The most important role food plays in migraines is as a trigger. Not all the foods on this list will cause migraines in all sufferers, and some people have no food sensitivities. In order to determine what your particular triggers are, I recommend keeping a migraine diary. If you discover that one of the foods listed here is a trigger for you, then you know that you should avoid that particular food if you want to minimize migraine frequency.
Common Food triggers include: Tyramine or Phenylethylamine: Chocolate, aged or fermented cheese, soy foods, all nuts and most seeds, citrus fruits, vinegar (red and balsamic), along with other foods containing tyramine or phenylethylamine. Alcohol. Beer, red wine, sherry, and vermouth contain large amounts of tyramine, which can cause migraines. In addition, all alcohol can cause dehydration, which also can trigger headaches.
Avoid eating leftovers. Because tyramine content increases over time, especially if food is improperly stored, avoid eating leftovers. Tannins: Tea, red skinned apples and pears, apple juice and cider, and red wine, which contain tannins.
Deli meats and other food containing Nitrites. These include pepperoni, bacon, hot dogs, sausages (including chicken, turkey and soy sausages/bacon/hotdogs that list nitrites in their ingredients), bologna, pastrami, jerky (beef and turkey), corned beef, and all other beef/poultry/pork/wild game/fish that have been cured, smoked, pickled, canned, or preserved with nitrites.
Wine and other foods containing Sulfites. This preservative is commonly found in wine (more so in red), most dried fruits are typically preserved with sulfites (including prunes, figs, apricots, etc.), canned vegetables, and many processed foods. Additives. Check labels carefully and avoid foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), kombu extract, any products claiming to have “natural flavor” or “natural flavorings.” Aspartame. Can trigger migraines in some people. Be cautious of foods and beverages made with this artificial sweetener (also known as Nutrasweet and Equal). Caffeine. People with sensitivity to caffeine can develop migraines after drinking black tea, green tea, coffee, cola soft drinks, or other caffeinated soft drinks. But caffeine can also be used to stop a migraine that is just beginning—that’s why many over-the-counter migraine medications contain caffeine. Test your personal response to caffeine. If it gives you headaches, avoid it. Otherwise, try drinking one cup of coffee or 2 cups of strong black tea at the start of your next migraine to see if it helps. In 2005, German researchers reported that when people took a combination of 250 milligrams of aspirin, 200 milligrams of acetaminophen, and 50 milligrams of caffeine (an average 8-ounce mug of coffee has 100 milligrams caffeine) at the start of their migraines, they had better and faster pain relief than people who did not take the caffeine.