Are The Foods You’re Eating Triggering Your Headaches?

Here are some foods to look out for – and some that are unlikely to cause head pain.

It’s happened to some folks who suffer from headaches: You’re feeling fine, then suddenly a headache comes on, post-meal. Coincidence? Maybe. Or could it be something you ate? Possibly. If so, what?
The good news is that a number of foods have been identified as potential headache triggers in some people, making it possible for you to assess which of your favorite meals and snacks may be a factor in your head pain. However, it’s important to note that there the scientific evidence is inconclusive as to what foods are definitely triggers and what’s not. Everyone is different, and it’s best to consult a doctor with any questions.

Cheese: Potential Headache Trigger

Aged cheese is a commonly reported headache trigger. That’s because the aging process results in a high level of tyramine, which can cause headaches in some people. If you hanker for a hunk of cheese, though, there are some non-aged types that are likely more safe for many, including American cheese and cream cheese.

Processed Meats: Potential Headache Trigger

As is the case with cheese, it’s more about the way the meat is prepared than the meat itself when it comes to it possibly triggering headaches. Meats that are processed, pickled or smoked — such as ham, bacon or salami — have a high level of sodium nitrate, which may trigger migraines in some. Fresh meat and poultry may be a better bet for many.

Fresh Meat & Fish: Not a Headache Trigger

Fresh meat, fish, and poultry are considered a safer bet for people whose headaches may be triggered by certain foods. As with meat and cheese, though, you’ll still want to avoid fish that has been smoked, cured or pickled.

Diet Soda: Potential Headache Trigger

While you may feel that drinking diet soda instead of regular soda is a way to avoid excess sugar and calories, they typically contain aspartame as an artificial sweetener, which has been reported as a potential headache or migraine trigger for some.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that every person, and every headache, can be different. And most people do not have any triggers at all. If you believe certain safe foods may still be triggering your headaches, try keeping a headache diary or a migraine diary to track patterns and consider consulting your doctor.

Additional simple food swaps can also help you reduce head pain.

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