Everyday Foods You Had No Idea Are Probably Making Your Migraine Worse

Diet is extremely important if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But, did you know the food you eat can also severely affect your migraines? If you want to cut down on headache pain or reduce migraine frequency, you may want to cut these foods out, especially one raw ingredient on page 10.

1. Sweet potatoes

Baked sweet potatoes with cheese

Sweet potatoes are good but not for migraines. | iStock

This delicious vegetable is, unfortunately, chock full of tyramine, which is formed when high-protein foods break down or age. According to the National Headache Foundation, tyramine triggers migraines.

Next: This food will not “cure” your migraine.

2. Cured meats

salumi plate

Your favorite deli meats should be skipped if you often experience migraines. | ciobanu ana maria/Getty Images

Say goodbye to delicious salami sandwiches, says the NHF. In fact, say goodbye to all salumi — no more bologna, prosciutto, or capicola. Why? These meats contain a lot of tyramine, too.

Next: Are you addicted to this everyday stimulant?

3. Caffeine

Cup of coffee

Caffeine from coffee, tea, or chocolate should be avoided. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Coffee and tea make the world go round. Nevertheless, caffeine is one thing you should avoid. You should consume less than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day (the equivalent of two 6-ounce cups of tea or coffee).

Next: This comfort food will turn your brain sour.

4. Sourdough bread

Sourdough Bread

Choose another type of bread instead. | janetleerhodes/Getty Images

Not all bread is bad for migraines, just sourdough, which should be limited as much as possible. Other breads like wheat, white, and rye seem to be just fine. Why? It has to do with the amount of yeast found in sourdough and other fresh-baked yeast goods.

Next: Migraines can drive you “nuts.”

5. Nuts

Peanut butter jar and heap of nuts

Nuts and nut butter could be part of the problem. | Julia_Sudnitskaya/Getty Images

Nuts should be avoided at all costs, especially walnuts and pecans, which contain tyramine. According to Migraine.com, “The tyramine content of [other nuts] is debated, but traditional migraine diets recommend avoiding them.” Sadly, this means no more PB&J sandwiches.

Next: You’ll feel sorry for your sweet tooth.

6. Chocolate and cocoa

blocks of chocolate

Unfortunately, chocolate may be linked to migraines. | Source: iStock

Not only does cocoa contain caffeine, which migraine-sufferers should monitor closely, but cocoa also contains histamine. Dietary histamine “has been suspected to play a role in migraines for many people since the 1950s,” according to Migraine.com. Unfortunately, it’s best to avoid all chocolate and cocoa if you experience severe migraines.

Next: Classic ballpark fare isn’t good for migraines.

7. Sausages

You may want to skip these at the next picnic. | iStock.com

The old workaround of sausages. They’re not quite salumis, but they still contain an excess of nitrates. Nitrates can be very rough on your body and can trigger more headaches or migraines if you have too much.

Next: This food item should stand for “Migraine Starts Growing.”

8. Monosodium glutamate (aka MSG)

Pouring Soy Sauce into bowl

Soy sauce may contain MSG. | iStock/Getty Images

Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, is a combination of sodium and glutamate. For years, MSG was thought to be terrible for you, but that has been debunked. To avoid migraines, refrain from consuming fermented soy products like Miso, Teriyaki, Soy sauce and so on. You might as well avoid any soy products or beans like fava, snow, or broad.

Next: You’ll have to get Vitamin C other ways.

9. Citrus

Lemons on grey wooden

Citrus should be avoided too. | 5second/iStock/Getty Images

Unfortunately, these fruits are big triggers for migraines. You want to limit your consumption as much as possible. The NHF says that you should consume no more than a half cup per day to avoid any problems with them.

Next: This ingredient only triggers migraines when consumed raw.

10. Onions

Chopped onions in a frying pan

Onions | iStock.com/dbvirago

The worst job in the kitchen is chopping onions. They release sulfur gas and that combines with the water in your eyes. That makes Sulfuric Acid and causes you to cry. Whether that could also trigger a migraine in some cases is unknown, but the NHF says to avoid it.

Onion fans do not lament! Cooked onions are apparently kosher. The NHF lists only the raw onion as something to avoid. So getting some caramelized onions would be perfectly fine. Although it would be wise to avoid any onion jam and we’ll tell you why later.

