15 Foods That Might Give You Headache - A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Common Culprits

15 Foods That Might Give You Headache - A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Common Culprits

Many people do not know the fact that certain foods can trigger headaches or migraine. Yes, it is true! A sudden dietary change or some type of specific food might not be suitable for all. Therefore, if you are planning to include any type of new foods or dietary changes, it is important to make sure it suits your body and overall health, especially if you are having any type of health issues. Below is a comprehensive guide that can help you understand different types of foods and drinks that can trigger headaches or migraines.

How Foods can Trigger Headaches?

Headaches or migraine are a very common problem found in all age groups these days. As most of us think, it is not because of some obvious reasons like stress, mental tension, or sinusitis. Little do people understand that certain foods or dietary changes could be a reason too for frequent headaches. A headache is a pressure-like sensation or discomfort that occurs on different sides of the head. On the other hand, migraine occurs only on one side of the head. According to some experts, foods and beverages might be responsible for 30% of the headaches. 


One of the main reasons for headaches due to food is the sudden switch to very low-calorie diets. Crash dieting like cutting down or eliminating carbohydrates completely can cause headaches as the brain uses carbohydrates as fuel. And when you restrict the carbohydrate intake completely, it can lead to different issues like headaches. Another main reason is low blood sugar levels. This is commonly seen in people who skip their meals or keep long intervals between their meals. In some cases, low water intake can also cause headaches. 


In India, where food plays an integral role in daily life and culture, certain dietary choices can exacerbate headaches or migraines. In this blog, we'll explore 15 foods commonly found in Indian cuisine that may trigger headaches for susceptible individuals.


The Top 15 Foods that Trigger Headaches Include:

  • Coffee: Indians are slowly becoming more used to coffee, especially South Indians. While moderate coffee/caffeine consumption can elevate headaches sometimes, excessive intake can trigger them. This can also happen if you withdraw from coffee drinking habit suddenly. Some common sources of caffeine in Indian cuisine include ready-to-brew coffee, filter coffee, and some caffeine-based soft drinks. 
      1. Aged Cheese: These days more and more people are using cheese in their diet. However, not all cheese causes headaches. In most cases, aged cheese like cheddar, blue cheese or Parmesan cheese can headaches for some people. This is mainly due to the high tyramine content in them.  
      2. Processed Meats: According to some experts, processed meats are also one of the main culprits that cause headaches and migraines. Most of the time, popular meat choices like sausages, deli meats, or bacon contain additives and different types of preservatives that can trigger headaches. If you are facing such issues, it is always important to go for fresh and unprocessed meats. 
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption is also known to trigger headaches and migraines. Most time, drinks made of spirits like whiskey and rum, as well as beer and wine are known to trigger migraines and headaches. Some compounds found in alcohol, and dehydration caused by them can contribute to headaches. 
      1. Chocolate: Chocolate is a beloved snack for many and it is more commonly found in many desserts and snacks. However, they may contain caffeine and other compounds that may trigger headaches. Therefore, if you are a caffeine-sensitive individual, you may have to avoid chocolate or overconsumption of chocolates. 
      2. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate): MSG is a very common taste enhancer used in dishes, especially Chinese and some Indian dishes. In some individuals, MSG can trigger headaches as well as other adverse reactions. They are most commonly found in instant noodles, packaged snacks, and Chinese cuisines. 
  • Nuts and Seeds: While nuts and seeds are nutritious additions to the diet, certain varieties like peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds contain tyramine and other headache-triggering compounds. 
      1. Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes are rich in vitamin C but can also trigger headaches in some people due to their high acidity levels. 
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, a commonly used artificial sweetener in sugar-free products and diet sodas, has been linked to headaches and migraines in some individuals. 
  • Onions: Onions are a staple ingredient in Indian cooking, but raw onions, in particular, contain sulfites that can trigger headaches in sensitive individuals. 
  • Pickled and Fermented Foods: Pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods are popular accompaniments to Indian meals but can contain histamines and other compounds that trigger headaches. 
  • Certain Fruits: While fruits are generally considered healthy, bananas, avocados, figs, and raisins contain tyramine and other headache-triggering compounds that may affect susceptible individuals. 
  • Salty Foods: High-sodium foods like papad, salted snacks, and pickles can contribute to dehydration, a common headache trigger. Moderation is key when consuming salty foods. 
  • Cured or Smoked Meats: Cured meats like salami, pepperoni, and smoked salmon contain nitrates and nitrites, which may trigger headaches in some people.
  • Baked Goods: Baked goods like bread and pastries, particularly those made with yeast or refined flour, can contain additives and preservatives that trigger headaches in susceptible individuals.
  • Conclusion:

    If you are facing frequent headaches, it is very important to practice mindful eating. This will help you to manage headaches and migraines effectively. The right food choices will also help you to reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. When you are choosing a diet, it is quite imperative to choose a balanced diet, and also stay hydrated as much as possible. 

    If you are starting a new diet and facing issues like headaches, it is imperative to seek medical advice. With informed choices, you can enjoy all types of food and also stay healthy.