Track Your Foods

Track Your Foods

Could specific foods trigger your migraines? Here's a way to find out. As you track pain in your Journal each day, use a Note to track what you eat. After 2 weeks, look back and see if there's a connection between your pain and your plate.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: Pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea

Triggers:

Treatments:

Categories: Food

Duration

14

Using the Journal

If you already know some foods that lead to migraines when you eat them, make sure to enter them as triggers in your Journal. That way, if you ever eat some -- either on purpose or accidentally -- you can track the effect.

What about foods that you think might be triggers but aren't sure? Add them, too. After tracking any suspected food triggers along with your pain for a few weeks, you'll be able to see if there's a connection.

Prompt: Discover triggers.

CTA: Track triggers.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea

Triggers: skipped meal, being hungry, aged cheese, alcohol, aspartame, avocados, bacon, bananas, beans, being hungry, bologna, bouillon cubes, brewer's yeast, broad beans, buttermilk, caffeine, carob, chocolate, citrus fruits, cocoa, coffee cake, deli meat, dietary changes, doughnuts, dried fruit, figs, foods, garbanzo beans, ham, herring, hot chocolate, hot dogs, Italian beans, lemon, lentils, lima beans, lime, meat tenderizer, MSG, navy beans, nuts, olives, onions, orange, papaya, passion fruit, pea pods, peanut butter, peanuts, pepperoni, pickled foods, pickles, pinto beans, pole beans, raisins, red plums, red wine, sauerkraut, sausage, seasoned salt, snow peas, soup (canned), sour cream, sourdough bread, soy nuts, soy sauce, specific foods, wine

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

Hunger and Headaches

If you get migraines, keep your meal times regular. Skipping meals or fasting can sometimes cause a drop in blood sugar, and that can trigger a migraine. Eating balanced, healthy meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar on an even keel and help keep headaches at bay.

Try tracking not just what you eat but when you eat it in a Note. Find out if timing your meals makes a difference with your headaches.

Prompt: Eat regular meals.

CTA: Missed meals may trigger migraines.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea  

Triggers: skipped meal, being hungry, aged cheese, alcohol, aspartame, avocados, bacon, bananas, beans, being hungry, bologna, bouillon cubes, brewer's yeast, broad beans, buttermilk, caffeine, carob, chocolate, citrus fruits, cocoa, coffee cake, deli meat, dietary changes, doughnuts, dried fruit, figs, foods, garbanzo beans, ham, herring, hot chocolate, hot dogs, Italian beans, lemon, lentils, lima beans, lime, meat tenderizer, MSG, navy beans, nuts, olives, onions, orange, papaya, passion fruit, pea pods, peanut butter, peanuts, pepperoni, pickled foods, pickles, pinto beans, pole beans, raisins, red plums, red wine, sauerkraut, sausage, seasoned salt, snow peas, soup (canned), sour cream, sourdough bread, soy nuts, soy sauce, specific foods, wine

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

Watch Out for Wine

Could alcohol trigger your migraines? It might. Alcohol increases blood flow to your brain, potentially causing or worsening a headache. Beer, wine, and whiskey all seem to be common triggers -- especially red wine. That could be due to red wine's high levels of tyramine, an established migraine trigger.

By tracking any alcohol you drink in a Note, you can see if the amount -- or the type -- has an effect on your symptoms. If it does, add it to your trigger list so you can track it.

Prompt: Rethink your drink.

CTA: Alcohol can be a trigger.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea

Triggers: alcohol, red wine, wine

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

Ice Cream Headaches

Anyone can get a brain freeze -- a brief stab of pain in the forehead that comes with eating or drinking something cold. But for many people prone to migraines, a brain freeze can trigger a full-fledged attack. More than 90% of migraine sufferers say they have to be cautious with cold foods and drinks.

Make sure to record any icy drinks or foods in a Note -- see if they trigger your headaches. 

Prompt: Beware of brain freeze!

CTA: Watch for cold foods.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea  

Triggers:

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

Beware Cured Meats

If you have migraines, you may need to watch out for cured meats. Processed meats -- such as cold cuts, ham, hot dogs, sausage, and bacon -- have 2 strikes against them. They can contain both tyramine and food additives such as nitrites. Either can trigger migraines in some people.

Here's one sign that the trigger might be the meat. Headaches caused by food additives are sometimes felt on both sides of the head. Classic migraines strike one side at a time.

Prompt: Beware cured meats.

