Food and Migraine

I am a long-time migraine sufferer, but I’ve found that understanding the triggers can really limit the attacks, making them less frequent and less severe.  The trick with migraine is that sometimes multiple triggers are happening at once.  For example, stress and alcohol are both triggers, so I don’t have a drink if I’m really stressed!  Bummer, but those are the facts.  Some people could not possibly have a drink on a plane (cabin pressure is a trigger).  Blue cheese stuffed mushrooms with a glass of red wine – dangerous for others.

Thanks to StumbleUpon, I got a link to a great article that was published on iVillage, on Dealing with 10 Common Migraine Triggers, including food issues.

With food, it gets really complex, because different people are sensitive to different things.  I consider myself  “allergic” to MSG – monosodium glutamate.  If I ingest it, I will get a disabling migraine that lasts 3 days.  MSG occurs naturally in a lot of food, like seaweed, and is also hidden in things with other names, like autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, etc.  I have to be a real pain with friends, and even ask to see labels of things (like broth) they serve in their own homes.   I won’t eat soup in a restaurant unless I know for sure they make their own stock from scratch, because most soup bases (powders) contain some kind of MSG based flavor enhancer.

MSG sensitivity used to be known as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, but interestingly, Chinese Restaurants have become much better, and many of them prominently state that they don’t use “ANY MSG AT ALL.”  The real culprits are chains and fast food outlets.  Jack-In-The-Box has MSG (or one of the hidden items) in almost every sauce, marinade and dressing, and other chain restaurants use it in their central kitchen items too.

Awareness is half the battle.  If you get migraine, know what your key triggers are, figure out what combinations are bad for you, ask when you eat out, and you can prevent or mitigate the damage.


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