Eight Foods That Trigger Headaches

Certain foods can trigger migraines or other kinds of headaches. But not all common headache causes are as terrible as they're thought to be. Certain foods can trigger migraines in a small number of people, and others could be blamed incorrectly.

The feeling of discomfort in the jaw, head, or face may be a reaction to various triggers. Various factors can contribute to the pain, such as changes in the environment or the smoking of cigarettes, changes in hormone levels as well as stress, exposure to high-intensity lighting, and changes to your sleeping habits. Certain things can trigger migraines or headaches for different individuals that are discussed here.

1) Caffeine − Do you experience a headache when you miss your morning Cup of coffee, or even if you have it a little later than usual? This is because you are going through caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Caffeine in limited quantity can solve a headache but take too much of it, and you become so habitual that skipping it gives you a headache.

2) Cheese − Love to bite into your cheesy dishes regularly? There's a caveat. Older cheeses might be the reason behind your headaches. Aged cheeses have a substance called tyramine. It is formed as the proteins found in cheese break down with time. This tyramine can trigger headaches because it dilates blood vessels. The older the cheese, the more tyramine in it. Some examples of aged cheeses that have tyramine are feta, blue Cheese, parmesan, cheddar, Gouda, etc.

3) Processed Meats − Curing agents like nitrates and nitrites that are used to preserve meats, including deli meats, ham, hot dogs, and sausages. They can cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can cause a headache. To avoid a headache, reduce your intake of pepperoni, salami, summer sausage, and mortadella, and limit your portions of processed meats to three to four ounces per meal.

4) MSG − Monosodium Glutamate, which occurs in soy sauce, has skirted controversy as a common headache trigger. It is obtained from naturally occurring amino acid glutamic acid, or glutamate. MSG is also a common food additive that adds to the umami flavor of foods. It's commonly used in Asian cuisine and occurs in many processed foods such as noodles, soups, chips, snacks, etc. FDA has declared MSG as GRAS, which expands to "generally recognized as safe." But some experts still have doubts about its effect on health.

5) Artificial sweeteners − Artificial sweeteners like aspartame have been associated with headaches. However, the number of such people could be a lot bigger. However, people with migraines may be at a higher risk of contracting headaches after consuming aspartame or other artificial sweeteners. Avoid artificial sweeteners when going through other triggers such as stress, menstrual cycle, or bad weather.

6) Ice Cream − Also known as cold stimulus headaches, an ice cream headache is a stabbing headache you experience upon eating. However, you experience headaches because very cold substances pass over the palate and the back of the throat. So, the headache is more of a response to the cold than a reaction to the ice cream. You're more likely to experience an ice cream headache on a scorching day or when your body is warmer than usual. The sure way to avoid it is by slowly eating your ice cream or drinking your slushes.

7) Alcoholic Beverages − Alcohol has long been related to headaches, with the data showing that about one-third of patients with migraine experienced it as a trigger. Wine, especially, is an alcoholic beverage associated with headaches since yesteryears. It is because wines have sulfites that are used as preservatives, along with alcohol content which leads to headaches.

8) Chocolate − Chocolate may be one of the most common causes of headaches. According to a study, it is believed to be the second most popular trigger for migraine attacks, next to alcohol. Chocolate has caffeine and cocoa, both of which can bring on a headache. Also, its high sugar content can upset your blood sugar levels, releasing hormones that impact blood vessels in your head and face.

The natural foods triggers are identified from food cravings associated with migraines through the usage of a food diary. The changes you make to your diet should be discussed with your physician.

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Rest up − Sleep deprivation and migraines have been associated considerably. A meta-analysis from 2020 confirmed the bidirectional link between migraines and sleep issues. People suffering from migraines are more likely to suffer problems with sleep and sleep disturbances. Poor quality sleep is a well-known trigger for migraines. Experts recommend that patients stick to a strict sleeping routine to decrease the possibility that sleep can trigger headaches.

Let the pressure go − Migraines can also be caused by stress. Over 80 per cent of migraine sufferers during a study identified stress as the reason for headaches.

Exercise − One of the benefits is the reduction in stress that is associated with exercising. According to research released in 2018, regular exercise and strength training can reduce the frequency of migraines. However, a few studies have found that physical exercise can trigger migraines in specific individuals.

Yoga − Results from a study conducted in 2021 showed that yoga can provide the benefit of lessening stress. Alongside medicine, an investigation also revealed that regularly practising yoga decreased the frequency of migraines.

Meditation − Making sure your thoughts are in order is an excellent way to reduce stress. Studies of the effects of meditation on anxiety have found that practising mindfulness can ease migraine-related symptoms.


Because migraine sufferers react differently to different food items, the best way to treat migraines is to analyze your diet and look for patterns that appear to be recurring that could trigger migraines. You can find out what triggers headaches by eliminating items from your diet one by one. Even if your test is negative for a food allergy, it's a good idea to take care when handling such products.

People who suffer from migraines keep a journal of their symptoms to monitor the various causes. The diary allows people to note down details about the migraines they experience, such as their frequency, how long and how severe, and any food or other factor that could trigger migraines.