8 Tips to Avoid Headaches That Are Caused by Your Diet

The National Headache Foundation offers 8  tips for eating healthy and headache-free

1  Eat three balanced meals a day.

You should also eat a healthy snack at night. If you’re very hungry, don’t make sugar the primary source of your meal; it’ll just make things worse. And with each meal, be sure to include a lean protein, such as chicken or fish.

2. Pay attention to your medications.

Make sure you’re following any dietary restrictions that come with your prescriptions to avoid dangerous interactions. People who take an MAOI inhibitor, such as Nardil, are supposed to avoid tyramine, for example, which is found in aged cheeses, smoked meats and fish, and some beers.

3. Try to pinpoint which food might be causing your headache.

This can be tricky as reactions can take up to three days. Keep a diary of everything you ate and drank, and when you consumed it. Try to include notes about your headaches as they occur, when they started and stopped, and any other symptoms. Then start looking for links.

4. Remember some foods may trigger headaches only when you’re premenstrual.

These foods will not cause problems the rest of the month, so keep that in mind while you’re scoping out suspects.

5. Avoid caffeine.

Too much or none at all can cause headaches, depending on your habits. Also, caffeine interferes with some headache medications, making them less effective. It’s also a stimulant, which can trigger a headache in higher amounts. Caffeine withdrawal for people who are used to getting their cup of joe in every day can also lead to a nasty headache. So watch your total intake and be consistent with your caffeine consumption.

6. Watch your food temperature.

Ever had an ice cream headache? Food that’s too cold or too hot can trigger an excruciating pain response. So eat slowly or avoid the extremes altogether.

7. Avoid alcohol.

No, we aren’t talking about hangovers. For some people, alcohol in any amount leads to headaches. For others, ingredients in certain beverages ““ especially red wine ““ can trigger pain. Alcohol also interacts badly with some medications, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether it’s safe to have a drink if you take medication daily.

8. Pay attention to what you eat.

Specific foods or additives known to trigger reactions: Raw onions, sulfites, nitrates and nitrites, MSG, aged cheeses, chocolate, red wine, smoked or cured meats, aspartame, citrus fruits and juices are all culprits. Some people also report their headaches stop when they stop eating gluten, a protein found in wheat.