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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.

              2. As was said above, it's an individual thing.

                Mine wasn't even food related although I blamed it on anything with tomato for years.....

                I had quit smoking for selfish reasons (I really enjoy living) and, a couple of years later, I realised that I hadn't had a migraine since..... and, now, I eat all the tomatos I want.

                23 years and counting... Believe me, I have empathy for anyone suffering from migraines.

                1 Reply
                1. re: zippypinhead

                  2nd hand smoke is a major trigger for me - good for you (for TWO reasons) to quit! Way to go :)

                2. Mine are usually triggered by scents, mainly perfume, air-freshener and some cleaning products. They also are triggered by flashing light such as driving with late afternoon sunlight being repeatedly blocked by trees or flash photography. I am thankful that food has not been a trigger.

                  However, I have found drinking grapefruit juice immediately when I get the first sign of a migraine decreases the severity. I have absolutely no idea why this works for me.

                  It takes some time to determine your triggers and they can change over time. Best of luck!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: meatn3

                    @meatn3, those are very similar to my triggers. sometimes cured meats, sulfides and dark booze will do it too. At the first sign I take 4-6 aspirins ( I'm a big man) and that helps a ton.

                    The food triggers for me will be anything I ate or smelled at the beginning of a migraine. Those foods I have to avoid for a few months.

                  2. MSG, paprika, yellow dye, some red dye can pretty much guarantee a nasty migraine. I also have issues with dark chocolate, red wine, and processed meats.

                    1. Very interesting thread!! Mine are, for sure:
                      - missing meals (frequently happens with lunch, and once it starts, there's nothing to do but go to bed)
                      -severe lack of sleep (like one or two hours) greatly heightens the possibility
                      -extreme exercise (running 5 or more miles, which is extreme for me, especially if combined with lack of sleep or missing meals)
                      -RED WINE (doesn't stop me from trying, but I will know pretty early on whether it's going to be a problem)
                      -flourescent lights will make a migraine come on full force if it's just lingering, deciding whether or not to make my life a living hell. I have been known to work and entertain in the dark (good friends will go ahead and ask whether I have a headache starting).
                      -too much or too little caffeine ( I just have to listen to my body to tell how much i should have on any given day)
                      -PERFUMES. Definitely! This one gets worse and worse as I get older. I really feel like they should outlaw strong perfumes and scents because it can make me ill in minutes. I wish it weren't this way, because I'd really like to wear perfume. But I simply cannot.

                      There may be others I don't know about. I've never done an official elimination diet. But the ones I listed are for sure triggers for me.

                      Luckily, they make fairly good drugs now that will allow me to SOMETIMES nip these evil things in the bud. If I take it early enough, and I can get to a dark room with a hot washcloth to put over my eyes, I can sometimes get over it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: IndyGirl

                        Wow, you pretty much nailed my triggers here! Including the aspertame you mentioned below. The only difference is that caffeine has no affect on me at all...I don't drink a lot of caffeine most of the time, no coffee and usually only 1-2 sodas a week, so I'm not addicted. But, it also doesn't help when I do get a migraine (I've heard that for some people, it does help since it's supposed to open up the blood vessels to allow blood to flow faster to the brain, or something.)

                        1. re: IndyGirl

                          We may be migraine twins!

                          I also remember getting a vicious migraine after eating vanilla ice cream on a sugar cone after school. I was 15 and remember it as if it were yesterday!

                        2. I forgot to mention aspartame. At least, I think it is a trigger for me. In grad school I lived on Diet Coke, and I gave it up when I got my first job. Now, I can't even taste the stuff without feeling a horrible malaise, and the few times I've had one since quitting cold-turkey I've gotten really bad migraines.

                          1. My trigger is not food related at all. It is sudden bright light or flashing lights. Bright sunshine on fresh snow is an especially bad one.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sandylc

                              Yeah, the bright sun on snow does it for me, too. Also too much harsh fluorescent light, strobe lights, flashes from a camera. Strong perfumes, lack of sleep, check and check.

                              For me, the aura that hits before the migraine starts is always the worst. Starts with flashing, then wiggling black dots that grow bigger until I'm down to pinpoint vision and terror. At that point I pray for the pain to hit because it's relief. Agony, yes, but at least I can see.

                              If I am lucky, the aura is short, I can get to a cool, dark room, take my meds with a few sips of Pepsi, and close my eyes. If I am driving, it's all I can do to get off the road.

