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Triggers

Food and Drinks

  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Hi Sharon,

    AS you probably have realized, not every person is sensitive to every potential trigger. Moreover, what may trigger a Migraine today, may not be a trigger next year. Sometimes triggers by themselves won’t cause a problem, but combine them with another trigger and *whamo* a Migraine results.

    I have a lot of triggers, making living a normal life difficult. It’s not impossible though! It just takes a lot of care and sometimes some stubbornness thrown in for good measure. Others won’t understand some triggers and may be unhappy when I refuse certain activities or foods etc. It’s okay though, I’d rather upset them than suffer another attack.

    My worst triggers are changes in eating habits and blood sugar/insulin status, change in sleep habits, msg, certain foods, hormone replacement (estrogens and progesterones), my autoimmune diseases, not maintaining a perfectly balanced thyroid status. I also suffer letdown headaches, meaning stress doesn’t trigger them, but when the stress is gone I get hit pretty hard sometimes. Certain medicines really hit me hard, and I rebound easily as well.

    What are your triggers Sharon?

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  • By megan

    I hope people still read this. I would love to hear about peoples tiggers I am triggered mainly my ice/cold foods and lack of vegatables also certain foods spices notalone but in a certian combo like garlic and ciliantro togeter are rosemary togther with onions or garlic. I also suffer letdown heaadaches or headaches due to lack of stress and being busy like you Ellen

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  • By Shannon

    I have a number of triggers too. This year, as a whole, has been a pretty good year. I might get four or five migraines a month rather than the usual daily headache AND weekly migraine. My triggers can include:
    Too much sun, and too much is very little (my sister calls me vampira), caffeine, chocolate, too little/too much sleep, msg, processed meats, exercise, not enough water, and change in barometric pressure. These are triggers I have been able to identify.
    Even so, I find it impossible to not trigger a migraine. I have never found a medication that has helped me (prescription too), other than Advil. I have worked to modify my lifestyle (I am taking better care of myself – mostly diet and work/life balance – and although it has resulted in reducing the frequency of migraines, it hasn’t yet bee able to eliminate them from my life.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Shannon, you might want to start a conversation with your doctor re: your sun sensitivity. Although anything can potentially trigger a Migraine attack, this is not one we normally see without co-morbidities like autoimmunity etc. Have you ever been seen by a rheumatologist to be sure this isn’t complicating your Migraines?

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  • By Mary-Louise howard

    Duration(3days max.) & frequency(1+/wk) and the number of triggers have greatly increased over the years. Currently they are:
    -Food additives/preservatives/prep.foods
    -sulfites(balsamic vinegar, wine etc
    -nitrates (all processed meat)
    -cheeses, milk,preserved fruit(raisins..)
    -onions, celery seed, garlic(dilators)
    -prescriptions-prednisone,antibiotics,
    pain meds,anesthetics@dentist
    -over the counter: benedryl, vitamins(!)
    -Irregular sleep (staying up late, getting up in night for chilren, sick relative..)
    -Strong gasoline, or oil smell
    I used to take cafergot,
    then imitrex injections, then maaxalt, now zomig (+ zofran,8 mg, which I started when my 14 yr. old got cancer).
    Dining out is scary/difficult/not fun.
    I can eat walnuts, apples, most fruit, fresh vegetables, lemon, pasta, rice, small amounts of chocolate.

    Am so grateful to have discovered this site 🙂
    Have postponed big dental appt. because know i will come down with terrible headache+vomiting immediately.. taking the zomig before does not abort the headache trigged by the dental meds.

    Hope some can relate to the stuff that triggers my migraines.

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  • By sallycase

    I’ve had to give up cheese in the last few months :(. I found that eating pizza on a friday night made me get a migraine on the weekend. I suspected pepperoni but tried a plain pizza and it still happened. Cheese is a favourite thing of mine but hey, I’d rather be upright and cheeseless.

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  • By charitie

    I have found out that breakfast foods from places like ihop and denny’s give me migraines. I have not quite narrowed down what exactly it is because i eat most of those foods at home and am fine.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Charitie and Sallycase,

    Don’t forget the additives that are more often than not found in our favorite restaurant foods. A huge culprit is MSG which is really an enormous problem in our culture. It is in nearly everything. Did you know that companies are trying to fool us by *cleaning up* their food labels? Yes, they can now say there is “No MSG Added” or even “No MSG” legally, even though the product is still there, just under a different name. You can learn more at these links: MSG- untangling this Migraine trigger http://bit.ly/qFXrs2 and How do I Locate Hidden MSG Triggers? http://bit.ly/qoLa40

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    • By toomany

      Ellen,

      I have determined that the main trigger for my migraines is MSG. I was so surprised to find it in so many food items such as salad dressings and soups. I try to only eat freshly prepared foods. Even some spice mixes have MSG, so once I find one that does not, then that is the one I tend to use. For the most part I use herbs grown in my own garden for seasoning. This revelation is causing me to eat healthy foods, probably the way we should be eating anyway. It is amazing to think how much we have come to depend on prepared and processed foods. If I can not read the ingredients on the bottle or can, I do not purchase. I have been without a migraine for 5 weeks now, the longest I can remember and I do not want to do anything that will jeopardize that.

