Dietary triggers do not necessarily contribute to headaches in all patients, but particular foods may trigger attacks in certain individuals on occasion. 

Be your own expert by keeping a log of the foods you have eaten before a migraine attack, and see whether the removal of these foods from your diet reduces or eliminates your headaches. 

Below is a list of foods that may trigger migraine and might need to be avoided by individuals with migraine.

Download the National Headache Foundation’s Low-Tyramine Diet Guide by clicking here.

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General guidelines


  • Eat three meals each day with a snack at night or six small meals spread throughout the day
  • Avoid eating high sugar foods on an empty stomach, when excessively hungry, or in place of a meal
  • All food, especially high protein foods, should be prepared and eaten fresh. Be cautious of leftovers held for more than one or two days at refrigerator temperature. Freeze leftovers that you want to store for more than two or three days
  • Cigarette and cigar smoke contain a multitude of chemicals that will trigger or aggravate your headache. If you smoke, make quitting a high priority
  • The foods listed in the “Caution” column have smaller amounts of Tyramine or other vasoactive compounds. Other foods in the “Caution” column do not contain Tyramine but are potential headache triggers
  • Each person may have different sensitivities to a certain level of Tyramine or other vasoactive compounds in foods
  • If you are not on an MAOI medication, you should test the use of foods in the “Avoid” column in limited amounts
  • If you are taking an MAOI medication, do not consume foods in the “Avoid” column. Consult with your prescribing physician for additional precautions

Adapted from the Saint Joseph Hospital and Diamond Headache Clinic Headache Diet

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