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The Top 10 Food Triggers for Migraine Patients: Unveiling the Culprits

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Living with migraines can be incredibly challenging, especially when triggers seem to lurk around every corner. While migraine triggers can vary from person to person, there are common foods and beverages that have been reported as culprits for many migraine sufferers. In this blog post, we'll explore the top ten food triggers for migraine patients and delve into the reasons behind their potential impact.

#1 - Caffeine

"Friend or Foe?"

Cup of coffee

Caffeine can be a double-edged sword. While it has been known to relieve headaches for some individuals, excessive consumption or sudden withdrawal can trigger migraines in others. Maintaining a consistent caffeine intake is key to managing this trigger effectively.

#2 - Alcohol

"A Headache in a glass"

Glass of wine

Red wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages contain compounds like tyramine and histamines that have been associated with triggering migraines. Moderation is crucial when indulging in alcoholic drinks.

#3 - Aged Cheeses

"Sorry cheese lovers"

Aged cheeses

Certain aged cheeses, like blue cheese, cheddar, and Parmesan, contain tyramine, a naturally occurring compound that can provoke migraines in susceptible individuals. Moderation is key, and alternative cheese options can be explored.

#4 - Chocolate

"A Bittersweet Temptation"


While it is a beloved treat, it contains both caffeine and tyramine, making it a potential trigger for migraines. However, not all migraine sufferers are sensitive to chocolate and dark chocolate can actually be beneficial to some, so it's important to know your own triggers.

#5 - Citrus Fruits

"Souring the Experience"

Citrus fruits

Zesty and refreshing as they may be, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons have high levels of citric acid, which can trigger migraines in some individuals. Moderation and cautious consumption can help mitigate the risk.

#6 - Nitrates and Nitrites

"Processed Meat Pitfalls"

Hot dogs

Hot dogs, deli meats, and sausages are convenient, but they often contain nitrates and nitrites as preservatives. These compounds can dilate blood vessels and potentially trigger migraines. Opting for fresh, unprocessed meats can be a healthier alternative.

#7 - Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

"The Sneaky Flavor Enhancer"

Asian food/MSG

MSG, a flavor enhancer found in many processed foods, has been linked to migraines in some individuals. Reading food labels diligently and opting for whole, unprocessed foods can help reduce exposure.

#8 - Artificial Sweeteners

"A Sweet Trap"

Artificial sweeteners

For those watching their sugar intake, artificial sweeteners like aspartame may seem like a viable alternative. However, some migraine sufferers have reported them as triggers. Mindful consumption and exploring natural sweeteners can be a safer approach.

# 9 - Onions

"A Crying Matter for Some"

Red onions

Onions, particularly when consumed raw, contain substances that can trigger migraines in

susceptible individuals. Paying attention to your body's response to onions and adjusting your diet accordingly can help manage this trigger.

#10 - Fermented or Pickled Foods

"A Tasty Risk"

Pickled vegetables jars

Foods like sauerkraut, pickles, and fermented soy products can be delicious, but they also contain tyramine. For those who are migraine prone, these foods may pose a trigger risk. Balancing enjoyment and moderation is crucial here.


Understanding the food triggers associated with migraines is a vital step in managing this debilitating condition. While these ten food triggers are commonly reported by many migraine patients, it's important to note that triggers can vary from person to person.

Keeping a headache diary and working with healthcare professionals can help identify personal triggers and develop a personalized management.

Want to know what foods are good to eat for migraines? See the top 10 foods for that are beneficial for migraine patients here:

About the Author

Dr. Culig

Dr. Culig, DCCJP is an upper cervical spinal specialist located in Atlanta, GA. He became interested in migraines because his younger sister suffered from them since she was 13 years old. He began to seek out natural ways to treat migraines without the use of drugs or surgery. As a Doctor of Upper Cervical Chiropractic, he has spent over 300 hours in post-graduate courses regarding migraine and has successfully treated hundreds of migraine patients. He has a diplomate in the craniocervical junction (DCCJP) which is a 3-year post graduate program focused on the upper cervical spine and related neurovascular conditions such as Migraine, Trigeminal Neuralgia and Vertigo.

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