The best way to figure out what foods cause your migraines is to keep careful track of what you eat. Just because you eat a food right before a migraine doesn’t necessarily mean it was the cause. It’s important to see patterns.
It’s often thought of as a trigger, but some studies suggest chocolate may not cause migraines and may even help prevent them. It might be that people crave chocolate just before getting a migraine, and that’s what gives it a bad rap.
Java can be both good and bad. An occasional cup -- once or twice a week -- may help prevent migraines. But if you have a daily caffeine habit, it may not be as helpful. In fact, skipping your morning coffee could become a trigger.
MSG: Monosodium Glutamate
This staple of so much Asian cooking bestows a certain savory flavor foodies call “umami.” Some people blame it for their migraines. There are some studies that back this up, but others do not.
Beer on tap has about 25 times the migraine-inducing tyramine as beer in bottles. So if you really want a cold one, ask for a bottle. Or change it up and order a bourbon. It doesn’t have any of the stuff. But know that any kind of alcohol can be a trigger for some people.
This is widely thought to be a trigger, but an Italian study involving more than 300 people found no connection between migraines and red wine. So it may not be the vino. Unless you drink the whole bottle -- then a headache might be the least of your problems.
Do you like that eye-tearing sharp cheddar or stinky aged brie? Both are likely to have high levels of tyramine, a substance linked to migraines. Milder cheeses, like mozzarella and ricotta, are fine, though.
Cured meats are also high in migraine-linked tyramine, so if you crave a hunk of red meat, go for a burger or steak instead. Not everyone is sensitive to tyramine, so if you know it doesn’t affect you, go ahead and order that salami sandwich!
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American Headache Society Committee for Headache Education: “Caffeine and Migraine,” “Controversies in Headache Medicine: Migraine Prevention Diets.”
PubMed: “A double-blind provocative study of chocolate as a trigger of headache," “Foods and supplements in the management of migraine headaches.”
Vanderbilt University: “Avoiding High-Tyramine Foods Made Easy.”