                              I am incredibly careful about avoiding my food and spice triggers and that has eliminated the majority of my migraines.

                              1. re: fatladysings

                                Just the lights for me. And I am lucky that my aura doesn't obscure my vision; it just makes things like focusing on reading difficult. If I am lucky I catch the aura early and take an Advil and never get the pain at all - this makes me a very fortunate migraine sufferer. For me the pain is agonizing and to be avoided at all costs.

                            2. Red wine, incoming storms and clenching my jaw for too long when I am stressed. If you have an HMO they might have a migraine class that is helpful about triggers and treatment.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                Jaw clenching is a big one too. i have a bite guard that helps -- I wear it when I sleep, but also sometimes when I'm working from home. When I have a migraine it's the first thing I do (well after popping a pill), unless I'm already queasy. Can't wear the bite guard when I'm queasy.

                              2. Red wine, salami and other processed meats (nitrates/nitrites are a big one for me), fake sweeteners (aspartame, etc. - another big one), MSG, most preservatives/food dyes, very dark chocolate...Chemicals and chemical smells can make it worse if it's on its way as well - and by that I mean cleaning supplies mostly, though even really strong "natural" cleaners can do it too. I was also advised to stay away from lentils and other legumes as they contain...something...I've found that small french lentils (du puy) don't affect me, but lentil soup or something from a restaurant can, which I don't know if that's to do with the lentils, or the other crap they put in the dish. Stress, and lack of sleep bring them on, too.

                                Most of the above will only bring it on or make it worse if it's already on its way, but the other personal triggers for me that are basically insta-migraine are sangria, and a Spanish omelette (egg and potato) - that's because one of my first and worst migraines occurred in Spain after I had that for lunch. I hadn't slept in 2 days, yada yada but my point is: whatever it is you ate may become completely inedible to you, so I'd be careful before eating those foods again. Not sure whether that's psychosomatic, but for me, I can't go near Sangria or I feel a migraine attack imminent.

                                1. Looking at the posts here, I see people who have likely worked very hard to determine how to avoid pain and misery, yet I suspect that the majority of medical folks will poo-poo the proven experiences of the sufferer here. Pity.

                                  1. Raw garlic is my biggie. For some reason cooked garlic is fine.

                                    As for the advice part:

                                    This may just be me, but I've found that it isn't a cut and dry thing (like allergies, where you're either allergic to something or you aren't). A combination of factors combine to determine if I'll get a migraine. For me it's stress, sleep deprivation, low caffeine, food triggers, alcohol, and one other that I'm too shy to say. In other words, if I'm well-rested and coffee-ed, without any other issues, I can have a bottle of red wine and a head of garlic and be fine. If I'm exhausted and stressed, a tiny amount of raw garlic will do it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: LabLady

                                      +1 - Stress and lack of sleep makes the above triggers for me (with the exception of the insta-migraine I mentioned); otherwise, I can have two or even three of those in any sort of combo and be fine...I don't know if I'm bold enough to try more than 3 at once under any circumstances...=)

                                    2. Mine are hormonally induced—can't do much to avoid THAT trigger.
                                      I don't get auras but do get visual migraines—flashing stars—at completely separate times from the pain; those are stressed-induced.
                                      Lots of people around here, Calgary, Canada, are sure that our Chinooks bring on their migraines so that's another possible trigger.
                                      Wish you well!

                                      1. I have had so many migraine triggers; weather, smoke, perfume, stress, alcohol, sleep patterns, etc. that you could stuff a box with them. All of them are listed in everyone else's posts. I think the only one I don't have is a food product or none I remember.

                                        However, in the past years it became mostly hormonal. When my doctor suggested going off the "pill", which I always used to help regulate the migraines (amongst the other usual reasons), along with other meds, I was terrified they would increase.

                                        Well call me gobsmacked when they lessened. I'm also of an age where my neurologist says they should be decreasing (finally) so maybe it was coincidence? Not sure but I finally am able to go weeks without a headache for the first time in my life. Which is great because we're now weaning me off another medication which I took on a daily basis for it.

                                        The only other trigger which remains that I know for sure that I can control somewhat is the position of my body. I have found that when I'm working at my desk at the office doing a certain task for too long it puts my head/neck into a twisted position that will then give me bad neck/shoulder pain and that in turn sets of the migraine. When I can manage to avoid that, I'm golden. At the moment, the last one I had was so long ago I don't even remember it.