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  • By manageyourmigraines

    Foods are the main trigger for me… I do believe that stress, sleep, and hormones play a role into how sensitive I may be, but overall the majority of my migraines I can link to something I’ve eaten. There’s a host of ingredients, but mainly MSG and those hidden MSG terms, processed meats, malt (in all forms), and artificial sweeteners are the main culprits. In the last couple of years I have totally changed the way I eat and I never thought I had a bad diet to begin with. I stay away from processed foods and only go to restaurants that cook from scratch, homemade foods. MSG is really hard to avoid as it is in so many foods. Wholesome foods are really so much more rewarding on top of not having to deal with a migraine!
    I’ve never noticed a reaction to herbs, as a matter of fact have had rosemary tea to help a headache in the past. Triggers seem to be so different for people across the board. However, I am a firm believer that MSG, nitrates, and artificial sweeteners are not good for anyone, regardless of it gives you a migraine.

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  • By Kelly

    I finally found my main trigger about a year ago. Caffeine seems to be my main trigger or it became my main trigger. I lOVE coffee but since stopping all caffeine intake I’ve gone from a max of 40 migraines in a month down and average of 5 a month, there was even 1 month when I didn’t have any! The odd thing is Migranal has caffeine in it but works so good for me. I have found if I take my Migranal at the first sign of a migraine my vision clears up in about 15-20mins and I only get a slight headache that hangs around in the back ground for several hours. Migranal does make me sleepy, but it’s well worth the relief I get and I can work through the sleepiness.

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  • By Melisa71

    I found a new trigger in the last month, unfortunately. I’m not a big soda drinker but do enjoy one on occasion. Not anymore! I don’t know what is in it that causes an attack, but it’s awful! It’s not the caffeine, as I can drink coffee and iced tea all day. But, no more soda for me!

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    MELISA71 – Like you, soda can be a big trigger for me. For me, I think it might be the phosphoric acid often used in commercially produced sodas. I took a chance and purchased a SodaStream from my local WalMart and am now making my own *soda* using fruit juices. I have not had the trouble I usually do with commercially produced sodas. Not sure what the difference is, but it seems to be working for now. If I have an addiction, it is to soda, and I had to give it up years ago due to kidney stones. I haven’t been using my sodastream too long yet, but so far, so good 😀

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  • By Melisa71

    I thought about trying a Soda Stream, but wasn’t sure if I should risk the migraine. So far I don’t really miss having soda. I only really “want” one a couple of times a month, or so, and a commercial soda isn’t worth the day in bed. I’m not so sure it’s worth the cost of a soda stream though either LOL Thank you for letting me know it works for you though! I may give it a try yet!

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  • By mrsj

    I used to think my triggers were rare. My dad would give me strange looks when I blamed nitrates or cheese for triggering a severe migraine. I’m glad to know I’m not going crazy. My husband has been trying to pin point more of my triggers. But aged cheese will trigger a migraine within 30 mins. I have family who wants me to cut wheat and glutin out of my diet too. Thinking they are triggers. Its hard to eat when you are always worrying if you are eating a trigger. Where I work they prepare meals for us, and half the time I can’t eat because there are 2 or 3 food triggers.

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  • By CallMeTrish

    My only trigger is tartrazine, yellow artificial colour.

    Tartrazine is in some processed foods and drinks, lotions, shampoos and make-up. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.

    Good luck with your triggers!

    Trish

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  • By CM

    MSG is a HUGE trigger for me, but only in certain things…and I suspect that really means certain quantities. I’ve also tried to cut out caffeine as much as possible.

    Has anyone tried the Migraine Diet by Dr. Bucholz (Johns Hopkins)? He’s got a book out that I’ve tried. It’s really restrictive at first but the idea is to add foods back in to determine triggers. It helped me a lot.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi CM,

    Thanks for sharing with us CM.

    I also have problems with MSG and you may have a point about quantity. But we are all so different when it comes to migraine triggers a little for you may be way to much for someone else. This is part of what makes migraine so difficult to treat – we all experience migraine so differently.

    Dr. Bucholz’s book has been read by many and some have found it useful.

