Knowing one's migraine triggers can make a trip to the grocery store easier. However, a few simple tricks can further reduce the likelihood of inadvertently purchasing items that may actually end up being new triggers.
Some migraineurs swear by a “whole food” diet. Foods in this regimen include whole wheat, brown rice, low-fat dairy, soy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. None of these foods are known to trigger migraine, and a diet clear of fried foods and refined sugars comes with its own set of health benefits.
Shopping the “perimeter” of the store — where meat, produce, dairy, and other fresh whole foods are usually located — for the bulk of your shopping is a good strategy for avoiding overly processed and potential trigger foods.
While fresh milk, butter and cream are not known to trigger migraines, there is a potential correlation with outdated dairy products. Always check the date on the carton, and try to buy products that are at least a week away from their posted sell-by date.
Yogurt and sour cream, on the other hand, are fermented products that contain tyramine, and should be avoided as potential triggers. Aged cheeses may also contain tyramine.
Fruit and Veggies
While whole fresh fruits and veggies contain no MSG or other added triggering chemicals, some of them contain naturally occurring substances that can provoke an attack. Citrus fruits contain tyramine, so they frequently appear on lists of migraine trigger foods. Bananas contain both histamine and tyramine, also both potential migraine triggers. Avocado and spinach may be a problem for the same reason.
Some common histamine-containing foods are aged cheese, beer and ale, banana, citrus, eggplant, fish, pineapple, red wine, spinach, strawberry, tomato, and yeast.
Always check the labels on fruit and vegetables that are dried or dehydrated or that are in juice form. These may contain added sulfites, another known migraine trigger.
Besides fruits and vegetables, there are other foods that naturally contain migraine-triggering substances. Phenylethylamine-containing foods include cheese, chocolate, citrus, cocoa, and red wine. When avoiding tyramine-containing foods, make sure to skip aged cheese, beer and ale, fava beans, nuts, olives, pickles, red wine, salted or cured meat, sauerkraut, sour cream, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and yogurt.