                                        But as others have said, finding your own triggers can be a long and frustrating process. Having one or two every now and then is manageable but If they increase,to where it's impacting your life more frequently, working with a neurologist would be your best bet.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: sivyaleah

                                          SMOKE! That's another one! Cigarette smoke specifically.

                                          1. re: sivyaleah

                                            Absolutely to the body position trigger!

                                            1. re: sivyaleah

                                              Aging has been a blessing in this area.

                                              When I was in my 20's and 30's every cab driver in town knew me. Once a migraine started (3-4/month) I had 20 minutes before I resembled a very, very drunk 3 year old. Enough of the drivers knew my car, story and route that they would stop if they saw me parked by the side of the road and take me home. This was before cell phones and often I couldn't think coherently to make a call for help from a payphone. Those guys were fantastic!

                                              Now in my 50's I have migraines 3-4 times per year. Usually they are weather related. But there is still a "stacking" effect at play that I must stay aware of.

                                              Other than aging, some things that helped the overall situation were:
                                              *acupuncture
                                              *changing jobs ( had worked in banking which equaled lots of people wearing scent and no way to leave your cubicle and avoid it)
                                              *Moving to an area where I could have more months with windows open and less recycled air.

                                              Perhaps it is cumulative, perhaps just happenstance, but either way I am so grateful to have less pain and lost days in my life. The downside is since they happen less often I have lost my stamina with the pain and wimp out much faster!

                                            2. All non food related with the exception of going w/out coffee for more than 2-3 days in a row.

                                              1. I haven't eaten them in years, but Red Twizzlers used to be a very reliable trigger. The doc said red dye #5 was an oft noted migraine trigger.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  Yep, and on a similar note, Swedish fish which I love....are now getting donated to the work candy dish:(

                                                  Others are microwave popcorn, another favorite....and crystal light, either for the fake sugar or the dyes....now I need some new bedtime snacks....

                                                2. Migraine triggers are stackable, so how strictly I avoid a trigger depends on (1) the type of trigger, (2) whether it's actually avoidable and (3) how many other triggers I've been exposed to recently.

                                                  With something like MSG, exposure is a sure migraine for me, so I avoid it at all costs. My goal is to consume NOTHING containing it. With alcohol, it depends on how close I am to my trigger threshold. Once in a while I indulge, but usually I do not. I live with chronic migraines, so most times it's not a good idea for me to expose myself.

                                                  I'd like to direct you to a few articles you might find helpful:

                                                  http://somebodyhealme.dianalee.net/20...
                                                  http://somebodyhealme.dianalee.net/20...
                                                  https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-tr...

                                                  I hope this helps. Good luck!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: whatwouldruthdo

                                                    You are so right that the triggers are stackable. I was just telling my SO about what you wrote tonight because it helps explain why my migraines aren't regular every time I have red wine, for instance. It's something I've always known but never quite articulated in this way. For instance, sometimes I can just feel that red wine is a bad idea because I missed lunch or ate later than usual, or that I will need to eat very soon because I didn't sleep and also ran, or whatever. Sitting in one position for a long time can be OK if I'm otherwise well, but if I didn't sleep or ran five miles a few hours before, and especially if it's in a flourescent-lit room, forget about it. (I just had a horrible nauseating migraine a couple of months ago when trapped in a room watching presentations for hours, under just those conditions.... awful!)

                                                    If the other factors are missing these things may very well be just fine, though, which is why they seem so random to others. I will definitely check out those links. Thank you for your post!

                                                    1. re: IndyGirl

                                                      You're so welcome. Glad the info helped!

                                                  2. I've not had one for almost 10 years (knocking on wood, crossing fingers, and doing anything else to not jinx that), but when I was younger I used to get them and nitrates seemed to be the main trigger. As a child, any time I'd eat a hot dog I'd be out of commission for a full day. (And somehow, it took me several years to pay enough attention to say "no" next time I was offered one...)

                                                    The headaches started to greatly decrease in frequency around the time I was 12, coming only once or twice a year, and eventually seem to have gone away entirely. There might have been some sort of environmental cause or exacerbation; today I can eat nitrates all I want with no ill effects (except getting fat :-)).