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  • By vanessafarias

    I began having migraines at 15 years old. I am not 47. The only time I didn’t have migraines was while I was pregnant. I have lots of triggers but the worst is MSG. It is hidden in the ingredients as “natural flavors” because the FDA allows that. Nice huh?

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    vanessafarias – You are very right! Isn’t it scary that food companies are right this moment focusing on “cleaning up the labels” of their products and not the products themselves? Add to that MSG is the ingredient fed to mice and rats to make them fat for obesity and diabetes research and well, it’s just frightening all the way around.

    Here are some articles on MSG and Migraine that are really important to be up to date on:

    Migraine Triggers: MSG – Untangling this Hidden Migraine Trigger https://migraine.com/blog/msg-untangling-this-hidden-migraine-trigger/

    Migraine Triggers: How Do I Locate Hidden MSG Migraine Triggers? https://migraine.com/blog/locate-hidden-msg-migraine-triggers/

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  • By tory a

    I believe that my largest triggers are sleep habits, poor nutrition and lights. I am thankful that I can still eat chocolate:) It is sad that there are so many know pathogens that are still allowed to be in our foods. Especially since the labels are supposed to be being “cleaned up”. I think that there should not be as many names for the same ingredient.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    tory-a – I think the main problem is that they are cleaning the labels, not the products. To me, this feels a whole lot like a type of bait and switch on consumers, and because it affects our health so greatly, it really is a pet peeve of mine. There are no regulations on MSG because it is seen as a *natural* element. My feelings? Cyanide is also natural…

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  • By Brenna

    I had a quick question. I cut out foods with wheat in them during the last couple weeks of December (and still going strong) because my mom read a book that said wheat (and all it’s genetically modified protein expressions… paraphrasing that bit but you get the idea?) can have a role in migraines. Has anyone else found this? (For me they decreased from everyday to… one this past week… does that seem right? Is it placebo? Just looking for some thoughts. Thanks)

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Brenna,

    I bet your mom read ‘Wheat Belly’ which is all the rage right now. Cutting out every source of wheat/gluten in the diet. Some people are allergic to gluten/wheat and cannot have ANYTHING with it in the produce because it causes such distress and problems in their gastrointestinal track which if bad enough can lead to other problems. This is called Celiac disease – see Celiac Disease and Gluten Free http://www.celiac.com/. There are people with migraine who have celiac and therefore wheat is not an option at all. Other people with migraine may be sensitive to gluten as it may trigger a migraine. I’m gf and really haven’t noticed a big different yet, in my migraine frequency, but have noticed my skin has improved and I have a bit more energy. The thing is we can eliminate one trigger, but we can’t eliminate the disease. Sort of like managing diabetes. Does that make sense? Let me give you some information on migraine triggers; https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-management-essential-trigger-management/

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Hi Brenna – There are a small number of patients who find that going gluten or wheat free may be helpful to their Migraines. The numbers are very small however.

    That said, the placebo effect is extremely powerful as well.

    Personally, I don’t much care what makes me feel better, even a placebo if that’s what it takes. 🙂 I figure if something lasts 3-5 years, it’s probably not going to be placebo however, as those effects tend to wear off in a fairly short amount of time (weeks to months).

    The thing about wheat is that it is virtually everywhere. Chances are, unless you are making everything from scratch, you are probably still getting some wheat in your diet without your knowledge. Even medicines tend to have wheat products in them.

    Personally, I am not a fan of gmo foods. True, we genetically modify plants every time we cross-pollinate them etc to create a bigger better apple tree, or sweeter corn etc. However gmo’s are different because the genetics of unrelated organisms have been added. I do think that, for some patients, this could cause problems we may not yet be aware of because it is so new. As with everything else related to Migraine, it is going to be very individualized to each patient.

    I look at it this way – if my great grandparents wouldn’t recognize something as food, I don’t eat it. I cook like they did, and shop with that in mind. We even put up our own veggies in the summer so I don’t have to worry about additives etc that are used during processing. All this in effort to minimize my attacks. It is a lot of work, but has been worth it. I am still struggling, but at least I am somewhat functional. Before we adopted those theories, I was in bed all day. Can’t say it will work for everyone, but for the last 6-8 years it has definitely helped me.

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  • By noemrd

    I am getting frustrated with this diet! The things I eliminated were gluten , dairy, red meat, msg , tomatoes, onions , any processed foods including all the sandwich meats and God knows what else. I feel like I am so limited and it’s getting frustrating! Any recipe ideas?

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    You can find a lot of different recipe ideas here https://migraine.com/?s=recipe with more to come.

