Foods That Trigger Migraines

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  • Use Your Head: Eating Right to Avoid Migraines

    Use Your Head: Eating Right to Avoid Migraines

    If you’ve ever had a migraine headache, then you’ll be motivated to do whatever you can to avoid having another. Migraines can cause an intense pulsing or throbbing sensation, often on one side or area of your head. What’s more, they often arise with additional unpleasant symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound. Fortunately, you can take steps to decrease your chance of getting a migraine. Click through the slideshow to learn more about common migraine food triggers.

  • Hit-and-Miss Triggers

    Hit-and-Miss Triggers

    According to the University of California at Berkeley, certain types of foods and drinks may be responsible for bringing on a migraine in some people. This can happen frequently for some, or more occasionally for others. Additionally, a food that triggered a migraine for you last month might not cause the same reaction again.

  • Meat and Dairy Triggers

    Meat and Dairy Triggers

    A number of different types of meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products are thought to be possible migraine triggers. Processed meats—including canned, aged, or cured—are among the top culprits. To be safe, you may want to avoid hot dogs, bologna, sausage, pepperoni, and salami. In the dairy group, cultured dairy products—such as sour cream or buttermilk—may induce migraines. Popular cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, and provolone also could be triggers.

  • Fruit and Veggie Triggers

    Fruit and Veggie Triggers

    Fruits and vegetables are essential for a balanced diet, but you may need to monitor which types you eat if you’re a migraine sufferer. Fruit triggers include raisins, papayas, plums, bananas, avocados, and figs. (Overripe bananas and avocados have been found to be especially problematic for those with migraines.) Possible vegetable triggers include string beans, snow peas, onions, and raw garlic. A number of beans have also been identified as possible triggers, including lima, navy, garbanzo, pinto, and pole beans.

  • Beware These Breads

    Beware These Breads

    Most types of commercial bread are not known to bring on migraines. However, sourdough bread, freshly baked yeast bread, and coffee cake may. Pizza fans take note: any type of crackers or bread containing cheese may trigger migraines, including this Italian favorite. Stick with rice, barley, bulgur, millet, or quinoa. Corn meal and noodles are also not thought to be triggers.

  • Drinks to Dodge

    Drinks to Dodge

    Foods are not all you need to watch out for—some beverages can also be migraine triggers. Foods containing chocolate may lead to migraines in some people, so consider avoiding hot chocolate, cocoa, and chocolate milk. Caffeine is another possible trigger, even when consumed in small amounts. Therefore, you may need to restrict coffee and caffeinated tea from your diet. Be cautious about drinking alcoholic beverages as well, particularly beer, red wine, and sherry.

  • Suspect Sweets

    Suspect Sweets

    If you have a sweet tooth, dessert can be difficult to cut back on. However, you may need to eliminate certain sweets if you want to control your migraines. As mentioned, desserts containing chocolate or nuts—including chocolate ice cream, cake, pie, or cookies—could be a trigger. Steer clear of all dough or pastries containing yeast. It may not be on the top of your dessert list, but mincemeat pie in particular is thought to be another migraine trigger.

  • Practice “Head-Smart” Eating Habits

    Practice “Head-Smart” Eating Habits

    If you get migraines frequently, it can be hard to keep track of what might have triggered them. Keeping a food journal can help you create a record of your eating habits, which may help you determine if certain foods in your diet are migraine triggers. Simply write down everything you eat and drink for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—including snacks. Then after a migraine, you can look at your journal to see what you ate before your pain came on. For the tech-savvy: some smartphone apps are designed to keep a digital record.

  • Putting It All Together

    Putting It All Together

    Your food journal can be key to helping you avoid foods that trigger your migraines. In addition to tracking what you consume, you can also use your journal to note when and how often you eat. According to the University of California, Berkeley, skipping meals, low blood sugar, and fasting can all also lead to migraines. By paying attention to your food journal, you can learn to remove or reduce foods from your diet that trigger migraines, and see if your symptoms improve.

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