                                                    The last headache I had cropped up quite unexpectedly one afternoon, after five years of peace, but I realized right away -- with horror -- what was about to happen to the rest of my day. Best of luck to you in figuring out and avoiding your trigger.

                                                    1. Two questions:
                                                      1) some of you have mentioned craving carbs before or after the headache. Does anyone crave soda? I specifically crave coke before the migraine hits--it's almost a sign for me that one is coming. I guess thirst and needing carbs (sugar) all come at once. /if combined with immediate meds, a hot washcloth on my eyes, and a dark room, a few gulps of coke can sometimes almost stave off the full-on sickness. Reading back, I see that someone mentioned taking a few sips of pepsi with their meds--it really does help mine, at least sometimes (if it's not too far gone).

                                                      2) does anyone find that IKEA is the perfect storm of migraine creation? For me it's the flourescent light and something about being overstimulated by all the crap. Also, it's fatiguing, and probably I don't eat enough before going or something. A very bad one crept up on me while I was there for the first time, and by the end of the hour drive home I was just ill, all I could do was go to bed (thank god I wasn't driving).

                                                      I really have to say that I'm grateful that others have had similar experiences. Makes me know I am not crazy.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: IndyGirl

                                                        Not soda, but I get extremely thirsty during a migraine - this does not mix well with my nausea though. The day after I feel totally depleted and crave lots of fruit and protein (usually in the form of Fage).

                                                        1. re: IndyGirl

                                                          I don't have problems at Ikea. But I have huge problems at Kohl's. I'm not aware of any odors so I suspect that their lighting flickers faster than the eye is aware of. I only shop there every 5 years or so (motivated by very good coupon) and recently found that it is still an issue for me.

                                                          I have known many people who swear by caffeine combined with their script taken at the first sign helps.

                                                          1. re: IndyGirl

                                                            The IKEA thing is interesting, I've had one following a visit, but never considered they could be related. It was only one time, so maybe it wasn't. But yes, after the pain is tamped down by the meds, a Coke or Pepsi really hits the spot.

                                                            1. re: IndyGirl

                                                              Yes, carbs and soda. It took me a long time to realise that immediately pre-migraine was not the right time to be sticking to a diet.

                                                            2. I had two severe migraines in the last couple months. I realized, after this last one, that I had eaten pizza from my fav place. My guess was the pepperoni and salami had nitrates (If I buy those things at the market to take home, it's always nitrate free).

                                                              That's my best guess...

                                                              1. I never considered my migraines could be food related. The last 2-3 were from OVER sleeping. I usually get 6-7 hours a night and if I sleep in on a day off and get over say 9 hours sleep I am incapicitated for 12 hours.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                  Yup, oversleeping definitely does it for me. Again, stackable triggers - I usually only sleep long when I've been sleeping badly before and have been stressed, so my shoulders and neck are already tense from desk work and my jaw is clenched, and chances are I will have gorged on crappy takeout the night before.

                                                                2. My triggers only bother me in summer: mid-March through mid-October and here they are:
                                                                  avocados, red wine, vinegar, raw onions, going too long without food. Any amount of these foods will set trigger a doozy. Once we hit mid-October, I can eat anything. :-)

                                                                  I take Topirimate every day to stave off the migraines and it has helped immensely.

                                                                  1. Artificial sweeteners seem to be a trigger for me. I've cut them out and it has made a big difference.

                                                                    1. Food wise, my triggers are MSG, aspartame, and caffeine (although I can drink one Coke or Pepsi, just no coffee or Red Bull). I also try to avoid nitrites and red wine.

                                                                      I'm still trying to figure out others. For example, hummus or falafel has given me headache in the past, but I'm not sure what ingredient is triggering it. I can eat chick peas all day with no problem.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: lawgirl3278

                                                                        Have you checked if it is a sesame allergy? Reactions to sesame are actually not unusual.

                                                                      2. Bad dates trigger my migraines. Luckily, I'm ok with cooking dates and medjool dates. ;-)

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: prima

                                                                          lol...

                                                                          1. re: prima

                                                                            Reminds me of that great scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark "Bad Dates."
                                                                            My triggers are flashing lights - some Xerox machines just kill me, and when bike riders put extra high-intensity flashy lights on their bikes - Yikes! I'm trying to cover one eye and drive past them, not good. Some construction crews are guilty of using these very high intensity flashing lights, too.

