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How can I Avoid Hospital Food Triggers?

Every time I go to the hospital, I end up with a Migraine attack. I have multiple health issues, so this can be a big problem for me. After lots of failures, I now know that planning is the key to avoid such mishaps. After all, Migraine is a chronic condition for me. A little investment in time is well worth it!

I used to think that, while in the hospital, I had no choice but to eat the food they handed me, whatever it might be. I have a few allergies, but a number of sensitivities and triggers. One of the worst is MSG — it is one of my major triggers. Hospital food is often replete with boxed and pre-prepared ingredients, nearly all of which contain MSG in one form or another. So I had to learn to get around this problem.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Know your food triggers and any other triggers that might present a problem in the hospital. You may want to type them up and put them in a plastic sleeve so they can be seen at a glance, even if you’re in too much pain to think straight or speak. If your list of *have-nots* is really long, consider printing a list of things you CAN have instead.
  2. Tell your doctor you are extremely food sensitive, and that you would like to be allowed to bring your own food with you or that you would like to be put on a special diet while there. If you are pre-admitting this can also be done at that time. Food is part of your hospital stay, but for me that’s okay — I usually have a hungry visitor ready to gobble it up if it’s something I can’t have.
  3. Talk to the nurse on duty and explain that you must be very careful what you eat. Usually the first meal you are served is something they have picked out for you, so if they know this well in advance, you can both work together to plan it.
  4. Ask for food that is ‘unseasoned’ made completely from scratch (no boullion cubes etc), or comes in parts — like a salad from which you can pick off potential triggers like cabbage and dressing. Most hospitals can give you any number of fresh fruit and veggie choices most any time, as well as popsicle or juice bars and pre-packaged juice drinks.
  5. Pack a goodie bag full of healthy things you can eat as well as serving utensils and other supplies. Creating a list of these things ahead of time (in another plastic sleeve) makes it easy to pack when you need it. Remember can openers, zippered storage bags and a Sharpie pen to mark things that need to be saved for later. Think of this as your Migraine picnic basket.
  6. A small cooler is often a great idea. Many times a nurse will offer to put your items in the communal fridge, but not always, so this allows you to have chilled items at hand whenever you want them.

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


  • Caleilani Ronnell Venditti
    8 years ago

    I’m on beta blockers and my migraines are not that intense as they were before.

  • Teri-Robert
    9 years ago

    Great post. I’m sure it will be helpful to lots of people.

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