Headache Prevention Diet

Healthy Dos and Don'ts

Do:

  • Take ginger at the first sign of a headache (1/3 teaspoon or 500 mg). According to the National Headache Foundation, ginger has a small amount of antihistamine and is an anti-inflammatory
  • Get plenty of sleep. Although the reasons are not well understood, studies show that sleep deprivation can cause headaches
  • Take a multivitamin supplement that includes the B vitamins and antioxidants. Deficiencies of these vitamins are a possible cause of migraines
  • Read all labels very carefully to avoid trigger foods
  • Avoid stress, which is considered a key headache trigger

Don't:

  • Go long periods without eating or forget to drink enough fluids. Low blood sugar or dehydration may be other dietary causes of headaches
  • Consume artificial flavorings and preservatives, especially MSG, sulfites and nitrites. Most wines, many dried fruits and preserved fruits contain sulfites. Many canned foods contain the flavor enhancer MSG, particularly Chinese foods. Don't eat processed foods, and focus only on all natural, fresh foods. Also avoid cured meats including bacon, bologna, corned beef, ham, salami, sausage, hot dogs and smoked fish due to the nitrate content
  • Eat foods containing artificial sweeteners, especially Aspartame, found in diet beverages, candy or gum. Be skeptical of foods labeled "diet" or "light"
  • Eat legumes and broad beans, and pods of broad beans, including lima, navy, pinto, garbanzo, pole, fava, string and navy beans, lentils, snow peas and pea pods
  • Consume hot, fresh, yeast-containing breads, including coffee cakes or doughnuts (okay if allowed to cool and okay toasted)
  • Eat certain dairy products, including ripened cheeses (e.g., cheddar, brie, camembert, gruyere), whole milk, sour cream and yogurt
  • Eat nuts, including peanuts, and seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower
  • Eat fermented, pickled or marinated foods -- no pickles, olives, sauerkraut, chili peppers, miso, tempeh or soy sauce
  • Eat particular fruits — papayas, passion fruit, figs, dates, raisins, citrus fruits. Limit bananas to one a day. Limit tomatoes to 1/2 cup per day
  • Use vinegars, except white and cider vinegar. Also avoid most mustard, mayonnaises and ketchups
  • Eat food containing Brewer's yeast, large amounts of onion, chocolate and alcohol or red wine
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