Are These Holiday Foods Triggering Your Headaches?

Watch out for these headache-causing holiday foods.

You may get a side of headache when you fill your plate at the holiday buffet this year. Many holiday favorites actually contain ingredients that have been linked to headaches and migraines in some sufferers.(4) While everyone’s possible food triggers vary,this holiday season, you might want to put these foods on the “naughty” list. 


Ever-so-appetizing, that meat and cheese tray may unfortunately bring on a headache before you even sit down to dinner. Aged cheeses — such as brie, blue, and cheddar — generally contain tyramineProcessed meats including salami can also be high in tyramine and have the added issue of nitrates, another possible trigger.


Found on appetizer trays, in green bean casseroles, or roasting on an open fire, nuts are another tyramine source. Don’t be shy about asking if nuts are in the dish — nuts are also a common allergen,(1) so it’s likely that you won’t be the only person wondering. 

Wine and Spirits

From Champagne to seasonal cocktails, spirits are sure to make an appearance during this celebratory season. Alcohol acts as a vasodilator, an agent that widens the blood vessels, which can in turn cause a headache for some.(2Red wine can be especially problematic to headache sufferers, thanks in part to the fact that it contains histamines.

Because everyone’s dietary triggers are different it’s a good idea to start a migraine diary to help identify what foods could be triggers. And keep these useful food swaps in mind at your festive feasts.

Show References

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1. “Common Food Allergies in Infants, Children, Adults.” NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Last accessed Oct. 19, 2015.

2. “Alcohol and Headaches.” National Headache Foundation. Last accessed Oct. 19, 2015.

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