Foods That Provoke Migraines and Headaches

There is wonderful news for migraine sufferers. Research shows that the foods you eat may actually be prompting your migraines and chronic headaches. Why is this good news?

Man with a Headache

Because by simply eliminating certain foods from your diet, you may be able to escape from the debilitating and limiting effects that migraines and other headaches cause.

The Mayo Clinic has significant research which shows that migraine headache triggers are found in some foods. Migraine and chronic headache sufferers have for years understood that poor sleep and stress, as well as hormonal changes in women, can cause the crushing headaches that they frequently experience.

But did you know that the following foods can actually be prompting your headaches?

  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol, especially red wine
  • Coffee (and sometimes the lack of caffeine in your diet)
  • Cheese and other aged foods
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Ice cream
  • Bananas

No! Not My Chocolate!

While natural dark chocolate is healthy for you in small doses, 22% of headache sufferers found that this wonderfully yummy treat was one of their headache triggers. That information was discovered in an International Headache Society study.


And My Wine?

And as it turns out, the higher quality of red wine you drink, the less chance that you will experience a migraine. The headaches which red wine and some alcohol can cause are linked to the preservatives used to process them. Also, an overabundance of any alcohol can cause increased blood flow to your brain, along with dehydration. Both can be headache triggers.


On days when you sleep later than usual, if you wake up with a headache it may be as a result of too much caffeine in your diet. Excessive caffeine has proven to be a headache trigger for many. When you come down from your “caffeine high”, your brain sends a signal that you need some coffee quickly. When you do not get it, a migraine or milder headache is often the result.


Aged cheeses are often headache triggers. Tyramine is the name of the protein in older cheeses which breaks down over time. The more a cheese ages, the more tyramine present. This migraine trigger is predominantly found in Swiss, gouda, blue cheese, cheddar and parmesan.

Wine and cheese


MSG has been known for decades to be unhealthy. Found in many Asian restaurants, monosodium glutamate is a food additive which can lead to headaches, diarrhea and cramps in about 1 in 10 people.

Ice Cream

You are probably familiar with an ice cream headache. The reaction comes from the low temperature of this tasty treat when eating too fast, and not from the ice cream itself. Ice cream and other exceptionally cold foods can also trigger migraines as well as “brain freezes”, so the next time you enjoy this frozen dairy dessert, take it slow.


Tyramine is back again as the migraine trigger in bananas. Since the peel has up to 10 times more tyramine than banana pulp, avoid ingesting those stringy parts of peel that stick to your banana.

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