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Beware of Dietary Triggers

Dietary triggers do not necessarily contribute to headaches in all patients, and particular foods may trigger attacks in certain individuals on occasion. Be your own expert by keeping a log of the foods you have eaten before a migraine attack, and see whether the removal of these foods from your diet reduces or eliminates your headaches. Below is a list of foods that may trigger migraine headaches and should be avoided by sufferers.


  • Ripened cheeses - Cheddar, Emmentaler, Stilton, Brie and Camembert (Permissible cheeses - American, cottage, cream cheese and Velveeta)
  • Herring - pickled or dried
  • Chocolate
  • Anything fermented, pickled or marinated
  • Sour cream - no more than 1/2 cup daily
  • Nuts, peanut butter
  • Sourdough bread, breads and crackers containing cheese or chocolate
  • Broad beans, lima beans, fava beans, snow peas
  • Foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) - soy sauce, meat tenderizers, seasoned salt
  • Figs, raisins, papayas, avocados, red plums - no more than 1/2 cup daily
  • Citrus fruits - no more than 1/2 cup daily
  • Bananas - no more than 1/2 banana daily
  • Pizza
  • Excessive amounts of tea, coffee or cola beverages - no more than 2 cups daily
  • Sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, summer sausage, hot dogs
  • Chicken livers
  • Alcoholic beverages - If you do drink, limit yourself to two normal-size drinks selected from Haute Sauterne, Riesling, Seagram's VO, Cutty Sark

Above content provided by the National Headache Foundation in conjunction with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted October 2009

Posted October 2009

Contact Information

Arnold Pain Management Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
One Brookline Place, Suite 105
Brookline, MA 02445