Migraine Triggers

There are many factors that can trigger a migraine, including food and drink, emotions, and the environment. One way to determine whether you are susceptible is to keep a detailed diary and try to determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship.

Food and Drink

  • Aged cheeses
  • Foods containing tyramine or nitrites (smoked/cured deli meat, luncheon meats, hot dogs, bananas, avocados)
  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Citrus fruits
  • Monosodium glutamate or MSG (found in Chinese food, commercial pizza, many processed food products; also described as a “flavor enhancer”)
  • Peanuts
  • Pickled foods
  • Olean™ 

  • Beverages containing alcohol and sulfites (especially wine), Nutrasweet™, and caffeine may need to be avoided. Some people are sensitive to dyes or other chemicals added to food.


Does stress cause migraine? Probably not, but it can certainly provoke it. Sometimes migraines are worse during periods of stress. Others notice that the migraines are worse after the stress is over, such as on the weekend or the first day of vacation.


Certain odors (strong perfumes, fumes, etc.) can provoke migraines. Others will develop migraine if their sleep pattern changes and can prevent migraines by waking up at 
the same time each day, even on the weekend. Migraine is often triggered by changes in the weather, sometimes leading to the incorrect diagnosis of “sinus” headaches. Very bright lights or loud noises may also trigger a migraine. Regular exercise is helpful.