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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Oh My Aching Head!

I was debating about what to write about today when I overheard someone say, “I have the worst headache.” Headaches can be brought on by a lot of things (eye strain, stress, holiday shopping!). But did you know that foods and beverages can also be triggers? Take the following quiz to test your knowledge (the answers are below):

1. Which of the following foods can cause a headache?
a) Salami
b) Mixed nuts
c) Aged cheese
d) Beer
e) All of the above

2. Which of the following drinks can bring on that throbbing pain?
a) Coffee
b) Apple juice
c) Tea
d) Red wine
e) All of the above

3. Which of the following behaviors can lead to headaches:
a) Eating chocolate when you're stressed out
b) Skipping lunch
c) Wacky water intakes (lots on one day, little the next)
d) Going cold turkey on caffeine
e) All of the above

ANSWER 1. If you answered E, you're right. Aged meats and cheeses as well as nuts and beer are known headache triggers. If you're a headache sufferer, try eliminating these foods first and track any changes in either the frequency or severity of your headaches.

ANSWER 2. You guessed it, all of these beverages can be triggers. If you experience chronic or severe headaches, try sticking to plain water with lemon and monitor your symptoms.

ANSWER 3. E it is once again. Substances called tannins in chocolate can be a trigger, as well as skipping meals and fluid fluctuations. And anyone who drinks coffee has probably experienced the wrath of caffeine withdrawal. If you are trying to cut back on caffeine, wean yourself gradually to prevent severe headaches.

The best tool for determining your personal triggers and patterns is a food journal. You can use one to track what you eat, how much, what time, and your symptoms. You might find that you can't go longer than 5 hours without eating before experience a mild headache. If so, set your cell phone alarm or create a pop-up on your computer screen reminding you to eat.

And last but not least, strive for consistency with your water intake. Doing so can go a long way to prevent dehydration, which can cause fatigue, trouble concentrating, and headaches. A 100% headache free life probably isn’t realistic (especially this time of year), but knowing your triggers (and planning ahead) can definitely help!
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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