The 10 Worst Foods To Eat With A Migraine & 10 That Fight The Symptoms

The 10 Worst Foods To Eat With A Migraine & 10 That Fight The Symptoms

If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know it’s no ordinary headache. Alongside the hellish pain comes nausea, lightheadedness, and general fatigue—among other symptoms. While migraines hinder your chance to enjoy life, the right diet can help keep them away. Here are 10 foods known to exacerbate migraines and 10 to alleviate the pain. 

1. Certain Cheeses

Aged cheeses like cheddar, blue cheese, and parmesan contain high levels of tyramine, an amino acid known to trigger migraines in some people. Aging cheese increases the tyramine content but tends to reduce better nutrients, like protein—and what you’re left with is a more intense headache.

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2. Chocolate

For all its tasty good, chocolate comes with unfortunate bad in the form of caffeine and tyramine. Both are known to trigger migraines in susceptible people, so it’s best avoided for chronic headache sufferers. 

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3. Processed Meat

All our favorite processed meat like hot dogs, bacon, and deli meat often contain nitrates and nitrites, preservatives that can potentially trigger migraines. Unfortunately, these foods can easily cause or exacerbate headaches.

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4. Alcohol

You may want to rethink that glass of wine because alcohol is a known headache trigger. From the tyramine content to the dehydration, migraine victims can experience a pounding headache mere minutes after consumption. 

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5. Pickled Foods

Much like how the aging process in cheese boosts its tyramine, other foods' pickling or fermentation processes can achieve the same thing. Foods like pickles and sauerkraut are usually a no-no because of this. 

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6. Caffeine

Caffeine is tricky for migraine sufferers because, for some, coffee can soothe mild headache symptoms. For the unlucky remainders though, coffee consumption or even withdrawal triggers migraines. Speak with your physician about how much caffeine, if any, you’re permitted. 

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7. MSG

MSG, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate, has been known to trigger harsher headaches in some people. It’s typically found in processed food, fast food, and even classic condiments, so keep those off the menu when you can.  

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8. Ice Cream

Headache survivors don’t need any more pressure, and that includes brain freeze. Slushies, ice cream, and popsicles may be summer favorites, but they’re also a quick ticket to migraines—don’t indulge too often unless you want to pay the price.

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9. Artificial Sweeteners

A common migraine culprit is aspartame, an artificial sweetener often found in diet soda, certain chewing gum, and sugar-free desserts. Though it’s an everyday alternative to sugar, it’s well-known to cause headaches in some people. 

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10. Citrus Fruit

Acidic fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit can trigger migraine episodes in some people, so pay attention to how much you eat. The good news is that they aren’t as harmful as other foods, but it’s best to track your reaction in case you experience headaches.

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Migraine prevention can mean various lifestyle changes, such as more exercise and a proper diet—and here are some foods that help ward off incoming headaches.


1. Ginger

It’s ginger to the rescue again. This cure-all remedy treats headaches and migraines alike, and is easily incorporated into your diet. Ginger supplements, ginger tea, or a teaspoon in some water can alleviate both migraine and accompanying nausea. 

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2. Fatty Fish

Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the intensity of migraines. The reason why is that healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties, keeping inflammation down and helping reduce migraine frequency. 

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3. Leafy Greens

Magnesium can help ward off migraine symptoms, and leafy greens are chock full of it. The usual suspects like kale, spinach, and chard are rich in it and can be tossed in salads, smoothies, or sandwiches. 

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4. Sweet Potatoes

If kale doesn’t float your boat, you can always get your magnesium fix from sweet potato. Not only that, but they’re also full of complex carbohydrates and potassium, all of which can help reduce inflammation.

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5. Cucumbers 

Staying hydrated is important to ward off migraines, and cucumbers help with that. They have a high water content and anti-inflammatory properties that can significantly reduce your risk of a headache. They’re also a low-calorie option that promotes overall health. 

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6. Quinoa

Not everyone is a fan of quinoa, but try to hop the hatred hurdle because it’s a good source of magnesium and vitamins. It also comes with all kinds of fiber to regulate blood sugar levels and keep migraine risk low. 

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7. Berries

Fresh blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which help reduce inflammation. Less inflammation means the opportunity for less intense migraines, so work these into your diet.

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8. Almonds

Almonds are filled with healthy fats and magnesium, two things that can stop migraine frequency and severity. Eat a handful in between meals or include them in homemade trail mix or smoothies—however you eat them, they can keep headaches and inflammation down.

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9. Seeds

Pumpkin, chia, and flaxseed are great sources of magnesium and act as terrific front-line defenders against migraines. Seeds also come with all kinds of essential nutrients that help reduce inflammation.  

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10. Chamomile Tea

Stress is a common migraine trigger, but calming teas like chamomile can help keep you relaxed. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory known for alleviating migraine symptoms, so brew a mug next time you need a bit of peace. 

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