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Avoiding Foods That Trigger Migraines

Written by Holly Hazen

Avoiding foods that trigger migraines is a high priority for us as migraine sufferers. There are some well known food triggers, but everyone has different reactions to food. It can get a little confusing.

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 our migraines and food article;

All micro waved food.

The macrobiotic diet leans towards eating pickled condiments with each meal to aid digestion, which does not suit us migraineurs. Please read my article migraine headaches diet for more details on macrobiotics.

Foods that Trigger Migraines coffee

Chinese medicine would say to stay away from hot foods due to the Liver Fire Blazing pattern.

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

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

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. But I do favor the Chinese methodology over our eat what you feel like western diet.

Avoid All of These? I Think Not!

Overall, here is the A-Z list for us migraineurs to consider avoiding:

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 our 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 our list on migraine food trigger


Teriyaki sauce

Wheat and or gluten

Worcestershire sauce

Yeast (sourdough)


Ok, I think that’s close to it for my list. I will add more if I have missed some as I go for more foods that trigger migraines.

Ways to Avoid Foods That Trigger Migraines and Find Relief

Besides completely avoiding the above foods, using a combination of:

  • breathing and doing gentle exercise or yoga works for me.

I had an Irish roommate once that said "don't you know how to breathe already?" I had to laugh but it is important to learn to breathe using the diaphragm. Anyway, give them a try!

Have you tried doing an elimination diet yet? If not, click on the link for more information. 

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