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Migraine: A Journey to Rise Above 4 of 10

Updated on March 15, 2012

This article continues my journey to overcome daily chronic migraines and the other conditions that go hand-in-hand.

Oh, sweet chocolate!
Oh, sweet chocolate! | Source

Migraines & Diet

Another suggestion my doctors made early in my treatment plan for chronic daily migraines was to follow a migraine diet. I come from a family of cooks and enjoy food and cooking very much. At first when I discovered the “do not eat” list for migraine sufferers I was a little overwhelmed. I started reading labels and realized how many individual foods that I used to think were healthy for me were in fact not. I investigated what this would mean to my daily diet. Regardless of the inconvenience, I was not going to disregard this recommendation if I could reduce my migraine symptoms with my own actions.

I learned that there is a chemical that exists in some natural and most cured foods called tyramine. The longer a food cures the more tyramine in it. Coupled with man-made food chemicals such as preservatives, flavor enhancers and such, these act as a firestorm in my body; a constant chemical migraine trigger. This is the food hot list I created for myself:

Foods to Avoid

  • nuts and nut products, including peanuts and peanut butter
  • fresh baked yeast products, yeast derivatives, sourdough breads
  • certain beans: broad, lima, lentil
  • pickled products: including sauerkraut, vinegars, pickles, olives
  • ripe bananas
  • soy products as well as the bean itself
  • food chemicals, additives, and preservatives
  • sodium nitrate, nitrites, sulfites
  • guar gum, carrageenan (sp?), soy lethicin, other emulsifiers
  • BHT, benzoic acid and its associated compounds
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate) and its derivatives: dextrose, dextrin, maltodextrose, maltodextrin
  • Aspartame, sucrose, and all other artificial sweeteners

Cheeses which have been aged, the longer a food ages, the greater the tyramine content is:

  • Blue cheese, Brie, Cheddar, Feta, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Muenster, Parmesan, Swiss
  • Processed cheeses and cheese products
  • Alcoholic beverages, especially wine and beer
  • Chocolate, cocoa (since it is derived from a bean)
  • Aged, canned, cured, smoked, or processed meats such as lunch meats, sardines, anchovies, jerky, dried fish, bacon, sausage, ham, and more
  • Dried fruits including figs, raisins, and dates
  • Fresh pizza, because of the fresh baked bread and many of the toppings
  • Pre-packaged food: flavored chips, crackers, cookies, certain cereals, frozen meals, canned soups, etc…

Foods That Are Okay

  • Cheese: Jack, cottage, and cream cheese
  • Sour Cream /Yogurt, specifically Low Fat Tillamook (Tillamook company process reduces/eliminates tyramine in low fat products)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Alcohol: Vodka – 1 or 2 occasionally
  • ½ banana per day OR ½ apple per day (both fruits have natural tyramine)

Other Recommendations

  • Read all labels carefully and thoroughly, use foods with “no preservatives, no additives” when possible.
  • Use “Organic” food when possible, including dairy, meat, and produce.
  • If fresh vegetables are unavailable then use frozen ones. Canned vegetables are never a good choice.
  • Make home prepared meals and sweets from scratch as often as possible.
  • Use “Better Than” Bouillon paste in a jar instead of cube bouillon or canned.
  • Eat lots of fish, supplement with ground flax seeds or flax seed oil – high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Soda brands (non-diet only) Blue Sky or Hansen’s (or other “Organic” soda’s).
  • Keep processed sugar intake to a minimum.

I continue to adhere to this dietary plan as closely as possible. To do so, I eat out infrequently, meal plan each week, and shop and cook meals using fresh ingredients.

I also learned about food allergies and sensitivities. Please read my next article.


Thanks Dr. Piercy!

My neurologist gave me positive feedback on my articles. Her comments:

"it is so great that you were able to gain so much insight and experience...I think your story will be an inspiration for other patients in similar situations....Also, you should consider writing about Botox or Toxin injections for migraine treatment. This could be helpful and informative for other patients."

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