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Profile of a person eating cheese pizza, saltine cracker, and milkshake.

3 Crazy Cravings That Help Me Get Through My Migraines

The last migraine I had I named Shirley. Shirley sent me straight to bed after supper. The nausea I was experiencing with Shirley was topping my migraine charts – unlike Laverne who had visited me a couple of weeks prior. She’d been a lot more tame.

Migraine personality

Every migraine I have has a distinctive personality. They’re so individual in their pain that I want them to have their own name, social security number, and Netflix account. However, there’s one way in which my migraine personalities do stay the same: Their food cravings. These strange and weird cravings give me a little extra help navigating an attack. Here are 3 of my best crazy cravings:

Milkshakes

Thank goodness chocolate is not one of my many migraine triggers like hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and blinking. I mean, my birthday cake has been the same chocolate cake since I was an 8-year-old. It’s clear my love of chocolate goes way back, so it was odd to discover that my migraines crave a different flavor when they’re in charge: Vanilla. A vanilla shake is my go-to drink when I’m in the throes of an episode. Vanilla has been proven to inhibit vomiting and lessen stomach cramps, and the cold of the ice cream brings relief to my hot aching head. Too bad they don’t make vanilla shake cold compresses.

Crackers

Saltine was my cracker of choice when I was pregnant with my son. These magical crackers helped alleviate my nausea when I was preggo, and they also happen to be the cracker my migraines order up when calling the shots. Generally, I don’t enjoy these crumbly dry squares, but I always have them on hand when my migraines come to visit. They’re simply the best at calming the waters of my churning stomach and keeping my dog standing (cracker-crumb) vigil by my bedside.

Pizza

When the inside of my head has stopped barbecuing itself, the first food group I crave is pizza. I’ve become so predictable in this part of my “come down” phase that my husband magically makes cheese pizza appear for me. This is when I nibble on a slice or two and go back to bed. I doubt pizza has any healing benefits, so I’m not sure why I crave it. Maybe my migraines are trying to apologize by offering me a truce and leaving me with some happy comfort food after spending hours in bed.

Comfort in comfort foods

Having migraines is scary and overwhelming due to their unpredictability and pain level. So, I’ve tried to find a little comfort in my comfort foods. My strange cravings help my body feel better in moments where little else does. This is why after 36 hours of living through a migraine, I’ll happily reward myself with a slice or two of pizza—and maybe a whole chocolate cake.

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

  • JanetH
    2 months ago

    I get cravings pre-migraine. Usually chocolate or salty carbs like nuts, chips, etc. When I’m in the throes of a migraine, my family’s classic stomach bug lunch is what I eat: chicken noodle or rice soup, saltines, herb tea. Maybe some cheese to go with the crackers. I keep strawberry applesauce on hand, too. Sometimes a yogurt is nice.

  • JanetH
    2 months ago

    PS I also keep Gatorade around for rehydrating because I get irritable bowel symptoms with migraine. It helps restore electrolytes.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    2 months ago

    @janeth, Thanks for sharing what helps! I wanted to chime in to share our sister site in case you have not already explored it! You can take a look here at IrritableBowelSyndrome.net. Managing multiple conditions must be very challenging. I am terribly sorry you are forced to navigate so much. 🙁

  • brencon65
    2 months ago

    I too crave a Vanilla Shake. My husband says I should drink it fast to get brain freeze and maybe my migraine will go away. He could be on to something. I am blessed that he doesn’t hesitate to go get me one. I reach for the crackers also, that’s after I take my Maxalt and a cup of coffee for some caffeine. Sometimes that works, sometimes no. The life of migraines.

  • JanetH
    2 months ago

    My classic combo at work if a migraine hits is 1000 mg of acetaminophen and a cuppa Joe. Or a Coke.

  • glassmind
    2 months ago

    I get reactive hypoglycemia which triggers migraine. My cravings are for healthy things. Potassium rich foods, salt (I also have hypotension) and salads. Miseed meals and low nutrients will trigger migraine, so I crave the cures. Vegetable broth is a great consumption when nauseous and need nutrients, but suffering anorexia also. Yogurt is a crave cure for me also.

