How To Keep A Food Diary
When keeping a food diary, it is important to write down everything you ate and when along with any symptoms experienced. It is also important to jot down compounding factors like the details of your menstrual flow , major weather events, outside stressors, and sleep patterns.
Mobile apps take the guesswork out since they often factor in weather in your area and perceived sleep patterns, saving you the effort of adding that data yourself. Because triggers are additive, you might be able to enjoy a triggering food one day, and find it problematic if consumed on a high-stress day when a storm is brewing outside.
Once you have a clearer picture of your own Migraine food triggers, you can choose to avoid them. Theres no need to avoid the whole laundry list of potential foods.
Migraine Again founder Paula K. Dumas gave up aged cheese for nearly 15 years before discovering it wasn’t necessary at all. For her, it wasn’t one of her personal migraine food triggers.
Cereal Food As A Migraine Trigger
Cereals have wide use in our nutrition, and you can find it in different forms. Because of this on this list we have bread, wheat and corn. Of course, the usage of cereals has its benefits on the one hand, and could cause problems on the other. Below, I will explain how this type of food can cause us problems and provoke a migraine headache.
Tyramine Is Hiding In Some Of Your Favorite Foods This Naturally Occurring Compound Is A Migraine Trigger For Some Get The Full Scoop
Migraine triggers can vary widely between individuals. And in some people, particular foods and drinks can trigger a migraine. Tyramine, a naturally produced compound found in protein-containing foods, is one of these potential triggers. 1 2 Lets dig in on how tyramine works and learn why it may be a dietary migraine trigger for some.
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Chocolate: Is It Really A Migraine Trigger
Research recently presented at the International Headache Society suggests that cocoa may actually protect the nerve cells that cause migraine headaches. But 22 percent of headache sufferers identify chocolate on the list of foods that trigger migraines or headaches. “Chocolate may be getting a bad rap as a migraine trigger,” says Dr. Rosen. “Many people with migraines have increased appetite and food cravings just before their headaches start.” Reaching for a chocolate bar may be the result of a migraine, rather than the cause.
Can Eating Too Many Bananas Give You Headaches
Increase amount of bananas when consumed can lead to many health concerns like weight gain, increase in sugar content and sometimes stimulate headaches and sleepiness. Bananas contain the amino acid tyrosine, which the body converts into tyramine. Tyramine may trigger migraine headaches attacks and pain.
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Can Certain Foods Cause Migraines
Migraines are not mere headaches: They are a serious, debilitating condition that affects 1 in 4 U.S. households. Twelve percent of the population suffers from migraines, making it the third most prevalent illness in the world, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
Bagels & Doughnuts Are Foods That Can Cause Migraines
Last, but certainly not least yeast products! Im talking about sourdoughs, bagels, doughnuts you name it! Bread products are usually seen as a safe food for most folks as theyre quite bland. However, as we mentioned above several times before sneaky tyramine is in this too! Its also in alcohol such as red wine which most often is one of the most common headache triggers for individuals. But back to bread, its not as common as alcohol or cheese as a migraine triggers but it still does affect quite a few people.
Cutting back or cutting out gluten can have other health benefits and implications so if youre going to remove it make sure to do with advice from a doctor. For myself, I try to reduce my intake as eating too many bread products I know can cause me to be more prone to a migraine.
Lets be honest when you get a migraine you already feel crummy, sluggish, and tired. Do we really need to eat bread that will just double down on most of those feelings? So next time you have an attack try to limit or reduce your intake of these types of products to see if it helps you to bounce back from your migraine quicker!
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A Few More Potential Trigger Foods
Even though weâd 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 thereâs no scientific evidence that they really cause them, so donât clean out your fridge just yet. Instead, turn to a migraine tracker to see if any of these might be causing you pain.
- Chicken livers and other organ meats
- Dairy products like buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt
- Dried fruits like dates, figs, and raisins
- Most beans including lima, fava, navy, pinto, garbanzo, lentils, and snow peas
- 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
Canned Or Processed Meats As Migraine Trigger
We defined dairy products as the first group of food triggers, as a second group, within the list of 27 foods that trigger migraines, we could categorize canned or processed meats. The problem with this type of food is that contains nitrites. With the ingestion of a large number of nitrites, you could increase their level and provoke a migraine.
Therefore, the bacon, salami, hot dogs and ham are on thislist.