Next: Perhaps the most devastating food to stop eating

11. Aged cheese

Close up of blue cheese

Bleu cheese | GathealPhotography/iStock/Getty Images

This list includes, but is not limited to, cheddar, Brie, Camembert, Stilton, and blue. Not all cheeses are to be avoided at all costs. You can still eat Ricotta, Velveeta, cheese curds, and cottage cheese. It’s not the best list in the world, but at least you have a few options.

Next: A staple in the Pacific Northwest

12. Smoked salmon

smoked salmon

You may have to skip your regular Saturday bagel and lox.| margouillatphotos/Getty Images

We are starting to feel like this list is primarily destroying our appetizer course at restaurants. The NHF lists smoked products as something that should be heavily avoided. That is really unfortunate to the food preserving enthusiasts out there.

Next: Don’t “pick” this food if you get migraines.

13. Pickled anything

Sauerkraut | iStock.com

No more sauerkraut or pickles for you. This also includes olives. The NHF says that you should avoid pickled products at all costs.

Next: Don’t waste your hard-earned money on this pricey dish.

14. Aged beef

A Kobe beef dish

Kobe beef is served at high-end steakhouses. | aaron tam/AFP/GettyImages

Go to any steakhouse in America and they will showcase a myriad of dry or wet aged beef products. Often times these are Kobe or Wagyu steaks that have been aged for at 30 days. While it does make the meat literally melt in your mouth, the risk of triggering a migraine or making one worse is really high.

Next: This one definitely makes sense.

15. Alcohol

four different alcoholic drinks in glasses

Limit your alcoholic intake. | iStock/Getty Images

It’s pretty obvious that if you are to drink alcohol in excess, you’re going to get a headache. If you go real hard, you’re going to get what feels like a migraine. But for people who have chronic migraines, it’s best to avoid alcohol as much as possible. At the very least, limit yourself to two drinks.

Next: This food is more common than you think.

16. Sardines and herring

fish on display with a fresh covering of snow and ice in the background

These fish show up in more foods than you might initially think. | iStock.com/JohnDWilliams

The general reaction to these canned fishes is generally “ewwwww!” However, anchovies are in the same category and you eat them more commonly than you would think. How much do you like Ceaser salads? The dressing’s main ingredient is pureed anchovies.

If you are a super fan of these little fish, eating them fresh is still fine. You just want to avoid the canned and processed ones.

Next: If you have a fancy lifestyle, you may consume this food.

17. Pate or foie gras

Foie gras Pate made of the liver of a duck

This delicacy shouldn’t be part of your daily diet. | Lunamarina/Getty Images

Let us start by saying that pate or foie gras is absolutely delicious. It’s also an incredibly cruel food. The good news is that this isn’t a common food in most peoples diet, and the people that do eat it only do so on rare occasions. Nevertheless, it’s certainly a food that should be completely cut out of your diet.

Next: You’re probably wondering why you want to avoid all these common foods. Here’s why.

Here’s why you need to avoid these common foods


These foods may trigger migraines. | iStock.com

All of these foods have one huge thing in common: Time. Every one of them has been aged in some way. When you age food, the food produces a large amount of Tyramine. Large levels of Tyramine come from foods that are “aged fermented, stored for long periods of time, or are not fresh.”

Maintaining a Low-Tyramine diet can help alleviate some of the pain caused by migraines and may reduce the frequency. Every person is different and has different tolerances. This is going to be a trial by error experiment on your self to figure out what diet works best for you. To get a complete list of foods to avoid, limit or indulge in, check out the National Headache Foundations low-tyramine diet list.

Next: Here’s how you can best figure out what food is causing the most harm.

Keep a migraine journal

primary teacher having headache in classroom

Noting when migraines come on may help you discover the why behind it. | Michaeljung/Getty Images

Figuring out what is causing you pain by eliminating one thing at a time will be very time-consuming. Instead, it is recommended that you keep a headache journal. When you have a better idea of when the headaches commonly occur, you can better figure out what is triggering them. Eventually, you should see them cropping up right after you eat any of these common foods. It will also better help your doctor treat your migraine issues.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!