                                                                            I haven't found any food triggers, thank god - none of the usual culprits like chocolate or bleu cheese. Don't drink, so red wine can't be causing them. I will occasionally drive myself to migraine territory if I skip a meal, but why would I do such a silly thing?

                                                                            Edited to add: how could I forget, cigarette smoke. One whiff of American cigarettes, I'm a goner. Oddly enough, the cigarettes in Denmark don't bother me at all. I come back here, disaster.

                                                                            1. re: khh1138

                                                                              ha- I'd forgotten about that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'll think of that scene every time I have a bad date, from now on!

                                                                              I don't get migraines from cigarette smoke, but I find Mexican Marlboros even stinkier than American ones!

                                                                              1. re: khh1138

                                                                                Yes, flashing-lights definitely are another trigger for me. I cringe and shield my eyes and then other people freak out that I am going to have a seizure.. when it's a migraine (not some other condition).

                                                                            2. Skipping meals after having too much caffiene.

                                                                              1. I have only ever had one migraine as a result of an acupuncture treatment gone wrong, but my sister's triggers are peanuts, Coke, alcohol, chocolate, MSG, coffee.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                                                  That reminded me that I once had a migraine triggered by a massage. Only once, and I am a frequent partaker of a therapeutic massage.

                                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                                    My migraines took a turn for the worse after a very bad chiropractic adjustment. It began immediately and was the worse I had ever experienced. I basically was in fetal position, a whimpering ball of pain. I even lost understanding and use of language.

                                                                                    Fortunately my SO at the time called an acupuncturist friend and I was able to open my eyes, respond and understand simple sentences and walk slowly a few hours after treatment.

                                                                                    I'm so glad I have never had a migraine that severe since.

                                                                                  2. If it helps at all.........................for the past 20+ years I've gotten what I believe are a type of migraine which are technically 'vascular cluster' headaches. I've tried and tried to pin down the triggers, but I think there's also an element of allergy and sinus problems involved so it's difficult. They present with pressure and pain behind my eyes and in my temples..... for the most part.

                                                                                    A few of the specific triggers I CAN identify are:
                                                                                    - Going too long without eating;
                                                                                    - Cigar smoke;
                                                                                    - "Withdrawal" from caffeine (when I have caffeinated coffee several mornings in a row and then stop).
                                                                                    - Tension;
                                                                                    - Overindulgence in alcohol.

                                                                                    I do take a prescribed butalbital compound med for these things and it works really well if I get on it quickly enough. If not, it's not fun.

                                                                                    1. Many, many foods are migraine triggers for me (but then I have chronic, serious migraines and take topamax, muscle relaxants, Maxalt, and botox injections for them.) Here are some of the foods and seasonings I've learned that I must avoid: MSG which is in many, many products including such things as prepared pizzas that you buy at places like Pizza Hut, worshteshire sauce, soy sauce and ANY soy product including soy milk and even things prepared with soy, such as inexpensive canned tuna fish packed in soy; ANY prepared seasonings or marinades in bottles or packages including most prepared sauces such as barbecue sauces, and salad dressings (I make my own); balsamic vinegrette and red wine vinegrette and the seasoning called liquid smoke; anything that has been smoked or aged such as fish, meat or cheese; many aged and smoked cheeses including blue cheese and brie;" the natural yellow coloring called annatto which is used in many products including ice creams, cheeses, crackers, snacks, and cereals, and in many Mexican products; onions (but I can eat shallots), asparagus, beets (which are a horrible migraine trigger and which also is often used as a coloring in yoghurts and ice cream,) red and black beans because they're high in tyramines (white are fine;) most ice creams except high-quality ones (like Haagen Daz or Turkey Hill Additive-Free) which are absolutely pure and contain only milk, cream, sugar and pure, high-quality chocolate or vanilla with NO other additives; inulin which is a filling used in yoghurts and other products; bananas; meats and poultry which have nitrites in them, i.e. ham, bacon, even prepared turkey -- although many grocery stores are starting to offer nitrite-free meat products; no canned soups with nitrites, added yeast, soy or wheat dextrin, or onion; many dried fruits or nuts which have MSG-type preservatives on them and it's best just to eat raw nuts; BLUE DYE of ANY sort and red dye to a lesser extent -- used in foods or medications -- it's best to try to avoid dyes whenever possible; pork which is high in tyramines (although I can east small amounts of nitrite-free bacon;) red wine, champagne, aged liquors and whiskyes, and (my greatest sorrow) beer, but I can drink white wine (thank God.) In summary, prepare your own food using only fresh ingredients and well-tolerated seasonings. It , however, does make eating at restaurants extremely difficult.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: 44penney

                                                                                        Thanks Penney. A lot of that really explained to some degree some of my own concerns. Especially because my first full-blown migraine came after eating at my favorite restaurant (I only get there about once a year)... which is notorious for dishes with MSG. :(
                                                                                        Thanks for the info!

