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Identifying Migraines Triggers: Part 2

Are you scratching your throbbing head as to what is triggering those awful migraines? While the direct cause is still a little foggy in the mind of researchers, the food on your plate could reveal many culprits.

With millions of migraine sufferers in the United States alone, the triggers and level of tolerance can vary, but here’s a look at the most common foods trigger.

1.     Caffeine

Caffeine can be just as much of a friend as it is a foe. In the short term a little caffeine may be good to kick a looming migraine, but regular or excessive consumption could be actually bringing on more migraines.

Swap: Even decaffeinated coffee and tea still contains a small level of caffeine, opt for an herbal tea instead.

2.     Chocolate

Caffeine and other ingredients in chocolate often contribute to a not-so-sweet side effect when it comes migraines.

(Check out the migraine that started with a kiss.)

Swap: Carob may be a better option to satisfy those chocolate cravings.

3.     Nuts

Whole nuts as well as nut butters and milks can trigger migraines, but because this is a broader category it’s valuable to test nuts individually. For those that prove to be triggers, pay special attention to the ingredients of baked goods and sauces such as pesto or the oil in which some foods are cooked that can be nut-based.

Swap: Test out some of the nut-free alternative butters and milks.

4.    Preservatives

Add migraine-trigger to the long list of reasons to minimize processed food in your diet. Nitrates and MSG can be among the worst. Nitrates can be found in lunch meats, bacon, sausage and hot dogs and monosodium glutamate (MSG) is commonly found in Chinese food, Ramen noodles, soy sauce as well as many processed foods and seasonings.

Swap: Look for more natural versions and “preservative-free” labels or choose fresh, whole foods to avoid these preservatives all together.

5.     Artificial sweeteners  

They may be lower in calories, but fake sweeteners can cause real pain in your head. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin have found their way into countless products so it’s important to read labels – especially those touting to be low calorie or low fat such as diet beverages, soups, low fat yogurts and salad dressings, and even gum.

Swap: Enjoy a homemade dressing, soups or when out, go for the original product and just enjoy a smaller portion.

It can be a time-consuming process to identifying your personal food triggers, but eliminating these common culprits could put you on the road to more migraine-free days a lot faster.

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