  • Cindy
    2 months ago

    My daughters and I call this the migraine munchies. It is a feeling that if you could just eat the right thing, it would help the pain and other symptoms go away. The cravings always seem to be something with little nutritional value. Salty and sweet together for me. I realized something interesting a few years ago. I thought I was craving tomatoes, chocolate and citrus before a migraine, but it turns out I have a histamine intolerance. So these things were increasing the severity of the migraine. After 45 years of migraines I am starting to figure some things out

  • SkiingIsBelieving
    2 months ago

    Since migraine is closely connected to insulin resistance (many migrainueurs have undiagnosed pre-diabetes or hypoglycemia) it makes sense that we crave carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar drops. The trouble is, that sets us up for the next one, since migraine is consistent with carbohydrate intolerance in many people. Also, migraine is closely connected to potassium and sodium balance–potatoes are super high in potassium, and taste salty, so reaching for that would make sense. If you are at all interested in the links between these things and migraine I highly recommend checking out Angela Stanton’s migraine protocol. She is a PhD and a migraineur and in 8 months working with her protocol my migraines are almost completely gone. I feel better than I have in years.

  • Barb
    1 month ago

    I read her book at the beginning of the year-some of it makes sense, but it’s all so complicated and overwhelming, I just can’t..another thing that “might” help but too overwhelming to navigate

  • krexford
    2 months ago

    It is nice to know others get the cravings. For me, during an attack I crave fruit smoothies (the more brain freeze the better) and chocolate (specifically Cadbury Milk Chocolate). Then coming down from a Migraine it is all about McDonald’s fries. The majority of my migraine include a lot of violent praying to the porcelain god so I never feel guilty about following my cravings.

  • brencon65
    2 months ago

    I just read your comment about brain freeze! My husband told me a long time ago to do this. Before the internet you didn’t get much useful information. My Doctor was the only person I ever received information from. My husband had looked into migraines at the Library when I was first diagnosed! Imagine that! That’s the way we use to get our information, lol.

  • DinaMay
    2 months ago

    What a fun idea, naming your monsters! But what odd cravings! Strawberry ice cream will occasionally send my wolfish pain back to where it started. Pizza would wake it back up again, for sher!

  • sarahblankenship
    2 months ago

    I want sweet things before and during. I want koolaid and a bowl of rice krispies if I can eat at all. Popsicles too. When it’s going away, I want pasta, usually fettuccini alfredo or some form of mac and cheese. Not healthy, and since I’ve been having almost daily migraines, I have really tried to make the things I can handle a little healthier– real fruit pops, broccoli in pasta, that sort of little things. I have always just assumed if my body was asking for something, I should probably make an effort. I do find that indulging in whatever I’m craving tends to not be as likely to cause vomiting…

  • Tate
    2 months ago

    Several days prior my cravings for sugar ramps up. The craving for pure sweet sugary stuff is almost irresistible. Interestingly enough I want absolutely no fruit at all – brown sugar, white sugar, honey or maple syrup is the only thing that fits the craving. If I could I could spoon pure sugar into my mouth continuously. I’ve wondered if plain old glucose could be ingested instead of fructose or sucrose – at least glucose can be put to use and maybe that’s the problem for some reason I can’t convert other sugars to glucose and that triggers my migraine. It’s something I’m considering trying. Afterward it’s protein I want…pure meat protein and usually either beef or shrimp/fish. Pork and chicken are out. That phase lasts a couple days then I’m back to wanting sugar – rinse and repeat.

    My go to when it finally hits is a perfect winner for me instead of drugs 95% of the time…8oz of black coffee, 1oz of Bailey’s and 1oz of Kahlua (for me no other mix combo has worked however your mileage may vary).

    It’s totally weird and I worry that I’ll wreck my health but so far so good.

  • smikadove
    2 months ago

    I used to crave toasted bagels with lots of butter which morphed into saltines (too hard to toast stuff). I crave pizza too… but stay away because I’ve noticed dairy products then give me another one :/
    Salt definitely helps, and potatoes (chips anyone?)
    And nothing actually helps with the pain, but I am comforted by it.

  • Janie
    2 months ago

    Interesting. My craving is for peanut butter, and when the system has calmed down to the point of being able to eat, it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that calls my name.

  • hilljan
    2 months ago

    I too have cravings. I often crave spaghetti and meat sauce when coming out of it. I think it’s my body needing a higher calorie meal. I live in Northern California and the rainy season is killer for me. Sadly the bulk of my calories during that time of year are from soda crackers and fever tree ginger beer. Both help with my constant nausea because the migraines are so frequent I am pretty much always dizzy and nauseous.

    All of these provide carbohydrates for the brain too. Which I read can help migraines. My Dad use to swear that his ginger ale and vanilla ice cream floats helped him after a migraine.

  • SolusUmbra
    2 months ago

    Salt can also be a craving to help rebalance electrolytes. I feel that when you have a migraine it strips your body of a lot of resources.

