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Common migraine trigger foods: Trigger Foods: 10 Foods to Avoid If You Get Migraine Headaches

Trigger Foods: 10 Foods to Avoid If You Get Migraine Headaches

Living With Migraine

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You might already know about common migraine triggers like stress, lack of sleep, and even exercise (no, seriously), but did you know that what you’re eating could also be giving you headaches?

That’s right—even if your migraine attacks are typically triggered by visual stimuli like flashing lights, avoiding the foods below could help reduce the frequency or severity of your attacks.

Of course, the relationship between food and migraine isn’t clear-cut, and unfortunately, no single factor can be directly tied to your attacks. That said, there’s scientific evidence that suggests attacks may be triggered by certain foods. Additionally, 27% of those who experience migraine believe that particular foods are personally triggering.

According to Dr. Sara Crystal, clinical neurologist and Cove Medical Director, certain foods and additives are more likely to trigger headaches in a higher percentage of migraineurs, but even among individuals, other factors like stress, hormonal changes, and lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of an attack after consuming a known trigger.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of the most common food triggers for migraine sufferers, in no particular order.

We know that some of you are probably groaning when you see this, but research shows that excessive caffeine consumption can trigger migraine attacks, and both a 2016 study and a 2019 study suggest cutting back on coffee can help reduce migraine frequency.

Now, if you can’t start your day without coffee, note the use of the word “excessive.” We know that the caffeine boost can feel like a lifesaver at times, and if that’s the case, drink it! But try to limit yourself to less than two cups per day.

Nope, it’s not just you. Studies confirm that alcoholic beverages are a common trigger, with certain chemicals in alcohol like tyramine and histamine believed to be the problem. Red wine, a commonly-reported trigger, contains a lot of histamine.

Unfortunately for cheese lovers, this delicacy can also be a trigger for migraine symptoms. Again, the culprit is tyramine. Blue cheese, brie, cheddar, swiss, feta, mozzarella, and most other common cheeses are good to avoid.

125rem” font-weight=”lighter”>We hate to (continue to) be the bearers of bad news, but chocolate can also sabotage your chances of avoiding migraine attacks. One study found that, compared to a placebo, chocolate triggered an attack in 42% of its subjects.

While eating lots of fresh fruit is a great way to avoid attacks (and stay healthy!), you might want to be careful with citrus fruits. While some people say oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes give them headaches, they’re not as common a trigger as some of the other foods on this list. Try tracking your migraine to see if avoiding these fruits makes a difference for you.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, listen up: Research suggests that artificial sweeteners like aspartame commonly found in Diet Coke and other calorie-free drinks may increase the risk of migraine headaches.

125rem” font-weight=”lighter”>Foods that contain yeast—like sourdough bread and fresh-baked goods such as donuts, cakes, and breads—have been known to trigger migraine attacks. The sneaky ingredient is (you guessed it) tyramine, the same culprit found within alcohol and cheese.

MSG is a flavor enhancer used in a variety of processed foods, like frozen or canned foods, soups, snacks, seasoning, and more. A 2016 review of the available science concluded that MSG is no more likely to cause a headache or migraine than placebo, but many migraine sufferers say MSG is a trigger for them.

Cured and processed meats (think: bacon, sausage, ham, and deli meats) often include nitrites and nitrates, known migraine triggers used to preserve their color and flavor. One study found that 5% of subjects with migraine history were statistically more likely to experience head pain on days they consumed nitrites, so make sure you check the ingredients you leave the grocery store with that pack of bacon.

Addicted to almond butter? Prepare for some bad news: almonds, peanuts, and many other nuts and seeds contain tyramine, and you know what that means. Like all triggers, not all migraine sufferers are sensitive to nuts, so a trial and error may be the key to figuring out if you are.

Even though we’d hate to take the fun out of even more of your favorite foods, we should let you know about these other potential trigger foods. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these foods are commonly reported as migraine triggers, but there’s no scientific evidence that they really cause them, so don’t clean out your fridge just yet. Instead, turn to a migraine tracker to see if any of these might be causing you pain.

