Chronic headaches don’t always have an obvious cause. You might spend days, weeks, or even months in chronic pain without knowing what’s triggering your headaches. Not knowing why your head hurts can make you feel like you’re going out of your mind! One place to start with identifying causes is your diet. Some foods can be chronic headache triggers, and your overall eating habits might also be making a difference. Checking in with your diet is a noninvasive way to gain awareness and control over your chronic headache condition. At High Rock Internal Medicine, we’re here to help patients in the Lexington, Kentucky area get a handle on chronic pain problems, including headaches.
Choose foods carefully
If you’re eating a well-balanced diet and still struggling with headaches, you might be being triggered by specific foods. If you have food sensitivities, you’ll see a reaction in anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours, making food triggers somewhat difficult to pin down!
- High-sugar foods, especially eaten by themselves when you’re really hungry, can trigger headaches.
- Tyramine, a natural by-product found in aged high-protein foods, can cause headaches, particularly if you’re taking an MAOI medication as well.
- Some people with headaches are sensitive to caffeine, found in coffee, chocolate, and other foods.
- Some people who menstruate are particularly sensitive to food triggers during the week before their period.
- Temperature matters, and extremely hot or cold foods and drinks can be headache triggers.
- Red wine and other alcoholic beverages cause headaches in some people.
- Additives like MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame, and nitrate and nitrite preservatives can trigger headaches.
Stressing too much about food triggers can, ironically, also be a headache trigger, so it’s best to approach dietary changes gradually, without making too many large adjustments at once.
Take another look at your dietary habits
In addition to what you eat, how and when you eat can also have an impact. If you suffer from chronic headaches, here are some dietary behaviors to avoid, as well as some things to try:
- Try to eat unprocessed, fresh, or whole foods as much as possible.
- Avoid fasting. Many people who suffer from headaches report that going without food altogether is a surefire trigger for their headache pain.
- Make sure you’re eating regularly. You should eat three larger meals, or six smaller meals, spaced throughout the day. Ideally, you should take in about the same amount of calories with each meal, to avoid stressing your metabolism.
Following a scheduled, regular diet can help you feel more in control of your health, reducing stress on you as well.
Our team at High Rock Internal Medicine works with patients suffering from many types of headache pain, including migraines, sinus headaches, cluster headaches, and neurological conditions that result in headache pain. To schedule a consultation to discuss your chronic headache condition and what can be done to alleviate your pain, call our office today, or make an appointment online.