Migraine is not just headaches but an issue of “brain state,” meaning senses like touch, sight, and smell are also affected during a migraine. If you experience migraines, you know that they can be brought on by a variety of factors. These can include high-stress levels, sleep disruptions, weather changes, and your diet, including what you eat and drink, and when.
“Dietary triggers are some of the more common triggers reported by people with migraines, living with migraines can be trying to figure out what triggers them. “You might have a glass of red wine one time and have a headache, [but] another time, you don’t,”
A diet with a variety of good foods will make a big difference both in migraine management and overall health and may improve imbalances that contribute to headaches, says Brown.
If you’re looking for ways to change your diet to better manage your migraine, here are some expert tips on the foods and drinks to help you on your journey.
Eating a nutritious, well-rounded diet is important for everyone, but processed foods can be especially high in migraine-triggering substances. Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, and lean meats are helping in migraine. Here’s a list of foods to avoid:
Although a nutritious diet is important, you should also be aware that even some healthy foods can trigger migraines. These include:
So it’s good to pay attention to what you’re eating and if you get a migraine after consuming it, even if you stick to mostly fresh foods.
In particular, eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease inflammation, while foods high in omega-6 fatty acids may increase inflammation. “It’s the ratio of those foods that’s important; it’s not just eating omega-3s,”
The study also found that low-fat diets can help reduce migraines in some people, but remember to work with your doctor on any major diet changes. “You should always discuss dietary changes with your healthcare provider prior to making them to ensure that they are safe for you,”
Staying hydrated is key when it comes to migraine management because dehydration is a common migraine trigger. In fact, mild to moderate headaches can be a sign of dehydration. Aim to drink eight 8-glasses of water each day, though your ideal intake may vary based on other factors. You might need to drink more water when it’s hot or dry outside or when you exercise. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also require a higher fluid intake.
Caffeine, which is found in tea, coffee, and soda, has a delicate relationship with migraines. Because it contains pain-relieving properties, caffeine can actually help people who are in the midst of a migraine attack; in fact, it’s a common ingredient in headache relief medication. In small amounts, regular caffeine consumption probably won’t hurt. “For most people with migraines, 1 cup of caffeine a day is fine, unless their headaches are really extreme,”
People who consume too much caffeine can build up a tolerance that increases their risk of experiencing caffeine withdrawal symptoms when they stop consuming it, including anxiety and headache.
To be on the safe side, try limiting your caffeine intake (for example, no more than 2.8-oz cups of coffee or tea), unless you find that even a small amount triggers a migraine for you.
There are many possible food triggers tied to migraines, and the ones that affect you might be different from the ones that affect someone else. In addition, it can be hard to pinpoint whether a particular food is really a trigger for you. “Our diets consist of many different things. If you get frequent headaches, it becomes difficult to know which headaches are by chance and which may be associated with parts of your diet,”
Keeping a food diary can help. Try writing down what you eat each day and whether you experience a migraine soon after. If you suspect something is a trigger, you can then try to eliminate it from your diet to see if it reduces the number of migraines you experience.
Even if you don’t have any food triggers, there’s one diet habit that is linked to migraines: skipping meals. The American Migraine Foundation suggests eating five or six small, calorie-controlled meals throughout the day. This can help you prevent hunger-related headaches, keep your blood sugar on an even keel, and avoid eating large amounts of any foods that could trigger a headache.
A healthy weight isn’t just good for your overall health; it can also reduce the frequency of your migraines
If you need to lose weight, work with Dr, Navin Tiwari to develop a diet and exercise plan. It’s also important to coordinate with your doctor because migraine medication can impact your weight as well.