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A Balanced Diet -Living with Migraines

There are over 60 triggers to a headache, and not eating may have twice the impact (57%) then the actual foods you eat (27%). Spikes in blood sugar levels may trigger migraines; therefore, eating 3 regular meals, as well as snacks spaced out throughout the day can help prevent migraines.

Following a few simple steps by planning out quick meals can keep you ahead of your migraine triggers. It can also help you make the best food choices, including eating more fresh and less processed foods so you can eat healthily while timing your meals appropriately.

This will keep you feeling satisfied and prevent overeating. Having a difficult time fitting in regular meals? Read, planning meals to decrease meal timing triggers

A helpful guide in learning how to follow a well-balanced diet is MyPlate, the healthy eating guide made by the United States Department of Agriculture and found at MyPlate.gov. Here are some general principles to follow:

  • Think of your plate containing four sections: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins
  • Fruits and vegetables should fill half the plate and grains and protein should fill the other half of the plate
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that offer an array of colors to ensure a range of nutrients.
  • Go lean with protein. Choose protein options such as beans, omega-3 rich seafood, lean meats like skinless chicken or turkey, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Avoid processed meats that contain nitrates, like most lunchmeats or hotdogs.
  • MyPlate suggests making at least half of your grains, whole. Why not aim for more since whole grains fuel your body and provide the needed nutrients to combat chronic disease? Start your day with oatmeal or include more whole grains with whole wheat lavash bread/pita, corn tortillas or brown rice. Include low-fat dairy, (ideally RgBh free or organic) at some meals, with skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Many of the Greek yogurts contain less added sugar. Always choose reduced fat or low-fat cheese. If you do not consume dairy products include other sources of calcium like fortified soy milk, fortified orange juice, kale or broccoli.
  • Limit salts, solid fats, and added sugars. Choose heart healthy oils, like grape seed, olive or canola oil (for canola choose organic or Non-GMO) and limit the amounts you use when cooking.
  • Balance your calories by enjoying your foods while eating in moderation — avoid oversized portions.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • Move your body. Balance your food intake and physical activity.

Not sure what an appropriate meal plan looks like? Check out this schedule:

  • Eat 3 meals a day with 1-2 snacks in between, trying to eat about every 4 hours: 8 am, 12 am, 3 pm, 6 pm (or whatever time works with your schedule)

Breakfast:

  • 1 cup Whole grain cereal
  • ½ cup fat free milk
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 tsp fat free tub margarine

Or:

  • 1 (8 inch) flour tortilla
  • 1 scrambled egg
  • ⅓ cup black beans or kidney beans
  • 1 cup honeydew melon
  • 1 cup herbal tea

Lunch:

Sandwich:

  • 3 ounces sliced lean turkey breast
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices tomato
  • ¼ cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • ½ ounce low-fat cheese or a couple slices of avocado

Beverage: 1 cup water, coffee, or tea (unlimited throughout the day)

Snack:

  • 3 tbsp hummus with ½ cup baby carrots

Dinner:

  • Spinach lasagna roll-ups:1 cup lasagna noodle (2 oz dry)
  • ½ cup cooked spinach
  • ½ cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 ounce whole wheat roll
  • 1 tsp tub margarine (make sure it contains no hydrogenated fats and utilizes mostly, canola or olive oil in ingredients verses palm oil)
  • Beverage: 1 cup fat-free milk

Snack

  • Apple slices
  • An ounce of walnuts or almonds (if they are not a migraine trigger)

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

1 The triggers or precipitants of the acute migraine attack” Cephalalgia 2007; 27:394–402. London. ISSN 0333-1024 – 2 http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/Sample_Menus-2000Cals-DG2010.pdf – 3 http://www.nationalpainfoundation.org/articles/513/nutrition-and-headaches

Comments

  • Carla Dul
    8 years ago

    as a working mom of 4 super busy kids I am one of theose that eats what I can fit in with everything else going on. I admit I don’t eat the worlds most healthiest but I do try to eat/make at least 2 healthy meals a day. plus like Sheila… I cant give up my die coke. that would cause a major headache and I HAVE to have plently of sugars in my system at all times because I am hypoglaucemic.

  • Sheila Crislip
    8 years ago

    I would love to follow this diet but I can’t because I still live at home with my mom dad and my daughter any suggestions I eat what they fix I have the same kind of problems with the other meds I take they upset my stomach and I don’t want to eat and I can’t give up on pepsi because I get caffene headaches. I’m a complete mess. help me please.

  • Monika Rich
    8 years ago

    I also deal with Gastoperisis besides Migranes , so I had to see a Dietican to help me deal with all my isusses and she was real helpful in giving me Ideas and also helped in planning what to eat.And for the Nausea I take medicine and it does work, just ask your Dr for it.

  • Kathy Jo Horton Bishop
    8 years ago

    article would work great for some but I’ve so many food allergies and food triggers it is hard to meet these guidelines….plus I deal with so much gastric stasis as part of my chronic migraines if I ate that much that often…I’d be vomiting all the time…I’ve tried to eat that often doesn’t digest…any suggestions?

  • Linda Peters
    8 years ago

    If you feel nauseated all/most of the time, eating regular meals isn’t a viable option. Do you have a suggestion to help with that?

  • Tammy Balint Kowalski
    8 years ago

    And, I’m very hungry right now but, don’t know what to eat! This article definately caught my eye at the right time! Need a little more help then the couple of recipes that were put up……Please!

  • Tammy Balint Kowalski
    8 years ago

    I agree with Linda and Daniell. I give it all I can to eat regular meals but, most of the time I’m also nauseated with an upset stomach. I force myself to eat soemthing every few hours but, its just not enough. Lack of appetite doesn’t help. And, my acid reflux prevents me from eatting most fruits and vegatables. I’m very fustrated when it comes to food. I would just love a good meal for once that won’t trigger a migraine of the acid reflux. And, did I mention I’m lactose intolerant! Sorry, its been a terrilble day with lots of pain and severe vertigo

  • Danielle Howell
    8 years ago

    Linda, I agree with you. I would love to eat regular meals but I find that I am just not hungry and in fact the migraines and the medicine itself has my stomach upset most of the day.

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