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The elimination diet

Has anyone ever tried this to see if he/she can better identify Migraine triggers? Did it work for you? I’m thinking of trying this but am not sure I’m sold on this approach. Feedback would be really useful if you’ve got a chance to give me some. Relevant websites would also be most helpful.

Thank you!

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.


  • Babakaiff
    4 years ago

    As I was on the waiting list to see a neurologist about my migraines I took matters in to my own hands and saw a naturalpath. Not too sure if this makes a difference but I live in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

    My first visit with the naturalpath she asked if I was willing to do a hypoallergenic diet. I agreed not realizing the impact it would have on my life.

    The short of it was I was not allowed to eat the following food for 4 weeks :
    All gluten
    Soy beans and soy products
    Peanuts, pistachio, cashews
    Corn, nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper)
    All dairy products
    Beef, pork, eggs, shell fish, catfish
    Regular table salt
    Refined oila
    All sweeteners
    Fruit drinks with refined sweeteners

    It was tough, mentally and physically. Once I was able to re introduce food we found my triggers are in everything that is a manufactured food.

    I still have menses, and other random migraines,but I know now that the food I eat will effect me and for that I am thankful. I feel somewhat in control of my migraines.

    I have been on propranolol, topiramate, frova and they are all effecting me negatively. Now we are attempting botox and I’m going to inquire about getting my green card (I am a welder by trade and am subject to random drug testing for employment).

    All in all the elimination diet has been the best thing for my migraines. I have all the paperwork my naturalpath gave me if anyone is interested I can pass it along to you. It’s a long road, and you will have a hell of a time breaking the relationship you have with food. It is truly for the better. And I lost 40 lbs just by changing my diet. Bonus!

  • chebbot
    5 years ago

    My doctor just had me start. She wants me to eliminate anything with sugar…It’s amazing how many things have it and you don’t realize. Pasta sauce, bread, cheerios!, peanut butter. I can’t find a cereal without it. Its helping me eat healthier — most processed foods have it, and I had a wicked sweet tooth so no more cookie binges. It’s been three weeks, and at first it seemed to help but lately I’ve been doing pretty bad. There’s just too many factors to know.

    I’m cutting back on gluten and eventually eliminating it to see if that helps also. I just have to make sure I’m eating enough. With so many limitations, I get lazy. When I don’t feel good, the last thing I want to do is cook, and with the nausea it’s hard to eat regularly. I feel like this might back fire on me because hunger is a big trigger for me.

  • Diana Lee
    12 years ago

    I did it about a year ago, working with my acupuncturist. It was useful, but I didn’t have any kind of epiphany from it. I learned some things that I’m sensitive to, which I avoid eating in combination. I also stopped consuming artificial sweeteners, which was a positive change for me.

    I have major issues with some of the information in this book, but it does have a comprehensive list of items to avoid in an elimination diet – Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain – and some other helpful content.

    I haven’t used it myself, but you might check out this book – The Headache Prevention Cookbook.

    I’m no expert, but I think everyone should try the elimination diet just to see what they can do to make their lives a little less painful. I never expect major changes, but they do happen for some lucky people.

  • Kelly F
    12 years ago


    I love your blog. I have tried an elimation diet and it did seem to work. Are you referring to avoiding migraine triggers or an overall elimination diet? The elimination diet I did was under the direction of a naturopath and she had me eating very few foods and I couldn’t stick to it. I eliminated dairy, gluten, coffee, preservatives, and many other things. I am about to do it again as my current drug regimen has failed yet again and I’m sick of being a guinea pig for neurologists. So tomorrow I’m going to eliminate dairy, wheat, sugar and yeast. I also avoid almost all of the known migraine triggers such as citrus, chocolate, alcohol, etc. and I will continue to avoid those foods. I highly recommend trying the elimination diet–just know it’s hard and it might take you awhile to get used to it and stick to it. I’m still trying and it’s been 2 years!

  • deborah
    12 years ago

    As a matter of fact, yes, I have tried it. I was rather SLAMMED into it when I was in-patient at a Migraine Hospital. As with anything, go slow. journal. Some foods can take up to 24-48 hours before you reach a trigger point. Then, you may have a food that produces no trigger one day, and suddenly, out of the blue, BAM you get hit!! Good luck. Have you tried Co Enzyme Q10? I have been on for 1 year, and it is improving my situation. It has taken the year to reach my potential thus far.

  • Kerrie
    12 years ago

    The book that people rave about is called Heal Your Headaches. The lists of what to avoid and what you can eat are pretty good, but the author can be terribly condescending and is downright wrong in some places. Still, it’s a good way to get started on a diet. (My library carries it, so you might find it at yours.)

    The main components to avoid are tannins, MSG, tyramine, nitrates/nitrites. Wikipedia seems to have good basic information about them. But a headache diet book is an easier way to get the information.

    All that said, none of the elimination diets I tried actually helped me find triggers. I eventually learned that legumes are major triggers for me, but that was purely trial and error.

    However, with elimination diets as a guide, I cut out MSG, nearly all food additives, soy sauces and such. That may or may not help my headaches, but I’ve stuck with it because I don’t want to eat so much junk. I’ve also now eat “real” food, nothing processed, just simple things.

    I hope this helps and that you’re able to identify some food triggers. Doing so took me many years, but it’s now something about my illness that I have control over.

    Good luck!

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