    It’s true that there isn’t much easy to say about figuring out food triggers. My best advice is to just not stress it and accept it, remembering that whatever you’re doing now is nothing at all compared to a Migraine. It does get better, I promise. 🙂

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  • By taralane

    I have been on a run of #7-9 level migraines lasting 72-96 hours weekly since I received my first set of Botox shots in the beginning of March. I am set to receive my 2nd round in the beginning of June. What I don’t know is whether all of this is due to the Botox, or triggers that have come to the surface because I expanded my diet just around the same time.

    I was having severe diarrhea problems whenever I ate any beans, veg, or fruit, and went on a very limited diet of white rice, apples, bananas, white bread and chicken broth for a full year. I added in some real chicken after the first 4 months, but other than that and a pastry or two here and there, that was it. The diarrhea cleared up nicely. I went to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy which was not clear, but they did do an endoscopy at the same time and pulled out a couple of cysts, both of which were benign, so I am clear with that. I am going to try probiotics next, as I am trying to ease some veg back in my diet without much success.

    I am also trying to discover what is causing the great increase in severe migraines, which brings me back to the subject of triggers. These migraines are wearing me out, and so I have been getting frozen dinners (low salt, low fat) that I can cook in the microwave in 4-5 minutes, but looking at the labels I am now thinking they are causing my problems, and I have to go back to cooking from scratch, including making my own bread if I want it, just to know what is, and is not in the food I am ingesting. There are some foods I gave up – like yogurt – which I can eat now, but may have to stop because they again may be contributing to my increased # of migraines. It is a big process to figure all this out, and I never know because after a food “vacation” I can sometimes go back to a food with no problems, and then it will cause a problem in a month or two, and I am not always aware it is the culprit. How long is reasonable to try out a food for a trigger – 1x/wk for a couple of months? Or, say 3-4 times a week (like yogurt) for a month? Has anyone gone for a food allergy test – one with the needles that will produce a rash if there is a true allergy, that may signal a trigger. I don’t drink (haven’t since my late twenties), no caffeine, no chocolate, no msg – I read labels religiously and go organic as much as possible. I am starting to think I have to begin again, and go back on the rice/chicken broth diet to break this cycle and test out foods. I am a lifelong vegetarian, and this whole experience has been difficult. I have always eaten beans, rice and many kinds of veg that it is difficult, not to mention unhealthy to do without.

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    • By toomany

      I went through some sever stomach issues as well while trying to control my migraines. I just recently realized that the chicken broth and the broth like soups I was ingesting had MSG in them. I have been purchasing broth marked no MSG and so far so good. Like Ellen stated, it is best to stay with fresh foods. It is more time consuming, but actually takes up less of time as my migraines take up.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    taralane – Oh hon, I hate to tell you, but based on what you’ve written here, your diet is far from MSG free. MSG goes under so many different names that it can be terribly confusing. Here are 2 links with more information: https://migraine.com/blog/msg-untangling-this-hidden-migraine-trigger/ and https://migraine.com/blog/locate-hidden-msg-migraine-triggers/

    Additionally, there is a good link here on food triggers and elimination diets: https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-triggers-food-triggers-elimination-diets/

    I am super concerned that by being on your diet for so long, you have seriously depleted your body of nutrients necessary to function properly. Have you had testing for vitamin levels to be sure you’re okay there? Our body needs these things to create important neurotransmitters that can help to prevent Migraines.

    Probiotics are going to be really important for you too, because you’re not really eating anything to keep the good bacteria in your gut alive, so it is probably overwhelmed with bad bacteria which could be causing a lot of problems too.

    Our family has a history of life threatening allergies, and for one member, allergic reactions are the trigger for around 90% of his Migraine attacks. This is not usually the case, but for us, it is.

    There are several ways to test for allergies and sensitivities, and having this done may be a really good investment for you considering your predicament. I’ve had the testing done you’re talking about. Not all allergists are created equally though, so if yours doesn’t want to take your situation seriously and really work with due diligence to help you figure this out, find another one who is.

    I would never have survived on what you’re eating currently. There are so many of my personal trigger foods in what you’re eating, I’m just really not sure where to begin. Just because these foods are my triggers doesn’t mean they will be your triggers, but sometimes the best thing to do is assume that everything is a trigger until proven wrong.

