Expert Answer: Food cravings & migraines

Question: How can I manage my food cravings during a migraine attack?

Food cravings are a “normal” part of a Migraine for many people. The only way to stop the cravings is to stop the Migraine. Even then, many of us will have food cravings during the postdrome phase after the rest of the Migraine has passed.

Since there’s no real way to stop the cravings, the best option we have is to keep healthy foods on hand that can satisfy the cravings. Examples:

  • If you crave salty potato chips, try some of the baked chips that have less fat.
  • If it’s just salty foods you crave, try some pretzels or air-popped popcorn.
  • If you crave chocolate, will a small “snack size” candy bar satisfy your craving? Or perhaps a cup of hot chocolate? There are also some fairly healthy snack bars available with chocolate and under 100 calories. This is, of course, if chocolate is not a Migraine trigger for you.
  • If you crave sweets in general, try some fresh fruit or fruit packed in fruit juice with no sugar added.
  • If you crave protein, a piece of low fat cheese may be a good choice.

The biggest challenge of food cravings is if you crave a food that’s a Migraine trigger for you. When that’s the case, it’s important to find something that’s not a trigger that you can substitute for it.

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.

Comments

View Comments (31)
  • sheepwriter
    3 years ago

    Potato chips….just give me the whole bag. I didn’t realize it was part of the prodrome until I read it here…thanks!

  • SisterLilBunny
    4 years ago

    I needed to read this today, thank you!! I had seriously BAD cravings last night/this morning for peanut butter. We’re talking if I didn’t leave for work I’d probably still be spooning out of the jar/starting into a new jar. This happened a few weeks ago too but I couldn’t find anything in relation to craving peanut butter. Backing it off to food cravings and tada, here you guys are! It’s nice to feel normal. 🙂

  • Alexandre Boudreau
    7 years ago

    good to know I’m not the only one with cravings during migraines. I usually need fatty/salty foods – or sometimes extremely sweet. It’s really odd but it tends to help when I do follow the craving.

  • Lisa Schroeder
    7 years ago

    My only issue is the prodromal phae. I usually can figure out a migraine is coming if I NEED chinese food. Something about the massive amount of carbs and sugars is a comfort for me pre-migraine. On the other hand, low-carb eating in general tends to give me many less migraines, so I’m torn.

  • Lisa Schroeder
    7 years ago

    They don’t go away, still. I am extremely’low carb these days, which is the only thing that keeps them from being a constant. 😉

  • Tara Felicio-Duratz
    7 years ago

    Since getting rid of all my triggers, many food, not eating when I should or staying hydrated and getting enough sleep, all the weather and hormonal ones are about gone or so “light” that I can function. All the food you described would give me a bad one lol, corn, soy, gluten, sugar, etc. Also upped vitamin b, mag, and more. Good luck with yours, lucky you the bad/good foods make them go away!

  • Lisa Schroeder
    7 years ago

    Like right now, the winds kicked up, and my head and sight are going wonky, and if I had a cheesesteak, pizza, nachos with everything, or dumplings in front of, they would be gone. Thankfully, we have nothing good (BAD!) in the house right now.

  • Lisa Schroeder
    7 years ago

    Tara Felicio-Duratz , I don’t want soy at all. I want pork dumplings and a ton of fried eggrolls… fried rice. uagr+fat+carbs. msg and chinese food do not trigger any migraines in me. I don’t have food triggers, really ..just weather and hormones and muscular, and sleep ones..lol

  • Tara Felicio-Duratz
    7 years ago

    Soy is one of my big triggers, interesting that you want it!

  • Betty Jo Schroeder
    7 years ago

    How about the MSG..A lot of the Chinese restaurants still use it.. I am alergic to MSG and havve to tell them not to use it..

  • Shellye Horn Townsend
    8 years ago

    Interesting…

  • Bonna Mullaly
    8 years ago

    Geez – had no idea those cravings were part of the migraine. If I have bad nausea and take phenergran for it, then usually the cravings come on hard – and I feel like I’m starving. I always thought, well, whatever I’m wanting might help my migraine…..I want to lose weight – but I don’t care about that when a migraine attacks – I just want it gone.

