What to avoid to help with headaches
There are plenty of old wives’ tales about food including chocolate, acting as a trigger for migraines and headaches. There’s no evidence that it triggers a migraine, more that you may crave it during times of stress or hormonal changes, or as a migraine comes on. If you’re prone to headaches, you may choose to avoid foods containing:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) a flavour enhancer and preservative that may trigger headaches, if you’re sensitive to it: found in Chinese food, pre-prepared foods, soy sauce, bottled sauces, and flavoured crisps
- Tyramine found in fermented and aged foods such as strong, aged cheeses can be a migraine trigger.
- Nitrates used as a food preservative, found in hot dogs and bacon, may trigger headaches in some people but studies are inconclusive.
Caffeine and cola
According to Migraine Action these are serious headache and migraine triggers. If you drink lots, then wean yourself off gradually as it’s a stimulant and the lack of it may cause headaches. Switch to decaf teas and coffee instead.
Smokers tend to have more migraines, and smoking more than five cigarettes a day may trigger a migraine according to the Journal of Headache and Pain.
Alcohol causes dehydration, a recognised headache trigger. Drink plenty of water alongside alcohol. Some of us are particularly sensitive to wine and its various additives, which can cause severe hangovers and headaches. Certain red wines contain more of these chemicals.