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If you are one of the 12% of people in the US who suffer from a migraine, you clearly want to find a pain solution. Among the possible migraine solutions, you might want to consider adopting a migraine diet.

It’s a perfect way to pinpoint what foods and nutritional aspects may cause these debilitating conditions. A migraine diet can take on many forms, and is mostly based on an individual’s response to certain foods.

However, there are a few commonly identified food items that seem to trigger frequent occurrences of the condition in people. Knowing what these are and monitoring the triggers can help you to avoid bringing on a migraine.

Identify Trigger Foods To Avoid with a Migraine Diet

When putting together your diet, research shows what you should eat and also consider to be a potential risk for triggering your symptoms. Some of the foods will probably come as a bit of a shock.

In the fruit family specifically, you may want to keep an eye out for:

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Raspberries
  • Plums

If you like fruit and were shocked to see fruit on the list, you are not alone. The problem with fruit, is the fact that some may contain pollen and other allergen compounds. These items may cause the release of histamine, an organic compound, which can result in a migraine attack after eating them.

Like most things nutrition-related, different foods may cause some people to have migraines, and not others.

We’ve found a few common foods which, have been known to trigger migraine symptoms in people including:

  • Alcohol (Especially beer and red wine)
  • Cured meat
  • Chocolate
  • Preservatives for your food e.g. MSG, artificial sweeteners, nitrates and nitrites
  • Smoked fish
  • Yeast extract
  • Eggs
  • Wheat-based products
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus
  • Caffeine
  • Nuts

Why These Items Can Be Migraine Triggers

We explored a few of these items to find out why they should not be a part of your migraine diet.


Caffeine is a staple for many people, widely enjoyed and revered. As an everyday beverage and stimulant, it is often not a drink that people would give up easily.

Like most things, however, too much of it can be bad for you, and lead to symptoms of the severe headache you are trying to avoid. As such, it is recommended that you follow a case by case self-assessment, in terms of your caffeine needs and where they fit into your migraine diet.

Aged Cheese and Cured Meat

In foods such as aged cheese and cured meat, too much salt can cause dehydration. Foods too high in salt may not be the best for you to consume often, if you are prone to suffering from the condition.

Food with considerable amounts of sodium, additives, and artificial elements such as sweeteners are likely to cause migraines and should thus be avoided.


Interestingly, alcohol also contains the histamine compound (as mentioned earlier) and ethanol, a convertible chemical that can cause a major headache onset. Alcohol also encourages the production of more histamine from one’s immune system which only lends to the potential eventuality of a migraine onset increasing.


Aside from the histamine reaction we previously spoke about, the acidity in fruits such as oranges and lemons can also irritate your stomach and result in a migraine being triggered. Hence, these may be necessary items to exclude from your list.


As unfortunate as the thought of having to cut down on your chocolate, it might be a sad reality check, if you want to avoid triggering symptoms. However, we thought we’d let you know that chocolate itself may not be the direct cause of migraines.

Instead, the correlation can be drawn to hormonal changes that your body goes through. When you experience these, you may feel a craving for chocolate. It could be the hormonal changes, rather than the chocolate which can trigger a migraine.

Spicy Food

Why are chilies a possible trigger to avoid in your migraine diet you may wonder? Well, the ingestion of chilies is suspected to cause our bodies to react negatively to certain pain receptors, thus making a strong headache that much more possible.

What Should You Eat?

Fortunately, there is a great deal of research available on triggers, so that you don’t have to go through with testing everything yourself. You should tackle nutrition, as the first step, towards putting preventative measures in place.

Additionally, you might like to consider keeping a headache journal if the migraines are not subsiding.

In your diary, you should monitor how frequently they occur, their intensity each time, and what you have eaten or done before the onset. This will be helpful to take along to your doctor for a more detailed and accurate diagnosis. For the more technically inclined, there are clever migraine apps to suit your needs too.

How to Implement a Migraine Diet

When browsing the shelves at the grocery store, you need to be thinking “real deal” all the way. With this in mind, you may ask yourself what real means? Well for starters, it is suggested that you leave the items with preservatives or artificial flavorings, behind!

If it is whole and natural, this can work in better stead for your migraine diet. Admittedly, the thought of standing in the aisle, reading the ingredients for each purchase can sound a bit heavy. However, it will be worth it eventually and before long you will get a feel for choosing the correct food straight away.

What to Do About Nausea

During a migraine itself; nausea, dizziness and sensory sensitivity is an awful, uncomfortable pain for anyone to have to endure. Sometimes, nausea can be helped by snacking on something like a slice of toast or plain crackers – their lack of taste can help to counter your nausea.

Monitoring Your Eating Habits

We all have those days of unexpected interruptions and errands to run where you don’t get a moment to stop and take a lunch break. However, missing meals can cause the glucose levels in your bloodstream to drop which may result in a pounding headache emerging.

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To help this process, we would recommend better meal planning where you can. However, we realize that this is not always possible. As such, it may be an idea to rather eat a few smaller meals in a day in order to keep your blood sugar levels steady and avoid the dreaded migraine.

Dietary Changes

This may be a tad new and daunting at first, but if you do decide to start making different lifestyle choices, you will have to be intentional about it.

Depending on the severity and occurrence patterns of your headaches, you will need to practice these changes at all times, including at work, events, or social gatherings. Some people have found it helpful to embark on plant-based, ketogenic diet, or veganism as pain-safe migraine diets.

Diets that are typically conducive to reducing triggers include the following foods:

  • Rice (Brown rice in particular)
  • Natural Sweeteners e.g. vanilla extract, maple syrup
  • Dried fruit that is not part of the citrus group e.g. cherries, cranberries.
  • Orange, yellow, and green veggies

Women who are going through menstruation tend to be more susceptible to menstrual headaches or migraines, which may be linked to their lowered estrogen levels. As a result, women should try to aim for 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetables as healthy food options. These provide plant estrogens to offset the body’s fluctuating levels.

Veggies and Grains

The darker green your vegetables, and the more whole grains and beans you have, the higher the levels of magnesium will be, a factor which is commonly found by people with lower migraine occurrences.

Meat, Fish and Poultry

Should you be wondering where you may incorporate some non-veggies into the mix, you can definitely hunt down some fresh meat, fish, and poultry without too much worry about upsetting your nutrition train.

One thing to remember is that it is important to bear in mind that processed, smoked options should be avoided alongside items prepared in broths or tenderizers.

Think About a Food Diary

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A food diary may help to track everything you eat, including your body’s response to certain foods. Another way to go about this change is to embark on a two-week challenge of safe eating. With this purpose in mind, you can incorporate the recommended safer options into your routine.

Try to only focus on eating those, all the while being constantly aware of your migraines, their intensity and their rate of occurrence.

Once your two weeks are up, you can bring more food groups back into your diet slowly and cautiously, being aware the whole time of how your body is responding to them. This should help you to more easily realize where the problem areas are and to remove them from your eating plan.

Final Thoughts for Using Migraine Diets

While major dietary changes may sound like quite a task, you’ll need to be kind to yourself and take it one day at a time. A Migraine diet could be just what your body needs.

Bear in mind there are other natural and holistic solutions to dealing with this condition. From a lifestyle point of view, you could incorporate a yoga for migraines practice into your daily routine. It has shown to have benefits for the sympathetic nervous system which regulates your body responses when experiencing a migraine.

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