  • Chad Zehner
    8 years ago

    My Post IIH/PTC 10/10 migraine consist of a major craving for a BK double cheese burger, dunno why but it’s real yo!

  • Chad Zehner
    8 years ago

    I will keep that in mind:-) I forget sometimes that everyone has a different reason for migraines( different types ) I been suffering since I was 5 with PTC/IIH and I loose my way sometimes and my high ICP makes me talk and act like a butt head! lol Sorry again and Thank You Cheryl 🙂 Hope you have a great weekend!

  • Cheryl L Yepez Hall
    8 years ago

    Try just eating very small amounts of saltless crackers, one bite at a time. Give it try it may just help you. I myself have the fear of a major stroke but i will not let these darn migraines win!! Give my suggestion a try let us all know how you do. Not offended at all……hey us migraine sufferers have every right to express how unfair and defeated we feel at times. Best of luck to you!!

  • Chad Zehner
    8 years ago

    you are right, everyone is different! I am glad you can motor through some food while sick to give you a few min’s of relief…. if only I could do that it would be much easier for me… I must stay away from eating while a migraine is in progress because I can not risk throwing up with my already high ICP if fear and high risk of another major stroke! Sorry If I offended anyone, did not mean to be that blunt and disrespectful!

  • Cheryl L Yepez Hall
    8 years ago

    Sorry but that is not the case with me. I can eat during a full blown migraine. Along with so many others. Everyone is different and this is wrong of you to say.

  • Chad Zehner
    8 years ago

    But during a 10/10 Migraine, I can not eat..talk, etc! people who say they have a migraine and can eat, be online and so on to me are NOT experiencing a Real Migraine!!!!!

  • Maureen Gallagher
    8 years ago

    I don’t usually have a food craving during a migrine (been suffering for the past 39 years) but I do get very hungry in general once the migriane has past.

  • Kathi Lorber Bleen
    8 years ago

    In the misdt of a migraine, laying in the dark with my ice packed head praying for relief. That is when I often start to think of food. I wonder if it’s because I’m deficient in something that is actually causing the migraine.The wondering: why, what, when? The constant search for answers by migrainuers.

  • Karen Klein Crow
    8 years ago

    My cravings also tend to cone BEFORE the headache – and frequently, I crave peanut butter, which is a trigger for me (I have yet to find a suitable substitute for me though). I also crave hard, crunchy things.

  • Kathi Lorber Bleen
    8 years ago

    Believe me I can completely relate down the supplement path. Some work, but nothing works for very long. The worst is having your hopes built up and then to find yourself back at start.

  • Dawn Franke
    8 years ago

    I wonder about a defiency as well. It feels like the body is searching for something it needs, but you don’t know what it is. My cravings come before the headache, so it feels like I might be able to prevent it if only I can find what my body is lacking. I’ve been taking of supplements, hoping to fill the gap.

  • Elise Fisher
    8 years ago

    Make that appetite, not apperture lol…. Sorry about the typos, still getting used to this touch screen…

  • Elise Fisher
    8 years ago

    Rebekka: thepost is in reference to the almost ravenous aperture and cravings some migraine sufferers hVe After a migraine headache aubsides. Not during the actual migraine when most of us, like you, suffer from nausea. At least that has been my experience and ho I interpreted the post. Hope that helps…

  • Jennifer Zordich Small
    8 years ago

    Wow…my cravings for sweets is real…makes me feel a little better!

  • Oliver P. Smoochie
    8 years ago

    Mom wrote that from my account on accident lol

  • Jennifer Zordich Small
    8 years ago

    Oliver, you truly are one happy pup!

  • Migraine.com
    8 years ago

    Teri Robert provides some helpful recommendations for managing food cravings during a migraine attack.

  • Julie Cross
    8 years ago

    Skittles taste the same both ways as well! Sad thing to know. 🙁

  • Rebekka Colgan Smith
    8 years ago

    I can’t even think about eating when I have a migraine – I am fighting nausea’s the whole time, and I know anything that goes down is coming right back up. I have learn that pepsi taste almostt as good coming up as it did going down

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