While there is much debate about what actually causes a migraine headache, most physicians can agree that there are certain things that can be done to help stop a migraine. Your doctor may suggest a migraine diet that limits or excludes specific foods which are known to bring on headaches and migraines.

Fasting, dehydration, and skipping meals are known headache culprits. If you suffer from frequent migraine headaches, you should keep a migraine diary to track your foods and help you identify what may be causing them. Many are surprised to learn that commonly available foods, drinks, and additives can be associated with migraines.

To prevent a migraine aged cheese and other foods that contain tyramine, a natural substance formed from the breakdown of protein in some foods, are just one of the things that patients should avoid. Patients should refrain from eating Blue cheeses, Brie, Cheddar, Feta, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Swiss, Stilton, Muenster, and other processed cheeses. These foods can cause high blood pressure, a precursor to migraine.


Alcohol is another trigger because it increases blood flow to the brain. Red wine, beer, whiskey, and champagne tend to be the culprits. Some doctors say it is the impurities found in the alcohol that cause a migraine, while others believe it is the by-products created when the body metabolizes the alcohol.

Preservatives, also known as food additives, like nitrates, should also be avoided. These have been known to dilate blood vessels which can trigger headaches in many people. Foods like hot dogs, ham, sausage, bacon, pepperoni, deli or lunch meats, and other cured or processed meats contain additives. MSG, which is known to trigger a migraine headache, is a preservative found in Chinese foods, soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and some pre-packaged foods.

Patients have also noticed these foods can bring on a migraine episode:

  • Caffeine found in chocolate, cocoa, coffee, tea, sodas, and some medications
  • Potato chips
  • Pizza
  • Organ meats like liver and gizzards
  • Baked goods that contain yeast
  • Crackers or desserts that contain cheese
  • Citrus fruits, papaya, bananas, red plums, pineapple, and kiwi
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts and peanut butter
  • Aspartame or other artificial sweeteners

Knowing what triggers your migraine headaches is half the battle. Keep a migraine diary to track the items you eat and make note of any patterns you notice. This may be the key to learning how to stop migraines.

Filed under: Types of Headaches

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