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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 before, you’re probably motivated to do whatever you can to avoid having another. Migraines can cause an intense pulsing or throbbing sensation, often on one side or part of your head. They can also cause other unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound. 

    You may be able to lower your chances of experiencing migraine symptoms by adjusting your eating habits. Click through this slideshow to learn how to avoid common triggers in your diet.

  • Hit-and-miss triggers

    Hit-and-miss triggers

    Certain types of foods and drinks may trigger migraines in some people. Some of those foods and drinks may be regular triggers for you. Or they may only occasionally cause symptoms. Something that triggered a migraine for you last month might not cause the same reaction again.

  • Meat and dairy triggers

    Meat and dairy triggers

    Several types of meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products might trigger migraines, due in part to their tyramine and/or nitrate content. Processed meats, including canned, aged, or cured meats, are among the top culprits. To be safe, considering avoiding hot dogs, bologna, sausage, pepperoni, and salami. Cultured dairy products, such as sour cream or buttermilk, may also induce migraines. Popular cheeses, such as cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, and provolone, can trigger symptoms in some people.

  • Fruit and veggie triggers

    Fruit and veggie triggers

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

  • Beware of these breads

    Beware of these breads

    Most types of commercial bread aren’t known to bring on migraines. However, sourdough bread and freshly baked yeast bread may trigger symptoms. Any type of cracker or bread product that contains cheese, such as pizza, may also raise your risk of migraines. Rice, barley, bulgur, millet, quinoa, and corn-based products aren’t thought to be triggers.

  • Drinks to dodge

    Drinks to dodge

    Foods aren’t the only things you need to watch out for. Some beverages can also bring on migraines. Products that contain chocolate might trigger migraines for you, so consider avoiding hot chocolate, cocoa, and chocolate milk. Caffeine is another possible trigger, even when you consume it in small amounts, so you may need to limit your consumption of coffee and caffeinated tea. 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. Desserts containing chocolate or nuts, including chocolate ice cream, cake, pie, or cookies, might be triggers. Mincemeat pie is thought to be a particularly common culprit. You may also experience fewer migraines if you steer clear of dough and pastry products that contain yeast, such as coffee cake.

  • Practice “head-smart” eating habits

    Practice “head-smart” eating habits

    It can be hard to track what might have triggered your migraines. Keeping a food journal can help you create a record of your eating habits. This can help you learn if certain foods in your diet seem to trigger migraine symptoms.

    Simply write down everything you eat and drink for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks every day. Then, after each migraine, look at your journal to see what you ate before your pain came on. For a tech-savvy solution, some smartphone apps allow you to keep a digital record.

  • Put it all together

    Put it all together

    Keeping a food journal can help you learn if any foods or drinks seem to cause your migraine symptoms. In addition to tracking what you consume, you can also use your journal to note when and how often you eat. Low-blood sugar, skipped meals, and fasting may also lead to migraines. By paying close attention to your food choices and habits, you can learn how to remove or reduce migraine triggers in your diet.