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Migraines: What are your triggers?

I am in the midst of my first migraine (the last stage, I think)--Monday I had a lot of processed food, including meat for the first time in several years, and a lot of chocolate.

Also this past weekend, I had dishes with MSG.--Now I have already read about potential triggers online, but I wondered what 'real people' have as trigger-foods and any advice. (Do you avoid the foods completely or small-amounts is ok?)

Thanks! (This might get moved to 'Special Diets.'..)

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  1. Grace
    the problem with migraines is that the triggers are SO individual and frequently hard to diagnose. My DNephew gets them when he gets over heated and tired. I've known people whose migraines were caused by MSG, artificial sweeteners, certain food dyes or chemicals and perfumes... personally I occasionally get one if I OD on dairy products - but most of mine are non-food related.

    if these are foods you are going to be eating frequently, you'll just have to watch carefully for a pattern. Or eat some meat one day, but no chocolate or processed foods, see what happens. next day (or week) try another potential trigger. for some folks, it's completely obvious - drink a diet soda and w/in a few minutes they are curled up in pain...

    good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: jujuthomas

      I agree. The triggers are so individual. I currently have no food triggers, but when I was first experiencing migraines MSG, as well as things like autolysed yeaat extract did me in, as did foods naturally high in glutamates, like Parmesan and peas.

      Part of the problem is that the reaction to the trigger is not always quick. Was is the cheese at supper, or the mushrooms at lunch?

      Now, my worst trigger is tiredness or going too long between meals. Anyway, good luck figuring it out.

      1. re: jujuthomas

        No food triggers here. But I do find I'm incredibly sensitive to smells during and for a little while after a migraine and am squarely repulsed by some of them -- my husband brought home some white pizza for himself while I was sequestered in the darkened bedroom and I could smell the garlic on it from three floors away. But other times garlic won't bother me and something else will.

        Does anybody crave any particular food afterwards? Once mine subsides, I need something with melty cheese and carbs.

        1. re: lsmutko

          I was migraine-ish Sunday and yesterday and all i wanted to eat was carbs. no real cravings after, just the during the storm carb loading.

      2. One of my mother's triggers is red wine. Not all, but most. So she avoids it unless she really wants to have some and she has the time to deal with the headache. She starts with a couple sips to get a feel (will it cause headache immediately or not) and drinks no more than a glass. When she gets a migraine she doesn't take prescripted medicine so she is more aware of triggers because she tries to avoid them more.

        I on the other hand don't have any noticable food triggers, except for the smell of truffles. And I avoid that by not letting my dining companions order anything with truffles. I get both cluster headaches and migraines, so I am lot quicker to take the medicine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: viperlush

          I should also add a lack of caffeine in the morning may also trigger a migraine. And especially in the summer dehydration may cause on as well.

        2. I would suggest not thinking about it or analyzing it too much - it just opens a well of anxiety that can hurt more than help.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Karl S

            I had migraines for years and years. And insomnia starting at age 8. Both miraculously went away when I reached perimenopause. Did all the diagnostics for migraines, considered surgery even. Funny how the obvious answer popped up with the cessation of both problems. Somehow hormone levels are rarely checked.

            Stress was a huge trigger. And caffeine.

            Agree with CanadaGirl - get thee to a nice dark, calm place when your vision starts going wonky.

            Fluorescent lighting was also a trigger, but only when they were the older, blue lights. The new ones never bothered me.

            Stay calm and approach it like a science experiment - be open to discovering your triggers without guessing what they might be. The elimination diet may help you discover triggers. In my case, it did not.

            Best of luck!

          2. Mushrooms, raw onion, walnuts.

            1. Have you done an elimination diet to pinpoint your trigger foods yet?

              2 Replies
              1. re: enbell

                Thanks to everyone to responded so far. I know an elimination diet is my next step--but all of the triggers I mentioned I usually never eat. So if I go back to my usual diet--which happens to coincide for the most part with 'pain-safe foods' then I think I should be ok.--My vision was really messed up, so that was my biggest concern.

                1. re: GraceW

                  I get the vision issues too. However, I think that is often a blessing, as I know a migraine is setting in BEFORE the pain and I can often get the needed drugs into me to ward off the migraine. My vision never used to be affected, and I never caught the migraines before they developed to the point of no return.