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What Foods and Drinks Trigger Migraines?

Dr. Charisse Litchman

Medically reviewed by Dr. Charisse Litchman, MD, FAHS on September 1, 2020

Different foods and beverages can trigger new migraines and make existing migraines worse. Below is a list of some common triggers, but each person’s triggers are individual, and the food and drink listed below do not always trigger a headache. Therefore, Nurx does not recommend eliminating all of the foods on the list.

Common food and drink triggers

Dairy: Aged cheeses, ice cream, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt

Meats: Aged, cured or processed meats containing additives such as MSG or nitrates, including ham, bologna, hot dogs, bacon and sausages.

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Fruits and vegetables: Citrus, figs, raisins, bananas, avocados, onions

Legumes: Beans


Alcohol: Especially red wine and beer

Caffeine: Chocolate, coffee, teas, sodas

The general rule is that if foods or beverages trigger a migraine, the migraine will occur within 24 hours of consumption. Sometimes reducing the number of days you consume a food will be enough, rather than eliminating it entirely — the key is moderation. So, if there is something that you are eating or drinking three or more days a week, try reducing the frequency to twice a week. 

To understand your triggers

When you feel a headache coming on, write down everything you’ve had to eat or drink for the 24 hours prior to the onset of your symptoms. If you do this consistently, patterns will likely start to emerge. 

A note on caffeine

Caffeine can often be enjoyed daily without worsening headaches as long as you don’t consume more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. Remember that in addition to coffee, caffeine is also found in sodas, tea, chocolate and over-the-counter migraine remedies. Further, decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine and specialized forms of coffee, like espresso, may contain more caffeine than your average cup of joe. 

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