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Food Drink And Additive Triggers
Perhaps because of the genetic variations, no studies exist that prove a particular food or drink ingredient triggers attacks in all migraine sufferers. There have been studies that show certain ingredients trigger attacks in some people. Theres also evidence from surveys of migraine sufferers and headache diary analysis that these triggers exist. From those research findings and anecdotal evidence from migraine sufferers a few likely culprits emerge:
It appears that some migraine sufferers dont process foods containing the amino acid tyramine in the same way that people without migraines do. A few examples of tyramine-rich foods include:
- Aged cheeses blue, Swiss, Parmesan, feta, aged cheddar
- Cured meats salami, summer sausages, pepperoni, corned beef
- Pickled foods olives, sauerkraut, kimchee
- Broad beans fava beans, snow peas
- Fermented soy products soy sauce, tofu, miso soup, teriyaki sauce
A slice of cheese in your sandwich wont necessarily trigger a migraine, says Stephen F. Knox, M.D., a neurologist with Sutter Medical Group neurologist who treats patients with migraine, but a platter of cheese, olives and salami at the party certainly could especially if you add a glass of red wine.
Some studies refute the idea that these additives trigger migraines, but the consensus seems to be that certain additives affect subgroups of migraine sufferers.
How Do I Determine Which Foods And Drinks Are My Headache Triggers
One common suggestion for figuring out your own personal headache triggers is to track the foods and drinks you consume in a daily food headache diary. You may consider yourself to be sensitive to a certain food or drink if you get a headache consistently 20 minutes to 2 hours after eating that certain food.
However, keep in mind that even though it sounds simple to track what you eat to try to figure out what foods and beverages might trigger your headache, its not this simple.
Problems with food headache trackers
Is it truly the food or drink that is causing your headache or is it one of the many ingredients or chemicals in these foods? Foods consist of many ingredients that contain many chemicals. Chemicals include nitrates/nitrites, phenylethylamine, sulfites, tannins, tyramine, salicylates, aspartate, added sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, glutamate and capsaicin to name a few.
Even beyond consumed foods, drinks and ingredients/chemicals are other factors that must be considered that may complicate identifying the true trigger of your headache. These factors include:
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What Is An Elimination Diet And Should I Try One
An elimination diet consists of removing a long list of foods from your diet that may be triggering a Migraine attack.
Elimination diets are a hot topic of debate within the Migraine community. Despite little proof of efficacy, the American Migraine Foundation explains that an elimination diet can be considered to reduce Migraine triggers. But they should be done under medical guidance so that medical and nutritional support is provided
“Besides red wine and MSG, in terms of food triggers, there really is not good enough evidence to justify elimination diets,” said Dr. Charles. “An elimination diet can really interfere with someones quality of life, and that kind of interference may be unnecessary.”
Ripe Bananas And Avocados
Youve heard nutrition experts praise bananas and avocados because of their many health benefits, but ripe bananas and avocados are also high in tyramine. Certain foods that are high in tyramine can cause migraines, says Jennifer Kriegler, MD, of the Center for Neurological Restoration at the Cleveland Clinic. Even if youre not prone to migraines, high tyramine levels can still cause headaches. Tyramine is an amino acid that most people can digest without issue. However, if a person has the enzyme monoamine oxidase deficiency or if the person is taking certain antidepressants it can interfere with the breakdown process. Ripe bananas and ripe avocados can be potent headache triggers because they contain high amounts of tyramine, says Kriegler. Make sure you know these sneaky signs youre about to have a migraine.
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Tyramine Containing Foods Are Often Cited As Migraine Triggers
If you’ve done some research on a Migraine diet, you’ve probably run across tyramine. Tyramine is a byproduct found naturally in some foodsparticularly those that are aged and fermented, like cheese.
Foods produce tyramine when the amino acid, tyrosine, is converted to epinephrine, which is an adrenal gland hormone. The resulting byproduct, tyramine can trigger Migraine attacks in those who are sensitive.
Here’s the catch: it doesn’t affect everyone equally. Some people are amine-resistant, meaning they have a difficult time breaking down any amine, tyramine included.
The American Migraine Foundations Guide To Triggers & How To Manage Them
The sudden onset of a migraine means a dark room, bed and a cool towel for most of us. While these seem to come out of nowhere, many will find that there are usually some signs that a migraine attack is on its way. These signs can reveal a pattern in your symptoms, and even provide you with preventative tools for managing migraine. Everyone has different triggers, but there are a few common culprits that affect a large number of people living with migraine. When you can identify your triggers, you are one step closer to effectively managing your migraine and avoiding future attacks.
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What Cheese Does Not Contain Tyramine
Strong or aged cheeses, such as aged cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan blue cheeses such as Stilton and Gorgonzola and Camembert. Cheeses made from pasteurized milk are less likely to contain high levels of tyramine for example, American cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, farmer cheese and cream cheese.
