As a migraine sufferer, you may know the importance of getting enough sleep, practicing stress management, and drinking enough water. But what doesn’t get talked about as much is diet and the huge role it plays in your migraine attacks.
You might have heard that it’s important to avoid having too much caffeine, red wine, and dark chocolate. But there are many more foods that can make your migraines worse.
In this guide from Aculief, we go over the different foods that can trigger your migraines. In the end, we list our six favorite migraine-friendly snacks — to make your summer noshin’ as yummy as possible.
Can Food Really Trigger Migraines?
Food is a very common migraine trigger. There are numerous substances in various foods that can trigger migraines in some people.
For instance, tyramine — an amino acid that regulates some aspects of blood pressure — is a significant migraine trigger. It can cause some nerve cells in the brain to release norepinephrine, which can lead to changes in blood flow that cause headaches.
Histamine is another chemical that causes changes in blood flow. After consuming histamine-containing foods, you may experience dilated blood vessels, which can result in a migraine if your body doesn’t break it down properly.
Some migraine sufferers also experience a headache after consuming “fake” ingredients, such as preservatives, artificial flavors, and artificial sweeteners.
Then, of course, there are highly individual migraine triggers that may affect only a small portion of the population. For instance, some migraine sufferers are highly sensitive to tannins, which are plant compounds that give red wine its bitter flavor.
In sum, every migraine sufferer is unique. It may take different foods in different amounts to trigger a migraine attack. However, knowing the most common food triggers gives you a good place to start.
What Should I Eat for Migraines?
When it comes to preventing migraines, it’s more about what you don’t eat than what you do eat. To keep migraines at bay, try eliminating the following foods:
- Caffeine: While one cup will likely not cause a migriane, too much can lead to caffeine withdrawl and increase how severe your migraine feels.
- Some alcohol: While red wine is a common trigger, you should find out which alcohols make your migraines worse.
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG): This sneaky ingredient can also be labeled as carrageenan, yeast extract, protein isolate, and many other names.
- Processed meats: This includes anything that’s smoked, cured, aged, canned, or fermented.
- Aged cheese: The more aged, the worse it is. However, fresh cheese (like ricotta) can be safe for migraine sufferers.
- Nuts: Unfortunately, all nuts have to be eliminated, which includes nut butters. Peanuts are technically legumes, but they should be eliminated, as well.
- Freshly-baked goods: If it contains yeast, it should be eliminated.
- Artificial sweeteners: Aspartame is the most common culprit, although another artificial sweetener may do it for you.
- Citrus fruit
- Nightshade plants: This includes onions, tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes.
Not all of the above will trigger migraines for you. But until you know for certain what your migraine triggers are, it might help to eliminate as much as possible to see if symptoms subside.
6 Best Seasonal Summer Snacks That Are Migraine-Friendly
After eliminating the above, you may feel like there’s nothing left for you to snack on. However, there are plenty of delicious options remaining. Here are six of our favorite summer snacks to keep migraines at bay.
1. “Clean” Grilled Sausage
All meat — including chicken, beef, pork, and turkey — are fair game when it comes to migraines. And what’s better this summer than grilled sausage?
While many sausage brands include preservatives, MSG, onions, and even some artificial flavors, you can find a “clean” sausage that’s free of these ingredients. Once you do, you can grill them batches at a time so you have a delicious protein-rich snack ready all day.
However, you might want to grill the sausage as lightly as possible. The char marks caused by grilling can be a potential migraine trigger for some people.
A summer classic, corn-on-the-cob is a totally migraine-friendly snack.
Even better news? Butter is also safe for migraines and makes the perfect accompaniment to grilled or boiled corn.
Same as above, try to minimize char marks when grilling corn. Or better yet, wrap it in aluminum foil before throwing it on the grill.
3. Grilled Zucchini
If you miss grilled eggplant or grilled tomatoes, then grilled zucchini can make the perfect substitute. It tastes just as good cold as it does hot off the grill.
However, keep in mind: Most grilled zucchini recipes ask you to marinate the vegetable in red vinegar, which should be avoided. Instead, use a combination of salt, pepper, and olive oil to give it some flavor.
4. Fresh Cheese, Grapes, and Crackers
While aged cheese is off the table when it comes to migraines, fresh cheese is totally safe. Some of our favorite options include fluffy ricotta, soft mozzarella, and creamy goat cheese.
Pair them with migraine-safe green grapes and unflavored crackers.
5. Sliced Watermelon
A classic summer fruit, watermelon is not a known migraine trigger, which makes it safe for migraines. Plus, it’s chock-full of water, which can support your hydration levels and keep one potential migraine trigger — dehydration — at bay.
6. White-Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
While regular chocolate is off-limits, white chocolate actually doesn’t contain any of the migraine-inducing cacao. This can make it a great option for satisfying your chocolate cravings.
White chocolate is even better when paired with our favorite summer berry: strawberries. Not only is it a delicious snack, but it’s a great way to finish off any meal for those with a serious sweet tooth.
Finding Relief With Aculief
Food is a significant trigger of migraines. Eliminating common food triggers can help you find some migraine relief. However, your diet is only part of the equation.
When it comes to managing migraines, it’s important to have other tools in your arsenal. Aculief’s selection of migraine-relieving products — including our award-winning Aculief Wearable Acupressure™ — can be what you need to find all-around relief from migraine pain.