    Triggers are complicated. They can affect you at least 3 days after you’ve come into contact with them because it takes that long for the body to be rid of them. This is how rotational diets started years ago. The idea was to eat an allergen that could be tolerated in small doses, just once. Then wait 4 days (3 days, then one to be clear of it) and eat another serving. Triggers are also cumulative. You can think of them as a tower of blocks. Each trigger is worth a certain number of blocks, which will be different for each person. AS you know, you can only pile so many blocks on top of each other before the tower comes crashing down. In our analogy, this crashing of the tower would result in a Migraine. So you see, your triggers could be cumulating over days to cause a problem so far removed from your initial exposure to the trigger, that it is making finding the trigger difficult. For this reason, some doctors recommend not trying to find food triggers, but simply eating a good, balanced diet, free from chemicals etc. This means cooking fresh from scratch – nothing from a can or box, even an ingredient. No boullion cubes or canned stock, you make it yourself. No grocery store yogurt, you make it yourself with real fruit or honey (if it’s not a trigger for you like it is for me). Buy a bread machine and make your own from pure flour. We use Bob’s Red Mill flours because there are not any chemicals or additives that are in nearly all other flours. Did you know most wheat flour also has barley flour in it to make it lighter? Dough conditioners can be a huge trigger too. Instead, maybe try making your own baking powder biscuits, or corn tortillas from masa flour (so easy!.

    When it comes to Migraine, maintaining otherwise excellent health is vital. Any physiological changes in our body or its homeostasis can trigger a Migraine. Migraine brains are very sensitive to change and they don’t like change. At all!

    As to the Botox, It would be a terrible shame to discard a potentially helpful treatment when you have all this other stuff going on that could potentially be the trouble. You also haven’t finished the trial yet of at least 3 cycles. Talk to your doctor, but if it were me (and I am in a similar situation) I would really try to stick it out until you’ve had a good trial of at least 3 good cycles without anything else to cause trouble in the meantime.

    I also suggest seeing a nutritionist. My headache specialist has one on staff. I went to see her the first time, expecting to be scolded for something, but came out completely surprised that there were no recommendations for my diet, which I was told was a first. It made me feel good I really did have a super good handle on eating right AND managing my triggers in a helpful way. I hope my experience might be helpful to others here too.

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  • By andreapierce

    Ellen you are currently helping me in another discussion but I stumbled upon this conversation and it is of great interest to me because I have been trying to cut out the gluten out of my diet to see if it is a trigger after reading the article about it on here the other day. First, I know this is a dumb question but is MSG and gluten the same? I thought they were 2 different things so I have been trying to make sure the things I eat have none but now I’m a little confused. Also, I understand what you are saying about staying away from the frozen foods but (and I know all migrainers have these days) what about when you are too ill to make something but know if you don’t eat your migraine will get worse? On those days it seems like I am always eating a frozen dinner. I have switched over to Amy’s though http://www.amys.com/. I specifically look for gluten free but they may also be free of several other triggers, please see: http://www.amys.com/health/special-diets
    What is your opinion on these? Am I wasting time and money on them because they cost quite a bit more than regular frozen dinners and can be hard to find. I also did not know that these items can contain MSG: soda, energy and sports drinks, sunscreen and bug sprays, cosmetics, medications, vaccinations, shampoo and conditioners. Is there anyway to find a list online of specific products? I use lots of cosmetics: Sephora, Dior, Urban Decay, Make Up Forever etc. and specific shampoos like WEN, Philosophy and Organix. With so many hidden names for MSG I feel overwhelmed. What is your opinion on protein shakes example: Adkins, Pure Protein etc.? Because I drink those a lot and my husband thinks they could be bad for me and possibly cause migraines. *I thought of something else what about food color dyes like Red 40 and their is a specific blue one too but I can’t remember the number. Do you know anything about those?

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  • By andreapierce

    Ellen…here is the ingredients in one of the frozen dinners from the Amy’s line that I have been eating:
    Ingredients : No Trans Fat/No Added MSG/No Preservatives (Vegan) Organic short grain brown rice, organic onions, mushrooms, organic broccoli, organic carrots, organic tofu (filtered water, organic soybeans, nigari [magnesium chloride, a natural firming agent]), organic spinach, organic celery, organic extra virgin olive oil, spices*, organic sesame tahini, organic apple cider vinegar, sea salt, organic tamari (wheat free), ume plum vinegar, grain vinegar, expeller pressed high oleic safflower oil, ground mustard seeds, organic garlic. Contains soy and sesame seeds.100% pure herbs & spices (no hidden ingredients)
    I was reading:
    https://migraine.com/blog/locate-hidden-msg-migraine-triggers/
    and I think it answers my questions about the protein shakes.

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  • By andreapierce

    Sorry but I found some more helpful info to share:

    http://www.organixhair.com/content/faq
    Are Organix® products gluten free?
    Yes, our entire Organix® line is gluten-free

    http://www.dior.com/beauty/usa/en/actions/faq.ep
    Do Dior products contain gluten?

