Is Your Diet Giving You One Big Headache?

Are you running for the medicine cabinet as soon as you feel the slight pang of a headache coming on? I think we all do. There is a way we can be more proactive and decrease the amount of headaches we get simply by looking at our diet.

Research shows that some headaches, primarily the severe migraine type, can be triggered by what we eat. Experts suggest keeping a headache diary. Look for patterns to see which foods or beverages consistently cause headaches. Once you’ve identified a potential trigger, cut it out of your diet and see if the result is fewer headaches.

Here’s some common head-tension culprits to keep in mind:


Formed from the breakdown of protein as it ages, tyramine is found in red wine, overripe bananas, beer, ale, nuts, seeds, soy, chocolate, pickled foods, and some aged cheeses.


Over two cups of coffee a day means increased blood flow to the brain.


Alcohol can trigger a headache or cause dehydration and lead to a hangover headache.


The increased sodium intake MSG may result in a hangover-type or migraine headache.


Usually associated with red wine, tannins are also found in apple juice, black-berries, coffee, tea, chocolate, and carob.


This food additive, found in processed meats such as hot dogs and lunch meat, can increase blood flow to the brain and cause a migraine.

Ice cream

This dessert and other very cold foods can irritate a nerve in the back of the throat and bring on “brain freeze,” which can trigger a headache.

If the diary is too tedious for you, at least try to lower consumption on the above items and see if you don’t notice a change in the number of headaches you experience. Always remember to drink lots of water throughout the day to fend off unwanted head tension.