What is a migraine? Why migraine happens. Who gets migraines? Treating migraines.

Don't Eat That!

While not everyone will have a migraine for the same reason, there are certain foods that have been found to trigger migraines. If you get migraines a great deal, you may want to consider this list and pay attention to your own migraines. Keep a journal of your food consumption and write down when your migraines occur. Take a look after a week or two and see if there is pattern that relates to the foods you eat and the migraines you experience.

Cheeses & Other Foods with Tyramine

Tyramine is a substance that is naturally found in foods. It occurs as a result of the breakdown in proteins as food ages. Therefore, it's often food in aged cheeses, red wine, alcoholic beverages and some processed meats. These foods, and the tyramine in them, can trigger migraines and should be avoided if you find a pattern as such. Cheeses that have high tyramine levels include: blue cheeses, brie, cheddar, stilton, feta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, muenster, parmesan, Swiss and processed cheese. Other foods with high tyramine levels include processed meats; fava, broad, garbanzo, lima and pinto beans; onions; olives; pickles; avocados; raisins and canned soups.


When you drink alcohol, the blood flow to your brain increases. Some scientists say that headaches are due to impurities in alcohol or to by-products that are produced as your body metabolizes the alcohol. Pay attention to your consumption of red wine, beer, whiskey and champagne, as these are said to be the most common headache inducers.

Cold Foods

We've all had brain freeze when we've eaten something that was too cold. This pain is felt in the forehead and it lasts for several seconds to one to two minutes, with 25 to 60 seconds that are the worst. Interestingly, more than 90% of people who suffer from migraines report that they have sensitivity to ice cream and to other cold substances. This is not to say that having a cold drink or an ice cream cone will cause your migraine - but it is to say that it may create more sensitivity in people who are already prone to migraines.

Food Additives

Certain foods which contain food preservatives can trigger headaches. These additives, nitrates and nitrites make the blood vessels dilate and cause headaches. The most common foods that include many food additives are: hot dogs; ham; sausage; bacon; deli-style meats; pepperoni; other processed meats; some heart medications; and MSG.

Other Headache Triggering Foods

In addition, there are other foods that have been identified as triggering headaches and migraines. This is not true for all sufferers, but is common in many headache sufferers. These foods include peanuts, peanut butter and nuts. They include pizza, potato chips, dried fish, sourdough bread and other fresh baked yeast products. Some fresh fruit induces headaches including ripe bananas, citrus fruits, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi and pineapple. Dried fruits, soups made from meat extracts or bouillon, cultured dairy products and artificial sweeteners are all triggers. Finally, caffeine is a major culprit and should be avoided by anyone with frequent headaches.

Taking a look at what you eat and keeping track of your patterns may help you to isolate the food triggers for your headaches. Eating a balanced diet and exercising can certainly only help your overall health, and hopefully help with your migraines as well.