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Avoiding Foods That Trigger Migraines

Written and verified by Holly Hazen

Identifying the exact foods that trigger migraines for you is trial and error. Experts say the offending food must trigger 100% of the time to be a true trigger.

So where does that leave you, in desperation, to find out what to avoid? There are some well known food triggers, but everyone has different reactions to food. It can get a little confusing.

Here's a list of what foods you should avoid just in case they trigger a migraine attack? @migrainesavvy

Plus different philosophies have different causes and triggers for migraines. And they often disagree with each others methods. 

For example these four potential migraine triggers are taken from the macrobiotic ideology:

  • Any food that causes fatigue or indigestion can indicate allergy or food trigger;
  • Anything spicy;
  • Any food with additives using "E numbers", for more details please see my migraines and food article;
  • All microwaved food.

The macrobiotic diet leans towards eating pickled condiments with each meal to aid digestion, which does not suit us migraineurs. I've written more about that here - Migraine Headaches Diet And Macrobiotic Food.

Chinese medicine says to stay away from hot foods due to the Liver Fire Blazing Upwards pattern associated with migraine.

You need herbs and foods that nourish the Yin and dispel heat. It would also consider climate, time of year, and your individual constitution first.

One example is red skinned apples, ginger and cardamom are considered hot. Green skinned apples, on the other hand, are better, as are cucumbers and soft juicy fruits. These are cooling foods.

Contrary to western medicine, coffee is not recommend in Chinese medicine to aid migraine sufferers. It is considered to be hot and too stimulating.

Foods that Trigger Migraines - coffee is considered to be hot and too stimulating.Coffee is considered to be hot and too stimulating.

I believe that using these 'diets' or ways of looking at food are not one size fits all. We cannot feed everyone according to the same rules.

What triggers me may never trigger you and vice versa. So you need to become a detective and find an effective, healthy way to determine YOUR food triggers.

So here's the A-Z list to help you get started.

Food is one thing we can control.

Click here for my Migraine Pain Management course, it's FREE to enroll >>

Can You Avoid All of These? I Think Not! And It Wouldn't Be Healthy To Do That

Here is the A-Z list for you to consider testing and then avoiding if they trigger and attack (you pick the percentage):

All Nuts


Any meat that is aged, fermented, salted or smoked – salami, peperoni

Artificial sweeteners



Beef Livers


Blackberries (tannins)

Black Tea




Chewing gum

Citrus Fruit

Citrus Fruit juices

Chicken Livers


Coffee can trigger or help stop migraine attacks.


Cola or caffeinated soda products

Cooking with aluminum pans

Cooking with Teflon coated cookware

Cooking with unsaturated oils – Canola Oil


Cranberries (tannins)

Dairy products (some)


Dried fruits (preserved with sulphites - raisins, figs)

Drinking out of plastic bottles

Eating out of hot plastic take away containers

Eggs (Organic is acceptable)

Fresh Raspberries

Fresh Strawberries

Green Tea (tannins)


Herbs - see the list on migraine food trigger

High GI foods


Lunch meats

Malted Barley Flour





Onions (especially raw)

Oranges and citrus fruit

Peaches (tannins)




Red plums

Red wine is a common food that triggers migraines for many of us sufferers.

Red wine


Ripe avocado

Ripe banana



Smoked Salmon

Snails or escargot

Soy sauce

Spices - see the list on migraine food trigger


Teriyaki sauce

Wheat and or gluten

Worcestershire sauce

Yeast (sourdough)


Don't let this long list of foods that trigger migraines overwhelm you... just test one at a time. Here's a link to an easy elimination diet you can do, starting right now...

How To Find Your Foods That Trigger Migraines

If you haven't done an elimination diet yet to help determine your food triggers, here's an easy one:

Click here for my Migraine Pain Management course, it's FREE to enroll >>

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