  • avocados
  • chicken livers and other organ meats
  • dairy products like buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt
  • dried fruits like dates, figs, and raisins
  • garlic
  • most beans including lima, fava, navy, pinto, garbanzo, lentils, and snow peas
  • onions
  • pickled foods like olives, sauerkraut, and, of course, pickles
  • potato chips
  • some fresh fruits like ripe bananas, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi, and pineapple
  • smoked or dried fish
  • tomato-based products (including pizza!)

125rem” font-weight=”lighter”>So how do you know which of these foods (if any) are actually triggering your attacks? Since food affects all migraine sufferers differently, the best thing you can do is examine your eating habits and identify patterns that could be potential triggers. By slowly eliminating foods one-by-one, you can start to recognize what spurs your headaches. Food allergy testing can also be helpful, though you should still be wary of certain foods even if you aren’t allergic to them.

To keep track of your habits, Dr. Crystal recommends keeping a careful food diary for at least one month to record what you do and don’t eat. If something is a trigger, an attack will likely hit 12 to 24 hours post-consumption. You’ll be able to trace the pain back to the source—or at the very least, narrow it down.

We know reading this might make you feel like you’ll have to start living off of nothing but water if you want to avoid debilitating pain, but it’s important to remember that not all of these foods are triggers for every sufferer (and for many sufferers, hunger can be a bigger trigger than any specific food). Migraine is personal, and the only way to learn your specific triggers is to track your migraine, make one adjustment at a time, and see what helps.

And, of course, not all foods are your enemy. Check out this article for a list of migraine-safe foods or this roundup of migraine-safe recipes.

Rather not change your whole diet to avoid migraine attacks? Cove offers a variety of dietary supplements you can purchase without a prescription at our Wellness Shop, or you can connect with a doctor who specializes in migraine today to discuss other options.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.


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Tips for Avoiding Migraine Triggers

In this Article

With migraines, one of the best things you can do is learn your personal triggers that bring on the pain. Red wine, caffeine withdrawal, stress, and skipped meals are among the common culprits.

The first step is to track your migraine symptoms in a diary. Note what you were doing before and when your headache came on. What were you eating? How much sleep did you get the night before? Did anything stressful or important happen that day? These are key clues.

Learn Your Migraine Triggers

When you look at your diary, you might find that these things tend to lead to a migraine:

  • Stress
  • Menstrual periods
  • Changes in your normal sleep pattern
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Certain foods and drinks
  • Too much caffeineor withdrawal from it
  • Alcohol
  • Skipping meals or fasting
  • Changes in the weather
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Bright, flickering lights
  • Certain smells

7 Steps to Avoid Migraine Triggers

  1. Watch what you eat and drink. If you get a headache, write down the foods and drinks you had before it started. If you see a pattern over time, stay away from that item.
  2. Eat regularly. Don’t skip meals.
  3. Curb the caffeine. Daily caffeine can raise the risk for migraines in some people. If you’re one of them, slowly cut down on caffeine. (That’s because suddenly missing your morning coffee can actually trigger a migraine headache.)
  4. Be careful with exercise. Everyone needs regular physical activity. It’s a key part of being healthy. But it can trigger headaches for some people. If you’re one of them, you can still work out. Ask your doctor what would help.
  5. Get regular shut-eye. If your sleephabits get thrown off, or if you’re very tired, that can make a migraine more likely.
  6. Downsize your stress. There are many ways to do it. You could exercise, meditate, pray, spend time with people you love, and do things you enjoy. If you can change some of the things that make you tense, set up a plan for that. Counseling and stress management classes are great to try, too. You can also look into biofeedback, where you learn how to influence certain things (like your heart rate and breathing) to calm down stress.
  7. Keep up your energy. Eat on a regular schedule, and don’t let yourself get dehydrated.