    Dior assures that all products do not contain gluten in the ingredient formulas. Moreover, as a preventive measure and to go further with the fight against cosmetic allergies, Dior has removed all proteins and wheat hydrolysis proteins from products. However, in spite of a high attention with the tracking system, Dior can not certify that commodities have not been in contact with gluten during the providers’ production process.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    andreapierce – Any time it mentions *spices (instead of individual spices by name) there is a very good possibility that it has added msg. 🙁 I know, sad, right?! What usually happens is that they have added a pre-mixed spice and are choosing not to tell you what is in it. MSG is a spice and can go by so many names. To say No Added MSG really means nothing anymore, as you probably discovered in the msg links I sent you. It means only that it has not been added separately as MSG. It can still have hidden msg under all kinds of various terms meant to trick us. One of them is sea salt.

    Vinegars tend to be strong triggers for many Migraineurs. Essentially anything that is aged is often a problem. Other potential issues are onions, mushrooms (high in glutamate, the business end of msg), tofu (again, high in glutamate) and spinach (high in nitrates).

    Please remember that this doesn’t mean that these are all causing YOU problems, but just that you should be aware that they are frequently problems for many Migraineurs. We are all different though, and you will only know for sure by testing them yourself with an elimination diet. https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-triggers-food-triggers-elimination-diets/

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  • By Stefanie Davis

    I started the migraine elimination diet as shown in “Heal Your Headaches” in October 2012 and it has helped me a lot with lowering the intensity and frequency of my migraines. I think dairy was a big trigger for me because I always put cheese on things and drank a lot of milk. MSG is also a big problem. I tried to have Chinese food after being “clean” for several months and boy was my stomach mad at me! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle and possibly lowering the intensity/frequency of their migraines.

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    • By Chere

      Ellen,

      Dang. I didn’t know about MSG and Sea Salt.
      The Food Companies get more clever each day.
      How I wish the FDA/whoever would make them stop poisoning us!

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    • By Ellen Schnakenberg

      ChereF

      I really think that eventually they’ll figure it out and get it right, but It’ll probably be when my kids are grandparents I fear.

      I hope that was helpful to you and will make it easier for you to feel better <3

      ~Ellen

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    • By Chere

      Ellen,

      Is there any chance that Migraine.com could rally our sister groups (Migraine Research Foundation, Natl Headache Foundation, AHDA, etc.) to focus on getting some transparency in labeling for MSG,free glutimates, etc?

      If we took a poll, wouldn’t 99.9% of migraine sufferers raise their hand that hunting these poisons down on labels is frigging hard, easy to miss, and causes loss of happy times on this earth?

      It would be so so so helpful !

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    themigrainechef – The funny thing with Dairy is that it is an ingredient in so many things, and often has ingredients itself! Cheese is one. We know cheese can be a powerful Migraine trigger. I’ve heard others that have been able to eat raw dairy products successfully, but not pasteurized products. Some even claim that changing the breed of cow the milk comes from is helpful. That’s one theory I’d like to test out myself.

    I’m so happy you’ve found something that has been helpful for you, and that you took the time to try to help others by sharing it here. Thank you!

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  • By Becky

    My food triggers include peanuts (which I love), lima beans and pepperoni. I can eat pepperoni from Pizza Hut but not other pizza places. I hadn’t tried pepperoni at a “real” Italian restaurant because I am scare of the migraine that may follow. And I can’t drink diet drinks. That is just a few of mine.

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  • By b bigley

    I had chronic migraines for over 20 years. I went to a migraine specialist for 10 years where she used every combination of pills that she had, I’m sure, and also a strict diet which helped some. I had Botox shots for 3 years while still on medication. The shots did help but only for 3 months after each series of shots. As a last resort for me I went on a non gluten diet 3 years ago and I have been migraine free since. It is a healthy diet to be on but you have to avoid any wheat. I even lost 30 pounds after I got off all the medications. I haven’t read anything about this anywhere but wonder if anyone else has tried this diet.

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  • By b bigley

    Thank you Nancy for the reply. I am happy to hear that studies are being done with migraine/gluten. I had not heard about these studies so I even wondered if it was just a ‘miracle’ that I was rid of the daily migraines. After the tremendous amount of medication I had to take, the Botox, the Tens unit on my neck and still the migraines lived on. With the gluten free diet it is amazing where wheat is a hidden ingredient. I was having a problem with carmel. It is in dark soda drinks for one and in bouillon cubes, probably many more foods. Found on the internet carmel is carmelized with wheat.
    Thank you for the interesting informational links.

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    • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

      Hi bbigley,

      THANK YOU! I’ve been eating Kraft caramels for a treat the last few days and my head has been horrible. That information on my treat is invaluable….no more caramels for me!

      Nancy

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  • By victoria

    Regular milk is one of my triggers so I tried lactose free milk and found that I can dink it without any triggers I also drink almond milk. Aspartame, MSG, and nitrates are major triggers for me.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Louise83,

    Thanks so much for sharing your migraine triggers with us. Milk, aspartame, msg and nitrates, among others can be strong migraine triggers for many of us!

