Everyone knows how important it is to eat a well-rounded meal. A healthy meal plan can ensure that your body gets the nutrients that it needs. When the body is properly nourished, the odds of developing a migraine or other type of headache decrease exponentially. Conversely, there are certain foods that trigger migraines such as sugary snacks, processed foods and other unhealthy foods.

If you suffer with migraines, learning the triggers that can cause your pain is of the utmost importance. It is quite common for certain foods to trigger a migraine. We have gathered the top tips to help decrease your risk of a migraine as well as sharing the six foods every migraine sufferer should avoid.

Healthy Eating

Although everyone who suffers from migraines will not necessarily have food intolerances, you can benefit by making healthier food choices. Rather than eating three large meals, it is recommended that you eat five or six small meals to help prevent headaches. Doing this will help decrease the risk of hunger-based headaches, and it will keep your glucose levels steady, which can also reduce the risk of a headache. Some good quality brain vitamins may also help.

Food Journal

Keeping a food journal can help you identify potential food triggers. Write down everything you eat and drink every day for a month. Then make note of anytime in which a headache occurs. You may begin to see a pattern of potential food triggers. Then, begin to take one food item out of your diet for at least two weeks to see if your headaches subside. If your headache subsides you can then try to add the food item back into your diet just to be sure that this is the item causing your headache. Know that some of the most common food triggers include artificial sweeteners, processed foods containing MSG, red wine, beer, and chocolate. Let’s look at the top six foods to avoid that cause migraines and headaches.

Foods that Trigger Migraines and Headaches


Chocolate may be the answer to your sugar cravings; however, it can also trigger a migraine headache for certain individuals. A study published in the National Institutes of Health reports that a small portion of migraine sufferers report that chocolate is a trigger. However, researchers are unsure if chocolate actually triggers a migraine headache or if there is a chocolate craving at the beginning of a headache as a way of protecting nerve cells in the head.

Red Wine, Beer, and Other Alcohol

Red wine has sulfites that are used to help with preservation and these sulfites can trigger a migraine. Additionally, alcohol found in wine, beer, and other beverages promotes dehydration, one of the most common causes of a migraine. Drinking beer, red wine, and other types of alcohol double the risk of a headache. Alcoholic beverages have been shown to cause cluster headaches as well as migraine headaches.

Aged Cheese

Aged cheese contains tyramine, which promotes headache pain. Tyramine forms as cheese ages and the proteins found in cheese begin to break down. The more cheese ages, the more tyramine develops in the cheese. To help protect against migraines, avoid consuming cheese high in tyramine, such as Swiss, blue, cheddar, parmesan, and gouda cheese. Following a low tyramine diet can help decrease the risk of developing a headache or migraine.

Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium glutamate is an additive found in numerous foods including soy sauce. Monosodium glutamate, or MSG for short, has been shown to cause diarrhea, headaches, and abdominal cramps in migraine sufferers. Additionally, soy salt contains high amounts of sodium, which can cause dehydration and in turn a headache.

Ice Cream

If you have ever experienced a brain freeze from eating ice cream, you know the pain of consuming cold foods too quickly. Many people are unaware that cold foods like ice cream, popsicles, or milkshakes can trigger a migraine. To avoid a headache, take your time when enjoying ice cream and other cold food items.

Processed Meats

Processed meats are filled with preservatives called nitrates. These nitrates dilate blood vessels and increase the risk of developing a headache. Additionally, processed meats contain salt, nitrates, and phosphates that can cause dehydration, which can lead to cluster headaches and migraine headaches. Limit your consumption of processed meats and other foods containing nitrates.


Millions of Americans experience headaches regularly. Many do not associate their dietary choices with their pain. Identifying your triggers and avoiding these food items and eating a healthy diet can reduce your risk of headaches.

If you experience headaches often and are ready to say goodbye to this uncomfortable symptom, it is advisable to find a migraine doctor who can help develop a personalized treatment plan including lifestyle changes and a customized diet plan. This will help prevent and reduce the frequency of headaches.