Triggers Are the Top Story: Migraine in the News

December 27, 2017

Tasty But Triggering

Migraineurs can surely relate to what Stephanie Weaver was going through. A certified wellness coach and the author of The Migraine Relief Plan, she was a sufferer of nearly daily headache attacks. As she recently told Fox News, “I was just so sick, I was dizzy.” [1] Even though medications and pharmaceutical drugs helped somewhat, she found herself extremely hampered by her condition. A lover of food and cooking, Weaver, who has a master’s degree in nutrition, quickly learned that things she was eating were triggering attacks.

Knowing this, she set out to learn more about what causes these reactions and set about making changes to her own diet. Among her findings were that processed foods, because they tend to be higher in sodium, sugar, and soy, were major culprits. Furthermore, other foods like onions, citrus, avocados, certain nuts, vinegar, and caffeine could also set attacks off and are common triggers. On top of that, she found that using coconut oil to cook with instead of vegetable oil steered her clear of Omega 6 fatty acids, also play a part. [1]

A Pain-Free Diet

It was clear to Weaver that if she made some dietary changes, she might find a means to reduce the frequency and intensity of attacks. She researched the most common food triggers while also food journaling to get a sense of what to avoid. In addition, she wanted to ensure that what she ate still tasted delicious, so she devised a series of ways to work around problematic ingredients. And a big part of her book collects recipes that do just that; they cleverly mimic taste profiles of foods that need to be avoided. [1]

For instance, instead of yellow or white onions, she would use scallions (essentially younger onions), which did not set off symptoms. For those triggered by soy sauce, she suggests blending mustard seed, maple syrup, and sesame oil together, which creates a very similar taste. The point, to Weaver, is that the fear of certain foods should not prevent you from eating healthily and truly enjoying what you consume. Given that anywhere from 20-44% of migraineurs are triggered by certain foods, it’s a big deal. [2]

Tracking & Taking on Food Triggers

So what are some of the most common food triggers? Individual cases will vary, but here’s a quick breakdown of the most common food triggers: [2]

  • Chocolate
  • Cheese (especially aged cheese)
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, etc.)
  • Alcohol (particularly red wine and beer)

What’s more, other foods or ingredients are often on the list:

  • Caffeinated beverages (coffee, Coca-Cola, etc.)
  • Foods containing MSG (fast foods, many kinds of potato chips, etc.)
  • Cured meats (ham, hotdogs, salami, etc.)
  • Some dairy products

Clearly, a range of foods can be triggering, and it’s important to note that there’s a lot of individual variation when it comes to migraine. This is why many experts suggest migraineurs keep an accurate trigger journal to track what’s causing problems and what doesn’t. This information is not only helpful to sufferers but their doctors as well.

Armed with Knowledge

For Stephanie Weaver, working around food triggers helped her immeasurably. As she told Fox News, “I went from basically being sick all the time to being able to write a book, to travel, and be out in the world.” [1] Lifestyle changes like this are not going to be a silver bullet—Weaver herself does still get attacks—but thinking about limiting dietary triggers may well prove a solid way to help manage the condition.

In the end, taking on migraine requires a multi-faceted approach; it’s essentially a collaborative effort between patient and doctors. And while finding treatments and changes that work may require making difficult choices, it’s surely worth the effort.

If you or a loved one struggle with chronic migraine, the experts at Migraine Treatment Centers of America are ready to help. They employ the latest in technologies and techniques to help find effective solutions. Contact a Patient Care Manager there anytime at (833) 300-6822.


  1. “Eating Your Way Toward Migraine Relief”. 2017. Fox News. Accessed August 11 2017.
  2. “Migraine Triggers: Food And Drinks”. 2017. Com. Accessed August 11 2017.

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