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Migraine Headache Diet: Foods & Strategies To Help Reduce Attacks

Written and verified by Holly Hazen


Does your diet make a difference? Yes! Can a strict migraine headache diet be used to effectively reduce or eliminate your migraines? Yes! Especially if you know what foods trigger your attacks.



Learning to avoid our triggers is an easy way to stop future migraines. However, it can be more complicated than that for some of us when different combinations of foods come into play. And all the other numerous triggers we may have, adding up in our trigger tolerance.

But we can control our food intake. And we can use it as medicine... strategically! 

This is such a big area I had to divide it into 6 parts:

  1. How To Recognize Your Migraine Headache Triggers

  2. Migraines And Food: How To Use Food To Prevent Attacks

  3. Specialized diets: elimination, macrobiotic and ketogenic.
    3.1 How To Do A Simple Migraine Elimination Diet
    3.2 Migraine Headaches and Macrobiotic Food
    3.3 Migraines and Diet: Is Ketogenic Just Another Fad?

  4. Foods That Fight Pain Fight Migraines Too

  5. Migraine Headaches Nutrition: How To Improve Your Diet

  6. Food Sources of Beneficial Vitamins for Migraine Reduction

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Food Sources of Beneficial Vitamins for Migraine Reduction @migrainesavvy #migrainerelief #stopmigraines #migraines

What Is A Migraine Headache Diet Exactly?

When I hear the word 'diet' – I panic.  I am already so restricted in what I am 'allowed' to eat it's ridiculous... and often, I find it embarrassing. Do you too?

A migraine diet is not like dieting to lose weight, it is more about avoiding what triggers you into a full blown attack and ruins your life for days!

Migraine food triggers are what NOT to eat. It is so important to avoid our food triggers so we can avoid having any or many future attacks.

For more details on what NOT to eat please read our article on the most common foods that trigger migraines.

I’ve done more radical dieting for my migraines then I ever had to do to lose weight. Food has become my number one focus besides my health. Breakfast, lunch and dinner and all snacks are pre-planned so I never risk causing another migraine. My life revolves around my so called migraine headache diet.

I’ve already told you about doing a very long and tedious frustrating downright aggravating elimination diet when doctors were checking if migraine allergy reactions were the cause of my chronic attacks. They do keep me choosing to eat healthy all the time and I must say I don’t even flinch when chocolate is the in room! As a matter of fact I probably cringe!

I find rice, raw vegetables and fresh foods migraine safe. @migrainesavvy #migrainerelief #stopmigraines #migraines

So overall, there was the 4 year elimination diet, the 10 years of trying to be macrobiotic, the eating fruit and nuts every 1.5 hours for surprise hypoglycemia attacks, high protein low fat no sugar, no wheat no dairy no taste!!!

Discovering protein shakes every morning to keep up the protein synthesis in the body and stave off the hypoglycemia saved me.

6 different Anti-Candida diet attempts (failed) and other various allergy elimination diets and treatments along the way.

As there were no noticeable changes at all with the frequency or severity of my migraines, I tend to keep experimenting as the years go by.

I have been eating pureed meals for breakfast for better long-term recovery, with meaty soups and stews to help build more muscle up in this challenged body. I still eat a little bit macrobiotic and a little bit comfort food from home. Everything, except my triggers, in moderation.

We really do have a lot of options around what to eat now a days that is gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. 

I am now experimenting with a Ketogenic Diet which is neuro-protective. Just the right thing for a migraine headache diet and to choose vibrant good health! More on that later.

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MIGRAINE PAIN MANAGEMENT COURSE

There's an 8 week food experiment in my Migraine Pain Management Course. The first module is free... continue reading



Food Can Be Your Medicine

After many, many years of studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and Nutrition, and all the migraine challenges with food, I have grown to truly believe that the food we eat can be our medicine.

There are some healthy and simple foods that Pierre Jean Cousin recommends as beneficial - not just safe - but good foods for us migraineurs in his book Food is Medicine. The details are in our migraines and food article.

Sometimes diet alone will not be enough, like in my case. So perhaps you will need to consider other migraine relief alternatives. You might like to consider supplementation with specific vitamins, minerals or amino acids that may be needed to bring your metabolism back into balance to reduce any possibilities for the recurrence of another migraine.

Magnesium deficiency is quite common in individuals that suffer with migraines. A new one recently discovered is high copper levels which is something I have been working on for 4 years now. It's a very difficult one to work with.

