Migraine Foods to Avoid List – Overview
Migraine is a neurological disease that causes headaches with pulsing sensations. Migraine is often accompanied by uneasiness, nausea, and sensitivity to sound and light.(1) Your diet can have a huge effect on your condition.
Many food items contain substances that can increase the frequency of migraine attacks. Not eating your food at the right time or skipping your meals can cause migraines. Obesity is another factor that can increase the risk of developing migraines.
How to Track Your Migraine?
There are multiple factors that can cause migraine. The experts always recommend maintaining a migraine diary to keep track of your health.
- The time of your migraine attack. The duration and intensity of the symptoms.
- The contents and the timing of your drinks and your meals.
- Your sleeping patterns
- Your menstrual records
- Your medical history
- Your stress level
- Any record of exposure to any bright stimuli, bright lighting, and screen.
How to Tell if Your Food Is Triggering Migraine?
There are 4 things that can help you to understand if your food is triggering migraine.
If you have a migraine attack within 12 to 24 hours of any particular food item or a drink, they may have the ability to trigger your migraine. The onset of your migraine attack can be 20 minutes.
If you feel any particular food item to be your trigger, try to avoid it for at least four weeks. In the meantime, you must track your migraine and see if there is any change.
3. Focused Approach
You must be careful while eliminating any food items or drinks from your regular diet. It can make the situation worse. Try to eliminate one food at a time and give your body enough time to adjust to the new diet plan.
4. Special Consideration
The food elimination process does not apply to children and any pregnant women. You must take professional advice before changing your diet to avoid any imbalance or deficiency in the body.
9 Food Items That Can Trigger Migraine
There are multiple food items that can trigger your migraine.
Alcohol is the most commonly reported trigger for migraine. Around 30% of people with migraine consider alcohol as a trigger. Substances like histamine, sulfites, and tyramine are present in some alcoholic drinks. These substances can increase the attack in your body. Alcohol can dilate the blood vessels in your body and can cause migraine.
According to some studies, chocolate can trigger migraine attacks in around 42% of their subjects. 20% of individuals with migraines consider chocolate as their trigger. Chocolate contains beta-phenylethylamine. It is an organic compound that can stimulate your brain and the central nervous system.
Aged cheese has the amino acid tyramine. It can regulate the blood pressure of your body. This is found in food items like mozzarella, cheddar, blue cheese, etc.
4. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners including aspartame can increase the migraine attack. These types of sweeteners are mostly found in calorie-free drinks like diet coke.
Food items like cakes, donuts, bread, and any fresh baked goods contain yeast. They can trigger your migraines.
6. Monosodium Glutamate
It is a flavor enhancer that is used in multiple proceed food items lie canned foods or frozen foods, snacks, fast food, potato chips, soups, instant noodles, seasoning, and many more.
7. Processed Meats
Processed meat like ham, sausage, bacon, and deli meats may contain nitrates and nitrites. They can trigger your migraine attacks. Most people experience head pain after consuming processed meats. Make sure to check the ingredients list before buying any processed meat from the market.
8. Nuts and Seeds
Some specific nuts and seeds including peanuts and almonds contain tyramine. It is a trigger element for migraine attacks. However, not everyone who has migraines is allergic to nuts.
Caffeine can trigger migraine in some people. Fluctuation levels of caffeine can affect the dilation of your blood vessels and cause headaches. Some research studies suggest that caffeine intake can cause migraine in many people.
Other Food Items That Can Trigger Your Migraine
There are multiple other foods that can trigger your migraines.
- Cultured dairy
- Red plums
- Chicken liver
- Organ meats
- Sour cream
- Dried fruits like raisins, figs, and dates
- Beans like lentils, snow peas, fava, navy, pinto, lima, and garbanzo
- Potato chips
- Pickled foods like sauerkraut and olives
- Tomato based products
- Dried or smoked fish
7 Things to Remember
- Food items that contain omega-3 fatty acids are good for migraine prevention.
- A ketogenic diet can be beneficial for people with migraine.
- You should maintain a regular schedule for your meals of the day.
- You can eat five small meals every day. Pair proteins and carbs in your diet to stay satiated.
- Emphasize fresh vegetables, foods, and lean proteins.
- Avoid eating packaged food and salt.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
When You Should Seek Professional Help?
If you have a migraine, you may need to seek professional help occasionally.
If you are experiencing any of the conditions below, you must seek professional help:
- Visual disturbance
- Difficulty talking
- Difficulties in coordinating movement
- Headache hurts worse than before
- Losing balance
- Headache sets on rapidly
If you have a migraine and you are under medication, call your doctor in these situations:
- Your headaches are getting worse
- The medications are not working effectively
- Your medications have different side effects
- You need to take pain medications three or more than three times a week
- Headaches get worse when you lie down or lean over
Migraines are very unpredictable most times. If you can find a way to control your condition, it can help you to cope with it. Coping with migraine means you have to understand the trigger points and a way to prevent migraine attacks.
You can talk to your doctor and figure out a way to live a healthy life with migraine.
1. Cuevas F. Acute headache in adults. Doctorable, 2022. Available on https://www.doctorable.com/acute-headache-in-adults.html, accessed (1.21.2023)