Can Your Diet Affect Chronic Headaches?

By Annette GallagherMay 27, 2016No Comments

Nobody likes getting a headache and having one when you’re at dinner with your family or out with friends isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time. Most people feel like they simply can’t control when they experience headache pain and when they don’t, though. In some cases that might be true, but for other people, some level of control is within reach.

What you eat may play a big role in when you experience a headache. While you may not be able to avoid every food that triggers headaches all the time, you can find out what to watch out for and reduce your intake of those foods. You might just find that headache pain you experienced only when after eating certain foods goes away completely.

Be Careful with that Cheese Plate

Cheese is a common appetizer at restaurants, a regular fixture at potlucks and a special end-of-meal treat at many fine dining establishments. Even if you love cheese, some types are best avoided or limited if you have chronic headache pain around mealtime.

Aged cheeses like Roquefort, parmesan, blue and brie are particularly problematic because they contain the naturally occurring compound tyramine. According to the National Headache Foundation, tyramine can cause problems for people who have frequent headaches.

If you have to eat aged cheeses, try to limit yourself to under four-ounces total. An even better idea would be to stick with non-aged cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta and Gouda.

“No Pickles, Please!”

Whether you’re a fan of an all-beef burger, a well-prepared veggie burger, or you just love a good salty side sometimes, pickles are a go-to food at hamburger, sandwich and most lunch restaurants. However, pickles can wreak havoc on some people because they’re so high in tyramine levels.

When you order your burger or sandwich, ask the waiter or person making your food to leave the pickles off. If they have other crunchy vegetables like radish, cucumber or carrot, you can substitute those if they sound appealing.

Individuals averse to tyramine should also avoid blue cheese, sauerkraut and raw onions on burgers or sandwiches. If you can’t live without these things, have them on the side so you can choose to eat only a small amount.

Order the Salmon

When you go out to a restaurant and you’re trying to figure out what to eat, it can be hard to know which foods are safe if you’re prone to headache pain. You can generally rest easy when you choose a main course of salmon. It’s actually one of the best foods you can eat if you experience headache pain after you eat on a regular basis.

The reason salmon is so beneficial is because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Not only can salmon help keep a headache from popping up, it may also be able to provide some relief when you’re already suffering from one.

Just make sure you avoid other foods on the table that could be problematic, like aged cheeses and raw onions. You should also try to eat wild salmon instead of farm-raised salmon as it’s higher in omega fatty acids.

Other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include halibut, herring, mackerel, oysters, tuna, eggs, flax seed and walnuts.

Houston Headache Institute

Contact the Houston Headache Institute to learn more about how what you eat can either trigger or help prevent headaches and migraines. We’ve helped thousands of people find relief from headache pain and we look forward to helping you, too.