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  • By angief

    Hi, Does anyone have a migraine when they eat black licorice or white chocolate? I’ve noticed both are a problem for me but don’t understand why, esp with the white chocolate. Isn’t that just sugar and dairy?

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  • By Kerrie Smyres Moderator

    Afinkel,

    Neither are known to be triggers, but anyone can have a sensitivity to any food and, for a migraineur, it could trigger a migraine. There are no tests for food sensitivities and how they work is kind of a mystery.

    Any chance you crave licorice and white chocolate before a migraine? It’s possible to mistake food cravings for food triggers.

    Kerrie

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  • By angief

    Thanks Kerrie,
    I’d never thought of that. I’ll pay closer attention. I used to eat tons of black licorice and had headaches all the time but never considered that I might have craved it prior to a migraine. The licorice may have had nothing to do with actually getting the headaches. White chocolate is a rarity for me but I’ll pay attention to that too.
    Angie

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  • By JackieG

    Hello! I am new to this site. Recently diagnosed with migraine and MAV. I have started the elimination diet and find lists of triggers conflicting. Many sites for natural prevention list walnuts as being good, but they are on many trigger lists. Also, sardines?
    If they are canned in nothing but water (ingredient list says sardines and water)- no added salt- why are these bad? I find it is hard to eat healthfully on the elimination diet…so much of what I ate on the list! But I am sticking to it for now….

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  • By Kerrie Smyres Moderator

    Twigany,

    The issue with sardines is tyramine, which develops in animal products the longer they age (it’s also in some plant matter as well). Any aged, cured, brined or processed meat, poulty or fish should be avoided on the elimination diet. Even those that aren’t aged, cured or brined could still be high in tyramine. I’m not sure which is the issue with sardines, but they are definitely on the high tyramine lists.

    I chose to err on the side of caution at first and avoided foods that appear on any list. This is the easiest way to see if you’re reacting to something.

    The elimination diet does seem really restrictive, but remember that it’s a short-term thing. You eliminate all the potentially problematic foods, then add them back one at a time to see if you react.

    The earliest stages of an elimination diet are the most confusing and frustrating. Best wishes getting your triggers sorted out.

    Kerrie

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  • By Chere

    I’m working on the 4mos Elimination Diet. Just into it for about 3weeks. (http://www.amazon.com/Heal-Your-Headache-David-Buchholz/dp/0761125663)

    I’m trying to keep track of recipes that have been helpful for me.
    It is so tedious to find things to eat…to change out everything that was handy and easy to eat for what you should eat.

    But I am determined to give this diet a try.
    Too many headaches each month (12-15). Too much pain…or way too many meds.
    I want to live healthier AND painfree.
    Please feel free to offer suggestions – this is a journey.

    Blog: Eating my way to being Migraine Free
    https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=7709361029549561762#allposts

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Twigany

    All canned items are discouraged for Migraine patients. Only one of the reasons is because most cans are lined with plastic that contains varying amounts of BPA which is an estrogen mimic. It has been found to be a potent Migraine trigger. Try hard to stay away from the plastics, and simple things like grocery receipts that also contain the chemical. Here is a link that explains it: https://migraine.com/blog/triggers-bpa/ Canned goods also have added preservatives, often nitrates and nitrites and chemicals that can metabolize into problem chemicals in our bodies.

    Sardines are also very salty, and salt can be a trigger.

    Sardines are also from the sea, and therefore contain “naturally occurring” MSG, a known and potent Migraine trigger. Here is more information on finding MSG in your diet: https://migraine.com/blog/locate-hidden-msg-migraine-triggers/ The list I give there will likely be very surprising. Remember, because a can says “No added MSG” just means they didn’t add it, or add it as MSG. If it is under another name, in another product that contains it, or is naturally occurring, it doesn’t have to be labeled, and companies are “cleaning” up their labels to trick us into thinking they are safe and healthy.

    Many sardines are smoked and contain nitrates and nitrites, both added and natural.

    Hope this is helpful. Good luck with your diet. I have a ton of food triggers myself, and now have a kidney diet and a cystitis diet to add to the mix. Some days I’m in tears because there is so little *safe* items for me to eat, and it’s such a struggle. This is why I never buy anything in a box, bag or can. Nothing my great great grandma wouldn’t recognize and know what to do with it. Then eliminate those things I know are problems, and cook in bulk. Many of my recipes are here on this site. You can find some of them here: https://migraine.com/?s=migraine+friendly&submit=Go You can make many substitutions in these to further tailor it for your specific needs. 🙂

    ~Ellen

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  • By VTLauren

    If you suspect dairy is a trigger, is it the lactose in milk etc that is causing the migraine? If lactose is the culprit, could a person drink Lactaid Milk and not suffer a migraine and still enjoy drinking milk?

