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Headache Sufferers’ Diet
Published January 13, 2012

he first step in the nutritional management of diet-triggered headaches is eating a well-balanced diet. It is especially important to eat three meals a day with a snack at night or 6 small meals spread though out the day.  You should include a good protein source at each meal/snack (i.e. milk, meat, fish) and should avoid eating high sugar foods by themselves, especially when excessively hungry. These actions will help to prevent the ‘hunger headache’.

If you are taking an MAOI drug (i.e Nardil, Parmate) you need to follow a low-tyramine diet.
Individual Food Sensitivities:

Headache sufferers vary in their sensitivity to specific foods. Headache reactions to foods may take anywhere from ½ hour to 72 hours to develop, making them often very difficult to pinpoint. For that reason, it is recommended that you keep a ‘food diary’, with columns for time, food(s) eaten and the amounts, and any headache symptoms.  You should start with a conservative diet (generally, one that does not include any of the foods in the following lists). You can introduce them one ‘new’ food every three days and determine any patterns/changes in headache symptoms. This can be quite helpful and is well worth the time and effort.

Please be aware that headache triggers can have an additive effect. For instance, being over tired is a headache trigger for many people. So is skipping a meal. If you haven’t gotten enough sleep, then rush through the morning and skip breakfast, you will be much more likely to get a headache (and that headache will take up much more time than what you saved in the morning) than if you had missed some sleep but eaten breakfast.

For women only: Many female headache sufferers are much more sensitive to headache triggers when they are premenstrual. Foods that may not bother you the week after your period may trigger headaches the week before your period.

Possible Culprits:

Everyone is unique but there are categories of foods that are more likely to be triggers for headaches than others. They are grouped by similarities of sensitivities (for example, people who find red wine to be a headache trigger often find chocolate to also trigger headaches).