At The Small Plates Spot: Skip The Brie Try The Mozzarella
If youre going to start or end with a cheese plate, know that aged cheeses such as cheddar, blue, brie, Swiss, parmesan and Roquefort contain a natural compound called tyramine, which may trigger a migraine in some. The National Headache Foundation suggests limiting intake to four ounces for aged cheeses, but if youd rather not take any chances, go for fresh cheese like mozzarella and ricotta.
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Bread Grains And Cereals
- most cereals, except for those containing nuts, dried fruits, or aspartame
- plain or sesame seed bagels
- quick bread, such as pumpernickel or zucchini bread
- most plain pretzels and potato chips
- unflavored crackers, such as saltines or Club crackers
- white, wheat, rye, or pumpernickel bread from a store
Foods to avoid:
- flavored crackers, such as cheddar cheese crackers
- fresh bread that is homemade or from a grocers bakery
- pizza, as it is also a fresh bread
- highly flavored or seasoned chips
- soft pretzels
- food preservatives, such as nitrates, nitrites, MSG, and artificial sweeteners
- smoked fish
- yeast extract
Not eating anything at all can also lead to an increased incidence of migraines. For some people, prolonged hunger and not eating enough are known headache triggers. This may be due to a link between low blood sugar levels and worsening migraine headaches.
How To Identify Migraine Food Triggers
Not everyone has the same Migraine food triggers. Triggers can also be additive, meaning: a specific food may push you over the threshold into an attack only when youre exposed to other triggers at the same time, like poor sleep or extra stress.
To identify your personal food triggers, use a headache diary or app, such as Migraine Buddy or N-1 Headache , for 60-90 days.
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Fruits And Vegetables As A Migraine Trigger
One more category of food trigger I would like to add in this text is fruits and vegetables as a migraine trigger. Ingestion of fruits and vegetables is very healthy because of vitamins that we need, indeed. But specific fruits and vegetables could be a possible trigger for migraine headaches. Of course, it depends from one person to another. And it is also a very important quantity of fruit and vegetable ingestion and of course a variety of it. You probably wouldnt like to have a vitamin deficiency or vitamin suppression.
On the list below you can see some of the fruits and vegetables which I added as a migraine trigger. Specifically, chemical triggers in the case of fruits and vegetables are tyramine, PEA, nitrates, nitrites, and lots of amines. Processes and mechanisms which include these chemicals are explained above in this text. So it is the same story but different foodstuffs. Below you can see the concrete chemical trigger in each fruit and vegetable individually.
Why Is Dairy Bad For Migraines
There is not much research on cheese as a migraine trigger, but it is generally agreed that aged cheese is more likely to cause a headache, explains Rosen. The culprit may be a substance called tyramine that forms as the proteins in cheese break down over time. The longer a cheese ages, the more tyramine it has.
Tips To Help Identify Migraine Triggers
One of the most effective ways to help identify migraine triggers is through what is referred to as the elimination diet. It is designed to help you track unusual pain triggers.
You can start by developing a diet that includes pain-safe foods and avoids all the foods that could potentially cause migraine headaches. You can add new foods one at a time to see if migraine symptoms occur.
Here are a few tips to help you pinpoint triggers:
- Foods that cause headaches were eaten within three to six hours of the attacks.
- The headache did not show up until a large amount of the food was consumed.
- Tolerance can change depending on time. For example, a woman might be able to eat half a box of chocolates with no problem, but a single chocolate triggers a migraine as she approaches her period.
- Triggers can change over time.
Tracking what you eat, when you eat it, how much you eat, and how you feel after you have a meal or snack can seem tedious, but its a system that has worked for literally millions of migraine sufferers.
Pinpointing The Problem Ingredients
Unless youre lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy, its not the milk in cheese that will cause you problems. Instead, your cheese-related migraine comes down to a couple of compounds known as vasodilators, which dilate the blood vessels in your brain.
Most experts point to tyramine as the major culprit behind cheese-triggered migraines. Tyramine is an amino acid belonging to a family of compounds called amines. Amines cause blood vessels to constrict, then dilate, and if youre vulnerable to migraines, this constriction and dilation can lead straight to a pounding headache.
Tyramine develops in food as it ages or ferments. Different cheeses contain different amounts of the troublesome compound, and it can be difficult to measure each precisely. Alcohol and chocolate are also loaded with amines, so youll want to keep them out of your diet, too.
Like amines, nitrates cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can bring on a migraine. The term hot dog headaches has been used to describe the aftermath of eating processed meats treated with nitrates. Although nitrates occur naturally in a variety of foods, the amount in processed, smoked or preserved foods is much higher and very problematic for migraine sufferers.
Cured meats are the biggest offenders when it comes to nitrates, but smoked cheeses are not far behind. Get in the habit of reading ingredient labels closely to make sure there are no additives that could cause problems.
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