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What foods trigger your migraines?

I stay away from msg, and chocolates and nitrates/nitrites, but what other foods tend to set you off? I’ve been migraine free for months and all of a sudden I have problems and I don’t know why. I’m trying to rule out either food or environmental reasons.

  1. Hi - Thanks so much for taking the time to post your question. It's one we see a lot on our site. As you've alluded, ever person who lives with migraine will have a different response to food. Here is a general list of foods that may act as migraine triggers: https://migraine.com/complementary-and-alternative-therapies/migraine-diet. We also have information on low-tyramine diets like this one: https://migraine.com/blog/low-tyramine-diet-essentials, and foods to consider doing an elimination diet for here: https://migraine.com/blog/elimination-diet-foods-to-eat-foods-to-avoid. As a gentle reminder, these lists are not meant to be a 100% avoidance of all foods listed. Rather, it's an encouragement to assess how you feel when each food is in your diet, and how you feel when it's excluded. Rarely will any person avoid all of the suggested foods.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to let us know. We're happy to help! - Cody (Team Member)

    1. I noticed with my food and drink triggers that they are oddly specific. Such as how much I eat/drink of whatever it is. I think it has to do with how much of whatever is in it that triggers the migraine. Anyway, I tend to stay away from dark wines, salami, raisins, and prosciutto. I can eat pepperoni and grapes but not the other meats or the raisins. Just like I can drink clear wines like Moscato and Chardonnay but not Merlot or Cabernet. As far as what I limit myself to small portions, I limit myself when it comes to dark chocolate, takeout like (Lo Mein and egg rolls and stuff), and fried food. Too much can easily trigger a migraine. Even more susceptible if others triggers are present.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing these insights with us. Your thoughts are thought-provoking and helpful. I'm aware of my many food/drink triggers but hadn't thought about how the quantity, intensity, and/or combination of those triggers could also play a role. I know I'm guilty of making broad decisions to avoid entire food groups out of fear of triggering attacks when I know there are gray areas to be found where I could enjoy smaller portions or different options.
        When I finally figured out that gluten is a trigger for me, I thought back to being young and how I could eat bread and cereal without consequence, but every time I had a stack of pancakes, I would be hit with a massive migraine attack. I then became quite strict about eliminating all gluten but, in truth, I know I could handle a small amount of that ingredient without tripping myself up.
        Alternately, a small sip of red wine causes an immediate attack for me, while vodka does not. Still, I found it easier just to avoid alcohol altogether.
        None of these foods makes me feel great. Perhaps, in many cases - the old adage "everything in moderation" applies.
        It's a good and important point you make to look for those gray areas so that we can still enjoy what we can in the way of food and drink. Grateful for your contribution here. By the way, it sounds like MSG is a trigger for you - I'm assuming you've figured that out. - Holly - team member.

    2. OK, also try avoiding multivitamins !!! the multivitamins usually contain metals known to affect headaches, like chromium, cobalt,molybdenum, selenium. We don't need those metals....jimmyblue

      1. In general, the body does need certain amounts of specific metals to function properly, though diet has to be considered as a part of that process and supplements can be tricky. It's a good idea to bring any vitamins or supplements when visiting your migraine doctor, to make sure they're safe to take or to discuss possible triggers. -Melissa, team member

    3. Migraines can be tricky!
      Besides MSG, chocolate and nitrates/nitrites, common triggers include aged cheeses, caffeine, alcohol (especially red wine), artificial sweeteners and processed meats.
      Environmental factors like stress, sleep changes and weather can also play a role. Keep a diary to help identify your specific triggers.

      1. A migraine diary is hugely helpful for a lot of people who are struggling to pin down their triggers -- which are unique for each of us.

        For those who are new to trying this, it doesn't have to be anything long or complicated. Kerrie gives some good tips on how to get started here: https://migraine.com/blog/keeping-migraine-diary-basics

        Thanks for sharing some of your triggers and the encouragement, Jimmy! -Melissa, team member

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