Migraine Trigger Foods

These things are migraine triggers for some people:

  • Foods that have tyramine in them, such as aged cheeses (like blue cheese or Parmesan), smoked fish, and Chianti wine
  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Caffeine, which is in coffee, tea, colas, and other sodas
  • Foods made with nitrates, such as pepperoni, hot dogs, and lunch meats
  • Dried fruits
  • Potato chips
  • Pizza, peanuts, and chicken livers
  • Bread and other baked goods with yeast, such as sourdough bread, bagels, doughnuts, and coffee cake
  • Chocolate
  • Cultured dairy products (like yogurt and kefir)
  • Fruits or juices such as citrus fruits, dried fruits, bananas, raspberries, red plums, papayas, passion fruit, figs, dates, and avocados
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Olives
  • Soy products (miso, tempeh, soy sauce)
  • Tomatoes
  • Vegetables like onions, pea pods, some beans, corn, and sauerkraut
  • Vinegar


How Do Triggers Work?

An easy way to think of a trigger is that it’s like a light switch: When it’s flipped on, a process starts in your brain that can end in pain and other migraine symptoms.

But it’s not as simple as cause and effect. Something that triggers a migraine one day may not have the same effect on another. You’re probably more likely to get a migraine if more than one of your triggers is present.

Types of Stress Triggers

Triggers vary from person to person but are often related to stress, whether it’s:

  • Physical, such as dehydration, sleep loss, or hormone changes
  • Emotional, like anxiety
  • Environmental, such as changes in the weather

© 2023 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


Cleveland Clinic: “Migraines,” “Migraine Headache Diary,” “Migraines: Specific Foods,” “Migraines: Exercise,” “Migraines: Stress.”

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “NINDS Migraine Information Page.”

Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Migraine Fact Sheet.”

Sutter Health: “Common Migraine Headache Triggers.”

National Migraine Centre: “Migraine triggers?”

10 foods that cause headaches

Headache can be provoked by various, sometimes unexpected, causes or triggers. Their identification is often very difficult. These include environmental factors, concomitant diseases, fatigue, stress. Food is also one of those triggers.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, food triggers, combined with other migraine triggers, are among the most significant.

“Up to 10% of the population is sensitive to food triggers that can cause migraines. However, identifying the food that triggers it is very difficult,” says Belinda Savage-Edwards, a headache specialist.
Since every person is different, it is impossible to give absolute and clear recommendations on what foods to avoid. What negatively affects one person will not necessarily have a similar effect on another. However, there are some foods and ingredients that are relatively common in causing headaches and migraines.

1. Beverages containing caffeine – tea, coffee, cola. Scientists conducted studies in which people suffering from headaches gradually stopped consuming caffeinated products. In one of them, which focused on children and adolescents, 92% of participants (33 people) stopped their headaches after caffeine withdrawal. In another study, stopping it helped many adults better than medication.

2. Aged Cheeses – Blue Cheese, Brie, Cheddar, English Stilton, Feta, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Muenster, Parmesan, Swiss. The point is a substance called tyramine, which is formed during the breakdown of proteins in the processes of aging and decay. The longer the cheese is aged, the higher the tyramine content.

3. Alcohol is one of the main migraine triggers. Red wine, beer, whiskey and champagne are triggers for approximately 25% of people who suffer from regular migraines. Tyramine and tannins contained in drinks play a role, as well as dehydration after drinking.

4. Chocolate is a trigger affecting approximately 22% of people who experience migraines. In addition to the already mentioned caffeine, it contains beta-phenylethylamine, which dilates the blood vessels of the brain.

5. Artificial sweeteners. They are found in many processed foods and are also used as an alternative to sugar for people with diabetes. In particular, the most popular trigger is aspartame, according to the Mayo Clinic.

6. Products containing monosodium glutamate – frozen and canned foods, snacks, salad dressings, sauces. Researchers note that glutamate can provoke migraine attacks in 10-15% of those who suffer from it. Instead of monosodium glutamate, products may contain potassium glutamate, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed protein, and sodium caseinate. All of these ingredients are also triggers.

7. Processed meat – deli meats, ham, sausages, sausages. In addition to the already mentioned monosodium glutamate, they contain nitric oxide, thanks to which the color and taste of the products are preserved. When nitric oxide enters the bloodstream, the blood vessels in the brain dilate, causing headaches or migraines.