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  • By Kelly

    I have all the usual triggers everyone has listed. I’ve been keeping a diary. I eat preservative free bread, the latest one has garlic in it. I use in recipes and haven’t noticed a problem. I’ve bought some cup cakes from a local bakery and checked and there are no preservative in them, plain vanilla. One of these seem to be giving me a headache. I’m eating preservative free turkey on the bread, nothing else on it. I keep researching, my coworkers like my like is crazy. I can’t seem to eat out anymore. Has anyone just given up sugar?

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  • By skinnydebs

    Hi first of all I am so grateful to have found this site. It’s is great and the info and forums are really excellent and so helpful. I have just posted on another part of the site about my triggers and questioning what people do about the weather and how they cope.

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  • By Becky

    Some of my food and drink triggers are: I can’t drink diet drinks, orange juice I can only have a little because citrus causes a migraine. I can only eat a few peanuts – not a handful, butter beans, pepperoni (except for Pizza Hut, theirs is different), can only eat all beef, not all meat or chicken or turkey hotdogs, just to name a few.

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  • By RecipeRenovator

    Hi everyone, I have been researching the migraine diet at great length, and would be interested to learn more about what people think are their triggers, and what kinds of resources would be most helpful to you.

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  • By amers

    So this holiday season i had a new trigger for my migraines appear, peppermint is now a trigger, and apparently it doesn’t matter if it a candy cane, a cookie, or in my toothpaste. I was wondering if any one else had this oddball trigger

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  • By victoria

    peppermint helps reduce or get rid of my migraines. Well for now. I use to have to drink lactose free milk because the other gave me headaches but now that’s starting to be a trigger like !

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  • By Kathy

    Recently discovered this site and forum.
    Very valuable, has given me another trigger I need to watch for.

    Known triggers, some triggers have different migraine symptoms,
    High Heat/humidity, drastic outdoor temperature in short time frames.
    Facial creams, Altitude Changes.
    Consistent sleep habits (start/end).

    Light/sound sensitivity are contributing factors.

    Food is going to be WORST to control! MSG is an obvious one, but the additives seem to be the root cause, even those flagged in 100% natural food: Phosphates, Maldextrin.
    Discovering if its not natural, I will need to eliminate it.
    Can do the meal planning, new organic grocery shopping is going to be the new deal, I guess.

    Current dilemma: Meal management while travelling for work or vacation.
    Any ideas out there?

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  • By Becky

    I LOVE pizza and as a matter of fact Pizza Hut has the only pepperoni I can eat. This weekend I got their bbq pizza, major mistake. Was taking Imitrex within 30 minutes. Must be the sauce, I can eat most bbq sauces. I know I can’t eat Walmart brand but don’t know what they had in theirs.

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  • By Becky

    OpenRoad, it is just a trial and error. I have learned I cannot eat sausage biscuits from anywhere unless it is smoked sausage. The frozen sausage doesn’t agree with me. Chicken biscuits are always a safe option. Be wary of sauces – I love Honey Mustard but know I can’t eat Wendy’s but can Applebees. I found out I can’t eat the grilled chicken at Lonestar. Just try to get food that doesn’t require preservatives – basically chicken and steak. If they have a seasoning just ask for salt and pepper not the seasoning.

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  • By designer197373

    Maybe this will help some of you with ocular migraines! 3 years ago I had 5 days straight, of 2 migraines a day and finally went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with ocular migraines and cluster headaches ( I have had them for 20yrs ). After reading many posts on websites like this, I found a post and decided to keep a journal of everything I ate, and every time a migraine hit me. After only a year I figured it out! A day before almost every migraine was some sort of Italian food or Subway. After some trial and error it Turns out “OLIVE OIL” was the trigger. Haven’t had a migraine in 2 years and man it feels great! It takes some real dedication and is kind of a pain in the rear, but if it pays off, let me tell you it is a golden ticket! After searching the web relentlessly, I have not been able to find the original post that lead me in the right direction, but if I could find that post…. I would thank that person for saving my life! So if you are reading this THANK YOU!!!!!

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    • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

      @designer197373,
      I always get excited when I hear that someone has figured out a major trigger for them. Dietary issues are among the biggest triggers for Migraineurs. The trouble is that it can take forever to figure out exactly what ingredient is causing it.
      Thank you so much for sharing!
      -Katie

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  • By fuenkchen

    Hello, I was wondering how big the gap for everyone else is between trigger and migraine onset. I sometimes have the migraine 2 days after the suspected trigger (eating chocolate or cheese). Or am i looking at the wrong triggers? Vic

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