                                                                                        1. re: 44penney

                                                                                          I have just had the worse migraine episode of my life even my meds did not help. The only thing that I can attribute it to is asparagus. You mentioned asparagus in your post. What is in asparagus? I have been so careful and I was blindsided by this one.

                                                                                        2. Lentils. I found MSG free, all natural pre-packaged lentils in a store and thought, great! I bet I can eat them. Well, after 2 days of eating them with my reduced to almost nothing meals, I kept getting a really horrific migraine (pack the head in ice type of migraine and moan in complete darkness). I did a search this morning, came across CHOW and wham! There was the list and lentils were right there in front of me. Almost everything and I do or eat triggers a migraine for me. I've had them for 33 years now and have taken all the meds that I can take, Maxalt (stopped working) Sumatriptan (barely works now) Sumavale injections (knocks you on your rear), therapeutic massage, which I finally stopped because it did nothing, injections in my neck from an Orthopedic doctor, nerve blocks, botox for 3 years) (I liked my forehead afterwards) and that stopped working. I just had a neural implant to try and control the pain. A battery implanted in my lower back with wires and electrodes running up my spine, across my neck, up through my head and across my forehead. Works pretty well except they couldn't get the wires and electrodes close enough to my right eye due to possible damage so therefore, when I do get the migraines, my right eye feels like it is popping out of the socket. Actually, the procedure works well and the only issue I have is my eye and right forehead. The side and back of my head is migraine free for now. I am really disappointed that I can't eat lentils. I'm a vegan and trying to find anything to eat is a challenge. I forge on and refuse to give up! Thanks for listening/reading. Hope that my experiences helps someone else!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: d2ambrose

                                                                                            I try to be dominantly plant based, but can't during bouts of headaches. Some days all I can get down is an egg sandwich or a burger. Like a previous poster said before a headache is a bad time to stick to a diet. I usually eat lentils all the time and then last night I got a massive headache, I didn't get to do dishes and this morning I couldn't go near the pot, the smell of just boiled lentils was so off putting. Who even thinks of lentils as smelling? I didn't until this morning.

                                                                                          2. I had one migraine in my life. It was about thirty years ago and it was terrifying. I got it when I drank a sweet white German wine that was served to me at a luncheon. The pain was so bad that I have only just started to drink wine again. Not whites. Not German wines.

                                                                                            1. If there's any consolation in aging, it may be that my migraines lessened (in frequency and severity) significantly (happened with 3 close relatives, too).

                                                                                              I never, in the 20 years I had them, found definitive triggers, but had some hunches: hormones, quick change from light to shadow (like driving through my beloved Smokey Mountains), and some fragrances.

                                                                                              Hope all those still beset by these neurological monsters have the same positive results as time (and decades) goes by!

                                                                                              1. Turning on the TV and watching the first couple of seconds of 'DDD' before my brain screams at me to grab the clicker then squeeze my eyes shut.
                                                                                                Doesn't always happen fast enough. Then it's 'migraine city'.

                                                                                                1. I am still suffering through what I hope is the last stage of a 3 week (so far) headache. It is like no other headache, migraine or otherwise I've ever experienced. Localized, affecting my left eye and sinuses. Even my skin aches, as do my sinuses... feels like sunburn (inside my head!).

                                                                                                  After a trip to the ER last week. an extensive MRI, x-rays, enough blood for a whole pint donation, my doctor tells me it is probably a viral infection and I will hopefully heal completely. Most expensive headache ever.

                                                                                                  Meanwhile I've had to think about what makes it worse and dammit - crunchy food that takes effort to chew makes the headache worse, as does alcohol. Until this resolves no more nuts or celery. Or booze.

                                                                                                  I have a magic bullet that up till now I've been using just for protein shakes. Looks like I've joined the smoothie cult.