8. Pickled and fermented products – olives, sauerkraut, kombucha. They also contain a large amount of tyramine.

9. Frozen foods – ice cream, smoothies, ice milk. Eating or drinking them quickly after physical activity or when overheated can provoke a severe stabbing headache.

10. Salty food, increases blood pressure, causes headaches and migraines. Salty processed foods that additionally contain the preservatives mentioned above are especially dangerous.

At the same time, there are also paradoxical studies that an increased amount of salt in the diet is associated with fewer attacks of severe headaches and migraines.
Nutritionists do not recommend giving up these products immediately. It is necessary to remove one of them for about 2 months, and then reintroduce it into your diet. If a headache occurs within the next 24 hours, and there are no other aggravating factors (menstruation, lack of sleep, hunger or thirst), the culprit may have been found.

Headache treatment with botulinum toxin: what is important to know

Migraine is a disease of the nervous system, which is manifested by attacks of headache of varying intensity: from moderate to very severe.

Botulinum therapy – anti-wrinkle injections Botox, Dysport, Xeomin

Anti-wrinkle injections are a natural protein that interrupts this process, smoothing wrinkles. For the period of action of anti-wrinkle drugs, there is no trace left!


Juvederm is a hyaluronic acid filler. It is one of the most common preparations for contouring wrinkles, eliminating deep nasolabial folds and giving extra volume to the lips.


Xeomin (Xeomin, Germany) is a new generation drug containing pure neurotoxin type A, produced by a strain of microorganism Clostridium botulinum type A.

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Thank you, we have submitted your question to Named products that cause migraine0003

Named foods that cause migraines – RIA Novosti, 11/18/2020

Named foods that cause migraines This is reported by Business Insider. RIA Novosti, 18.11.2020








06 MOSCOW, November 18 – RIA Novosti. New York professor, neurologist Thomas Burke listed eight foods that cause migraines. This is reported by Business Insider. The doctor explained that there are no universal products – migraine triggers, as they may differ for each patient. One of the causes of migraine can be caffeine. A 2016 study found that avoiding caffeine, as well as drinking too much of it, can cause migraines. Burke said some patients avoid alcohol to avoid headaches. As it turned out, this behavior is quite reasonable – about a third of migraine cases are caused by this very reason. And the most common migraine-inducing drink was red wine. “Studies have not determined whether sulfites, tannins, or any other natural chemicals in wine cause migraine triggers,” the doctor said. Monosodium glutamate, the sodium salt of glutamic acid, was the most common migraine trigger. At the same time, Burke notes that in some patients, on the contrary, the pain may recede thanks to this product. The doctor separately dwelled on sausage and other meat products. The nitrates and nitrites they contain, which are added to enhance the taste, can also cause migraines. Salty foods can also cause severe headaches. They increase blood pressure, which leads to migraines. In addition, the doctor urged to be careful with the common sweetener aspartame contained in many products. Burke also focused on aged cheeses – parmesan, brie and others. They, like other foods that are fermented by the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine, contain tyramine. This substance causes headaches by constricting and expanding blood vessels.



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MOSCOW, November 18 – RIA Novosti. New York professor, neurologist Thomas Burke listed eight foods that cause migraines. This is reported by Business Insider.

The doctor explained that there are no universal products – migraine triggers, since for each patient they may be different.

One of the causes of migraines can be caffeine. A 2016 study found that caffeine withdrawal, as well as excessive caffeine intake, can cause migraines.

Burke said that some patients refuse alcohol to avoid headaches. As it turned out, this behavior is quite reasonable – about a third of migraine cases are caused by this very reason. And the most common migraine-inducing drink was red wine.

The State Duma proposed to direct taxes from fast food to fight obesity

November 6, 2020, 06:22

“Studies have not determined whether sulfites, tannins or any other natural chemicals in wine are the cause of migraine triggers,” the doctor said.

Monosodium glutamate, the sodium salt of glutamic acid, turned out to be the most common migraine provocateur.

Migraine can also be caused by eating chocolate.