If you are someone who struggles with migraines, figuring out the root cause can be tricky! Everyone’s experience with this chronic condition can be different, but here are three common migraine triggers to watch out for and what you can do about each of them to get your health back on track.
Migraine Trigger #1: Not eating regularly or fasting for too long
If you are someone who skips meals like breakfast or lunch, or does intermittent fasting, chances are this will worsen or trigger a migraine. When you go without food for a period of time, it can cause a drop in your blood sugar aka serum glucose levels.
Glucose is the favoured energy that your brain likes to use the most, so when you have less glucose circulating in your bloodstream your body will compensate and cause your blood vessels to swell or dilate in order to get the proper nutrition to your brain, which can cause head pain.
In order to prevent a migraine, make sure you tryout any of the following:
- Stick to a 12-hour fasting window overnight. Intermittent fasting for longer than that isn’t a good idea!
- Don’t skip meals like breakfast or lunch, even if you are busy. Carve out time in your day to sit and eat your meals!
- Keep high protein snacks on hand in case you start to feel hungry. Options include: tuna on rice crackers, oven roasted turkey or chicken breast, humus with veggies, and yogurt or cottage cheese with your preferred choice of fruit.
Migraine Trigger #2: Consuming too much caffeine
Are you drinking alllll of the caffeinated beverages to get you through the day? If that’s the case, they could be causing you to be mildly dehydrated, which can affect those pesky blood vessels delivering nutrients to and from your brain again, causing head pain.
Health Canada recommends getting no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day if you are an adult, and less if you are a child, breastfeeding or lactating. When evaluating whether or not you drink too much caffeine, make sure you look at your intake of fluids like coffee (even decaf if you drink lots!), black or green tea, sodas, energy drinks. Caffeine can also occur naturally in cocoa products like chocolate, or in pharmaceuticals like Midol or Excedrin.
To prevent migraines, make sure to try incorporating the following into your day-to-day health routine:
- Drink <2 cups of coffee and/or tea per day to stay under the Health Canada recommendation.
- Drink a 1:1 ratio of coffee/tea to water to stay properly hydrated.
- Eat lots of water-logged foods like cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, celery, bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, watermelons, honeydew melons, peaches or nectarines to help optimize your fluid metabolism.
Migraine Trigger #3: Foods in your diet
Unfortunately, foods can also be the culprit for migraine triggers too! Some common ones are chocolate or aged cheeses, but every person is different and can have very individual responses to different foods they eat on the regular! These foods aren’t good or bad, and making sure you maintain a healthy relationship with what you eat is the best step to support your mental health while getting migraine treatment. Certain people are triggered by foods containing high levels of histamine, while others might be triggered by foods high in tyramine. It totally depends on the case!
The most important thing is to work with a health practitioner to help identify what those migraine triggers could be. Eliminating foods or whole food groups isn’t sustainable long term, can be stressful and likely won’t be needed!
We hope you enjoyed learning about three common migraine triggers and what to do to combat them. If you want to learn more about how to optimize your diet to support your migraines naturally, we’d love to work with you!
Book an appointment here with Dr. Liz Dalglish, ND, who focuses part of her practice on cardiovascular care, headaches, migraines, healthy aging, perimenopause, Parkinson’s care and vestibular conditions like Ménière’s disease and vestibular migraines.