Get Migraines? Find Your Food Triggers
Is Food Causing Your Migraine? Here's How to Find Out
For a food to be considered a trigger, it should regularly give you a headache within 12 to 24 hours.
"If I drink wine with dinner, I usually feel fine when I go to bed," Ford says. "But my head is often pounding when I wake up."
The surest way to pinpoint your food triggers is to keep a diary. You can use a notebook or one of the many migraine apps out there. Most people have more than one trigger. So, you'll have the most success if you track long enough to take notes on 20 to 30 migraine attacks, Rosen says.
Once you've found what foods might be causing your migraines, remove them from your diet for a month, one at a time. Keep track of how often you have headaches and how bad they are. If there's no change, that food alone may not be the trigger. If there is a change, avoid eating it, especially when your risk of getting a migraine is high. In women, for example, this might be during certain times in their menstrual cycle.
If keeping a diary isn't your thing but you're willing to make changes to your diet, experts advise eating food that's as wholesome, fresh, and unprocessed as possible. That'll help you get rid of many of the supposed chemical triggers. It’s the closest thing there is to a migraine-prevention diet.
Consistency Is Key
Another benefit to tracking what you eat is that it may reveal that you get a headache when you don't eat or drink regularly.
"Skipping meals and dehydration are both significant triggers," Rosen says. "We know this from what's called 'Yom Kippur headache' or 'first day of Ramadan headache,' since both events require fasting."
Experts recommend that everyone eat five or six small meals throughout the day. But this is extra important if you have regular migraines. Studies show it can reduce headaches. As a bonus, it fires up your metabolism and prevents weight gain, another link to migraines.