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Fighting Food-Related Headaches

Are your favorite snacks to blame for migraine headaches?

Identify Your Triggers continued...

If you decide to try a headache diary, be diligent in recording what you eat, particularly aged cheese and foods containing additives, as well as the following possible dietary triggers:

  • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) and other artificial sweeteners; foods with meat tenderizers or yeast or yeast extracts
  • Caffeine in even in small amounts can trigger a migraine in some people
  • Chocolate, cocoa, and foods containing nuts
  • Alcoholic beverages especially red wine, beer, and sherry
  • Aged, canned, cured, or processed meats such as chicken livers and other organ meats, and sardines. Also foods prepared with nitrates or tyramine can cause problems.
  • Cultured dairy products such as sour cream or buttermilk
  • Dried fruits including figs, raisins, and dates
  • Breads and crackers containing cheese including pizza
  • Cheese: Blue, Gouda, Gruyere, provolone, and Stilton
  • Smoked or dried fish
  • Canned soups, or soups made from bouillon or based with MSG

While you may be able to identify and avoid triggers on your own, consider getting help if your headaches don't improve. "If you find yourself losing time from social activities or work, or if your headaches persist over several days, see a doctor," Diamond says. "There are medications to relieve [food-induced] headaches, so no one should suffer without help."

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