Like everyone else, people with migraines feel their best when they consistently eat a healthy, balanced diet. For those with migraines, what you eat and when you eat it can also play a significant role in triggering migraines.
What does it involve?
There is not one specific diet for everyone who gets migraines. Migraines are triggered in different people by different foods. In addition, it can be difficult to separate whether a food or a situation (hunger, low blood sugar, poor sleep, menstrual period) or a combination of both is actually what is triggering a headache. Consider keeping a food journal that tracks what you eat and how you feel each day to help you decide which foods to eliminate. If a food is triggering, it should cause a headache within 12 to 24 hours. Avoid the food for four weeks. If there is no change in your headache frequency, that food may not be a trigger.
Some of the most common food triggers for migraines are caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, aged or strongly flavored cheese, cured meats, citrus fruits, and food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, nitrites, nitrates, dyes, preservatives, and flavorings such as meat or vegetable extracts.
In general, choosing fresh and unprocessed food will help you avoid many common food triggers. Foods that are processed or refined are more likely to contain preservatives, dyes, and other additives.
When you eat can be just as important as what you eat. Eating several small meals a day on a regular schedule can help you avoid hunger and low blood sugar, both of which can trigger migraines.
Always consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.
Eating nutritious meals at regular intervals and avoiding triggering foods can help prevent some migraines.
Studies have found that eating regular meals can help reduce migraines in some people.
It can be difficult to eliminate all triggering foods. You may feel disappointed to give up favorite foods. However, think of diet changes as a chance to explore unfamiliar foods and find new favorites.
Migraine symptoms and medication side effects may make it harder to find the energy to prepare fresh, healthy meals instead of choosing processed options.
Depending on where you live, it may be harder to get to a grocery store with a good selection of produce and other healthy foods.
The Role of Diet in Migraine Headaches – American Nutrition Association
What do I do when I get to the Grocery Store? – Association of Migraine Disorders
Migraine safe foods by category – Association of Migraine Disorders
Controversies in Headache Medicine: Migraine Prevention Diets – American Migraine Foundation