  • SolusUmbra
    2 months ago

    I find that I crave pizza as well or anything high in protein. I believe it is the protein helps to recover from the migraine and rebalance the body.

  • KirstenNB
    2 months ago

    Yes! Mine are ice cream during (gives my rescue meds the extra kick to start working) and chicken strips and french fries at the tail end (kinda like eating greasy foods during a hangover).

    I was seeing a DO several years ago and told her about how ice cream helps my rescue meds kick into effect. She said that it might be because ice cream actually gives you a little high. She explained it as the amount of sugar + cream = slight high. Crazy, right?
    Granted, this does not work for me everytime, but sometimes it does. And my husband tries to get me to eat ice cream with almost every migraine…

  • anchored in hope
    2 months ago

    Holy Hanna I have the same cravings, but for me eating chocolate has never made my headaches better, but still crave it from time to time. Pizza, a Chik fil A vanilla milkshake, and sometimes crackers, but for me- fries, but the thing the two have in common are carbs! Pizza is my fav food group, I can eat it anytime hot or cold.

  • SarahAchee
    2 months ago

    The one thing that gets me passed the tail end of a mild migraine is mashed potatoes with extra butter. The rich, creamy and buttery flavor gets me through. The starch settles any nausea.

  • Realjoyce
    2 months ago

    My go to is Coca-Cola, but only from a can, with saltines. Something about the salt, caffeine and fizz that soothes me.

  • JanetH
    2 months ago

    I buy Mexican Coca-Cola made with cane syrup to keep on hand for migraines. And I always, always have saltines around.

  • RobinfromCA
    4 weeks ago

    I also like the Mexican Coke because of the cane sugar instead of the high fructose corn syrup. It helps soothe my tummy and the carbonation helps. Coke with MaxAlt and Ketorolac are my “take it quick” combo when I feel the dreaded symptoms of a bad migraine monster rearing it’s ugly head.

  • Joansie13
    2 months ago

    Many years ago they used to sell Coke syrup for upset stomachs. I don’t think they still do but it would make sense that it would be soothing.
    Anything that helps!

  • JanetH
    2 months ago

    You can still get it some places. A small local pharmacy ordered it for me once. I usually just buy Mexican Coke. My dad used to give coke syrup to us kids all the time for upset stomach. My husband’s dad is a pharmacist, and that’s what their family did as well. Just checked–Amazon sells several varieties of cola syrup! The brand the pharmacy got for me was Ezy, which is there.

  • Kate
    2 months ago

    I have some similarities. With the milder migraines and/or in the early hours, I crave fatty rich foods like french fries or milkshakes.

    When I’m nauseous, its saltines, and only saltines. I struggle with controlling nausea, as often Zofran quickly and nearly completely resolves it, only for it to come roaring back after an hour or few. Then, if I’m home, I break out the Phenergen (it puts me to sleep after a couple hours).

    I can’t think of any food cravings on the tail end or after, just that I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, so despite the drastic improvement in symptoms, I don’t really feel much better.

  • Janie
    2 months ago

    I wish the Phenergan would put me to sleep. Nothing does. Usually I just wish I would pass out until it’s over, but alas, I remain awake for the entire attack.

  • krexford
    2 months ago

    Janie I have the same issue. When I used to do Imitrex injections a fifteen minute nap and I was coming off the migraine. Now my insurance will only give me the Sumatriptan pill and once a month I get a three day migraine where by day two, I haven’t slept, can’t relax, and just want anything to totally knock me unconscious for 24 hours.

  • glassmind
    2 months ago

    “Despite … improvement in symptoms, I don’t feel much better.”

    Exactly, so hard to explain to migraine-free folks.

  • glassmind
    2 months ago

    Dairy and tomatoes (especially in sauce form) are both good sources of potassium which can help with migraine. I used to always crave and find relief in yogurt and potatoes (another potassium source). I recently discovered my “normal” diet is low in potassium. I just started increasing potassium rich foods and am hopeful it will make a difference.

    I also find salt helps as I have hypotension also. Salt helps with the migraine and the blood pressure.

    Maybe these nutrient therapy needs are behind your cravings?

  • anchored in hope
    2 months ago

    Holy Hanna I have the same cravings, but for me eating chocolate has never made my headaches better, but still crave it from time to time. Pizza, a Chik fil A vanilla milkshake, and sometimes crackers, but for me- fries, but the thing the two have in common are carbs! Pizza is my fav food group, I can eat it anytime hot or cold.

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