Your Doctor, a qualified Nutritionist or Naturopathic physician will be the best person to advise you on supplements. They will look at you holistically in case there are other organs in play and provide the best alternatives for you.

Choosing the right migraine headache diet can support your body's overall wellbeing. The food we eat can be our medicine @migrainesavvy #migrainerelief #stopmigraines #migrainesChoosing the right migraine headache diet can support your body's overall wellbeing. The food we eat can be our medicine @migrainesavvy

Food Sources of Beneficial Vitamins for Migraine Reduction

Although you would need to eat A LOT of these foods to get the benefits of a few supplements, I still want to share the top 3 beneficial sources with you for magnesium, vitamin B2, and co-enzyme Q10. And a couple of other really beneficial ones to consider adding to your daily migraine headache diet regime.

Food Sources of Magnesium:

Increase your magnesium intake by:

  • Adding nuts and seeds to salads, yoghurts, porridge and stir fry's.
  • Eating oily fish 1 or 2 times a week.
  • Making cashew milk by adding a handful of the nuts to 300ml of water.
  • Throwing a handful of spinach or oats in smoothies.
  • Swapping rice for quinoa.
  • Taking a supplement. [1]


Food Sources of Vitamin B2:

You can get recommended amounts of riboflavin by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Eggs.
  • Low-fat milk.
  • Organ meats (kidneys and liver), lean meats.
  • Green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, and spinach).
  • Fortified cereals, bread, and grain products. [2]


Food Sources of CoQ10:

Increase your enzyme CoQ10 intake by:

  • Organ meats: heart, liver and kidney.
  • Some muscle meats: pork, beef and chicken.
  • Fatty fish: trout, herring, mackerel and sardine.
  • Vegetables: spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.
  • Fruit: oranges and strawberries.
  • Legumes: soybeans, lentils and peanuts.
  • Nuts and seeds: sesame seeds and pistachios. [3]


Food Sources of Alpha-lipoic acid:

Alpha-lipoic acid is also available as a supplement and can be found in many health stores and online. Supplements can contain up to 1,000 times more alpha-lipoic acid than foods. [4]

Good sources of alpha-lipoic acid are:

  • Red meats
  • Organ meats like liver, heart, kidney, etc.
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Green peas
  • Rice bran [4]


Food Sources of Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that your body needs for so many essential functions. If you suffer from fatigue after a migraine, ask your doctor about supplementing with B12.

It can be found in large amounts in animal products, fortified foods, and dietary supplements. Some of the richest sources are liver, beef, sardines, clams, and dairy products.

To increase the amount of vitamin B12 in your diet, eat more of foods that contain it, like:

  • Beef, liver, and chicken.
  • Organ meats - liver and kidney.
  • Fish and shellfish such as sardines, trout, salmon, tuna fish, and clams.
  • Fortified breakfast cereal.
  • Fortified nutritional yeast.
  • Fortified nondairy milk.
  • Milk and dairy products.
  • Eggs. [5]

Whether you want to increase your vitamin stores or prevent deficiency, eating these foods may considerably improve your overall health and well being.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now

I believe the best migraine headache diet starts with doing an elimination diet. I did one and it took years for me to figure out on my own. So have a look at this one, and choose easy - How Can I Do A Simple Migraine Elimination Diet?

Enroll for my course, it's free. Here's the link - Migraine Pain Management Course.

And then subscribe to my free periodic or monthly e-zine called Surviving Chronic Migraine for more goodies on food, recipes, and diets suitable for migraine sufferers. AND... download 5 tools you can use every day... right now!


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Until next time, here's to being be pain free, 




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Migraine Headache Diet References:
1. Hobson R. and Thompson A. (2017) Six easy ways women can boost levels of magnesium and slash their risk of a heart attack, etc. Available [online] at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5077913/Six-easy-ways-boost-magnesium-levels.html  
2. National Institutes of Health (13 Jan 2021) Riboflavin Fact Sheet for Consumers. Available [online] at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Riboflavin-Consumer/
3. Semeco, A (2017) 9 Benefits of Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Available [online] at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coenzyme-q10
4. Lipoic acid – biological activity and therapeutic potential (2011) at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1734114011706004 cited in Healthline (2019) Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Weight Loss, Other Benefits and Side Effects. Available [online] at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/alpha-lipoic-acid Accessed 16 Jan. 2021
5. WebMD (2021) What Is Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia? Available [online] at: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/vitamin-b12-deficiency-anemia#1  Accessed 16 Jan. 2021