Brain freeze, also referred to an "ice cream headache" (a personal favorite of mine) or a more scientific term, a "cold-stimulus headache". Before revealing the secrets to living a brain freeze free life, I want to tell you a little about what they actually are and what causes them so that maybe you can come up with a few of your own ways to avoid the dreaded.
Brain freezes are usually experienced when you apply ice cream (or any similar cold food/drink) to the roof of your mouth. There is a cluster of nerves (sphenopalatine nerve) right above the roof of your mouth that act somewhat as a personal, protective thermostat for your brain. They are very sensitive to any abrupt change is temperature. The nerves sends a message to your brain, warning it of a major freeze, so it would be wise to prepare itself.
As this happens, the blood vessels surrounding the brain shrink as a protective barrier and to keep the warm blood around the brain for a longer period of time. The pounding sensation you feel is the blood trying to squeeze through the shrunken vessels.
So the obvious solution to avoiding a brain freeze is to avoid contact between the ice cream and the roof of your mouth. But how is that possible as you're eagerly shoveling spoonfuls of it into your mouth! Here are a few ways:
*Keep your mouth open a little: I don't mean gaping wide... That's rude... Just don't clamp down on the ice cream. Keep your jaw opened a little, with your lips closed a little. Just so that the ice cream doesn't press against the roof of your mouth.
* Flip your spoon over: This is what I do. Flipping your spoon blocks the ice cream from direct contact to the roof of your mouth. If doesn't work too well once the ice cream starts getting a little melty, but it's not as cold at this point. And it sometimes has the opposite effect if you're using a metal spoon... but only of your spoon is oddly cold.
* Eat slowly: Your mouth won't get as cold as quickly, plus, your treat will last longer!
* Pause between bites: Same as the above method
* Eat ice cream in the winter: This is kind of silly, but studies show that more people experience more brain freezes in the summer. In the winter, your mouth is naturally a bit cooler, so the change in temperature is less drastic.
ONCE ALREADY EXPERIENCING A BRAIN FREEZE:
* Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth: If your tongue is already cold from eating ice cream, try and flip your tongue over (if you have that talent). The bottom side should be warmer.
*Drink a room temperature substance: if you have one handy.. Just sip, don't gulp!
* Cup your hands over your mouth and nose, and breathe quickly: This keeps the warm air you just exhaled available for inhaling. Be careful not to get dizzy and pass out... That would take some of the fun away from your desert.
* Stick your thumb against the roof of your mouth: This one is a popular method... But I find it disgusting.. Your body heat warms the nerves and stops them from alerting your brain.
* Quickly start shoveling whipped cream into your mouth: Again,... if you have some handy.
So in the end, the most important thing to know is that a brain freeze is almost ALWAYS associated with the speed your frozen treat (whether it be ice cream, slurpies, frozen yogurt, milkshakes, popsicles, or a simple cold glass of milk) is consumed and how quickly is comes in contact with the roof of your mouth. Armed with this invaluable knowledge you will know how to completely avoid the dreaded brain-freeze!