Headache Awareness Week - Food Headache Triggers to Avoid

The first week of June is National Headache Awareness Week, a time to learn and spread awareness about this common ailment. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had your fair share of headaches in your lifetime. But how much do you really know about headaches? 

According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), 45 million Americans suffer from headaches at different stages of their life. But did you know that there are roughly 150 different types of headaches, with the most common ones being migraine, tension and cluster headaches? 

Did you also know that headaches can be brought on by different triggers? The NHF lists some of the most common headache triggers as a change of weather, lack of sleep, noise, menstruation, stress and too much computer use.  

But those aren’t the only triggers. There are also specific foods that may trigger certain types of headaches in certain individuals. It is believed that about 20% of headache patients are thought to be food sensitive. 

For those people who believe their headaches may stem from a food trigger, here is a list of foods to avoid: 

  • Most cheeses 
  • Chocolate 
  • Fermented foods 
  • Nuts & nut butters 
  • Sourdough bread 
  • Foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) 
  • Raisins 
  • Papayas 
  • Citrus fruits  
  • Bananas  
  • Pizza 
  • Excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee or cola  
  • Processed meats (hot dogs, pepperoni, salami, etc.) 
  • Alcoholic beverages – (best to avoid altogether but may limit to two small drinks) 

How Do You Know Which Foods to Avoid? 

To really be able to figure out your own personal headache triggers, be sure to track the foods you eat on a daily basis in a food diary. If you get a headache within 20 minutes to two hours of eating a specific food or drink, there is a good chance it may be a trigger for you.