CTA: Processed eats trigger migraines.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea

Triggers: aged cheese, bacon, bologna, deli meat, dietary changes, ham, hot dogs, meat tenderizer, MSG, pepperoni, pickled foods, sausage, seasoned salt

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

Avoid Aged Cheeses

For some people, aged cheeses trigger migraines. The culprit may be a substance called tyramine -- the longer a cheese ages, the more tyramine it contains. Cheeses to consider avoiding include:

* Blue cheeses

* Brie

* Cheddar

* Feta

* Gorgonzola

* Mozzarella

* Muenster

* Parmesan

* Processed cheese

* Stilton

* Swiss

Remember that not all of these cheeses -- if any -- will necessarily be triggers for you. One way to find out is to use your Journal to track pain and potential triggers.

Prompt: No cheese, please!

CTA: Cheeses that trigger migraines.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea  

Triggers: skipped meal, being hungry, aged cheese

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

More Food Triggers

Watch for foods with migraine-triggering additives. Be cautious with:

* Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners

* Caffeine

* Cultured dairy products like sour cream or yogurt

* Dried fruits 

* MSG (monosodium glutamate)

* Potato chips

* Smoked fish

* Soups made from bouillon 

Prompt: Find food triggers.

CTA:  Know the likely suspects.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea  

Triggers: skipped meal, being hungry, aged cheese, alcohol, aspartame, avocados, bacon, bananas, beans, being hungry, bologna, bouillon cubes, brewer's yeast, broad beans, buttermilk, caffeine, carob, chocolate, citrus fruits, cocoa, coffee cake, deli meat, dietary changes, doughnuts, dried fruit, figs, foods, garbanzo beans, ham, herring, hot chocolate, hot dogs, Italian beans, lemon, lentils, lima beans, lime, meat tenderizer, MSG, navy beans, nuts, olives, onions, orange, papaya, passion fruit, pea pods, peanut butter, peanuts, pepperoni, pickled foods, pickles, pinto beans, pole beans, raisins, red plums, red wine, sauerkraut, sausage, seasoned salt, snow peas, soup (canned), sour cream, sourdough bread, soy nuts, soy sauce, specific foods, wine

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

Unhealthy Fats

Do fats help or hurt with migraines? That depends. Some studies have shown that lowering the amount of unhealthy fats in your diet may help reduce migraines.

On the flip side, the National Headache Foundation reports that getting more healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids may decrease migraines. Try adding more healthy fatty fish -- such as salmon, herring, and others with high levels of omega-3s -- to your dinner menu. Add Notes in your Journal to see if it helps with your symptoms.

Prompt: Cut fat, cut pain?

CTA: Reduce unhealthy fats.

Conditions: Migraine

Symptoms: exhaustion, aching, pain, throbbing pain, aura, scalp pain, pounding pain, pulsing pain, back of head headache, forehead headache, left side headache, right side headache, whole head headache, back of head pain, both sides of head pain, forehead pain, left side of head pain, right side of head pain, scalp pain, nausea

Triggers: skipped meal, being hungry, aged cheese, alcohol, aspartame, avocados, bacon, bananas, beans, being hungry, bologna, bouillon cubes, brewer's yeast, broad beans, buttermilk, caffeine, carob, chocolate, citrus fruits, cocoa, coffee cake, deli meat, dietary changes, doughnuts, dried fruit, figs, foods, garbanzo beans, ham, herring, hot chocolate, hot dogs, Italian beans, lemon, lentils, lima beans, lime, meat tenderizer, MSG, navy beans, nuts, olives, onions, orange, papaya, passion fruit, pea pods, peanut butter, peanuts, pepperoni, pickled foods, pickles, pinto beans, pole beans, raisins, red plums, red wine, sauerkraut, sausage, seasoned salt, snow peas, soup (canned), sour cream, sourdough bread, soy nuts, soy sauce, specific foods, wine

Treatments: dietary changes

Categories: Food

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on May 25, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

National Headache Foundation: "Fish Oils."

Vanderbilt University: "Meal Ideas and Menus: Avoiding High Tyramine Foods Made Easy."

Frese A. Neurology, 2003.

Frese, A. Cephalalgia, 2007.

Blau, J. Headache, May 2004.

Stankewitz, A. Neurology, July 2011.

National Headache Foundation: "Hypoglycemia," "Smoking," "Alcohol and Headaches," "Nitrites/Nitrates."

Schurks, M. Current Pain Headache Report, April 2008.

Mukamal, K. Neurology, March 10, 2009.

Mukamal, K.J., Neurology, March 10, 2008.

Cleveland Clinic: "Rebound Headaches."

UC Berkeley, University Health Services: "Tension Headache Fact Sheet."

Cathcart, S. Cephalalgia, October 2010.

Millea, P. American Family Physician, September 2002.

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