstrap molasses, and dried fruits. Iron absorption is significantly increased by eating foods that contain vitamin C (fresh vegetables and fruit) at the same time as foods that contain iron, soaking and sprouting legumes, and avoiding consuming coffee, tea (including herbal teas), and chocolate at the same time as foods that contain iron.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – 8-10 cups per day for women and 10-12 cups for men.
  • Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Get blood tests for complete blood count, iron, ferritin, vitamin B12, folic acid, and TSH. Take into consideration that if you are a new vegan (in the first few months), even if your diet is unbalanced, a short-term diet change can’t cause any deficiencies. If the tests show any deficiencies, it is most likely they were already present before the transition.
  • If you have any health conditions, take medications or feel the need to consult an expert, please contact your physician.

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