Diet and Headache Foods

Diet and Headache – Foods


National Headache Foundation, Published October 25, 2007

Dietary triggers do not necessarily contribute to headaches in all patients, and particular foods may trigger attacks in certain individuals on occasion. Be your own expert by keeping a log of the foods you have eaten before a migraine attack, and see whether the removal of these foods from your diet reduces or eliminates your headaches. Below is a list of foods that may trigger migraine headaches and should be avoided by sufferers.


  • Ripened cheeses – cheddar, Emmentaler, Stilton, brie and camembert
  • Permissible cheeses – American, cottage, cream cheese and Velveeta
  • Herring – pickled or dried
  • Chocolate
  • Anything fermented, pickled or marinated
  • Sour cream – no more than 1/2 cup daily
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Sourdough bread
  • Breads and crackers containing cheese or chocolate
  • Broad beans, lima beans, fava beans and snow peas
  • Foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) – soy sauce, meat tenderizers, seasoned salt
  • Figs, raisins, papayas, avocados, red plums – no more than 1/2 cup daily
  • Citrus fruits – no more than 1/2 cup daily
  • Bananas – no more than 1/2 banana daily
  • Pizza
  • Excessive amounts of tea, coffee or cola beverages – no more than 2 cups daily
  • Sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, summer sausage and hot dogs
  • Chicken livers and pâté
  • Alcoholic beverages – If you do drink, limit yourself to two normal size drinks selected from Haute Sauterne, Riesling, Seagram’s VO, Cutty Sark
  • Caffeinated beverages should be limited to 2-6 ounce brewed cups of coffee per day or the equivalent in tea. Soft drinks with caffeine should be limited to 24 ounces per day. Total amount of daily caffeine should not exceed 200 mg.

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