Migraine Safe Foods by Category
Acceptable purchases: Any white, wheat, rye or pumpernickel store-bought bread.
Plain or sesame seed bagels, English muffins, quick breads like pumpernickel or zucchini breads.
All yeast bread must be 24 hours old.
What to avoid: Fresh baked bread, either homemade or from the grocer’s bakery, fresh donuts, fresh breakfast Danish, nut breads, cheese bread, chocolate bread, raisin bread, bagels with dried fruit like blueberry or cranberry bagels. Remember that pizza is fresh bread.
Acceptable purchases: Many cereals are fine. For example: Cheerios, Life, Honey Bunches of Oats, Cracklin’ Bran, Frosted Flakes, Frosted Shredded Wheat.
What to avoid: Cereal with nuts, raisins, chocolate, dried fruit, aspartame, peanut butter or coconut.
Acceptable purchases: Any unflavored cracker such as Saltines, Ritz, Wheat thins, Carr’s Table Crackers and Club crackers.
What to avoid: Cheddar cheese crackers, Chick-in-a-bisket, any flavored cracker.
Acceptable purchases: All plain pretzels and plain potato chips, Tostitos 100% corn chips, Frito’s corn chips, Herr’s salt and vinegar chips.
What to avoid: Soft pretzels, honey and mustard pretzels, onion and garlic pretzels or other seasoned pretzels. Avoid Pringles, Doritos Nacho chips, jalapeno chips and most other seasoned chips.
Acceptable purchases: Blueberry and apple store bought pies if made without lemon juice, vanilla or cinnamon swirl cake, shortbread cookies and vanilla/strawberry wafers, oatmeal cookies without the raisins, rice pudding (no raisins), white chocolate.
What to avoid: Chocolate, chocolate candy, nuts, buttermilk, sour cream, dried fruit (some apricot pies start with dried apricots), peanut butter, lemon extract or lemon juice, almond extract and coconut. Avoid diet and sugar-free products that contain aspartame.
Acceptable purchases: Any oil and distilled white vinegar. (Homemade ranch is good but you won’t find that in the grocery store).
What to avoid: most bottled dressings have one or many of the following; monosodium glutamate, onion or onion powder, grated cheese like Romano or parmesan, natural flavoring, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (or anything other than white).
Acceptable purchases: buy ingredients to make your own at home.
What to avoid: dips and sauces usually contain MSG (natural flavoring) or onions. Avoid salsa, chips dips, tomato sauce like Ragu, alfredo or pesto sauce, gravy, mustard dips, barbeque sauce and guacamole (because of the avocados).
Meat and main meals
Acceptable purchases: Fresh chicken, beef, veal, lamb, fish, turkey or pork. (Some sausage is made without MSG, natural flavor or onion). Be sure the meat is not injected with a tenderizer (like Hatfield’s Simple Tender pork products) or with broth (some turkey and chicken).
What to avoid: Beef liver and chicken liver, marinated meat, ready-made hot wings, barbeque chicken, breaded meat like fried chicken or nuggets or breaded chicken patties, seasoned rotisserie chicken, and any ready-made meal of meat, noodle or rice like burritos, lasagna, Rice-a-Roni and Hamburger Helper. Any canned tuna with broth. Anchovies. Spam. Canned soups have MSG and sometimes onions. Avoid nitrites in ham, hot dogs and most lunchmeats.
Acceptable purchases: Deli American cheese, American cheese with jalapeno peppers, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and cream cheese. White milk is ok.
What to avoid: Aged cheeses like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby and Swiss. Avoid mozzarella cheese, Brie, sour cream buttermilk and yogurt. Beware of products made with cheese like pizza and hot pockets. Avoid chocolate milk due to the caffeine.
Acceptable purchases: Fresh strawberries, apples, pears, grapes, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, kiwi, apricots, blackberries, cherries, cantaloupes, mangoes, honeydew melon and watermelon.
What to avoid: Bananas, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tangerines, pineapples, Clementines, raspberries, plums, papayas, passion fruit, figs, dates, raisins and avocados. Also avoid dried fruits preserved with sulfites.
Acceptable purchases: Preservative-free bagged lettuce like Fresh Express, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, leeks, spring onions, shallots, potatoes (fresh), some frozen mashed potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, carrots, corn, chick peas, mushrooms, canned or frozen peas, yams, string beans, artichokes, red beets, some beans, okra, plain rice, turnips and squash.
What to avoid: Onions, sauerkraut, pea pods, broad Italian beans, lima beans, fava beans, navy beans and lentils. Also avoid boxed potato flakes, like instant mashed potatoes.
Acceptable purchases: Naturally decaffeinated coffee or tea, caffeine-free herb tea like chamomile, pear juice, apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, apricot nectar, caffeine-free Coke/Pepsi, Diet Rite Cola, Waist Watcher Cola/Diet Rootbeer/Diet Black Cherry, Mug Rootbeer, Hires Rootbeer and A&W Rootbeer. Diet soda using sucralose (Splenda) is not a problem. Vodka is the best tolerated alcoholic beverage. White milk is ok.
What to avoid: Coffee, tea, coffee substitutes, hot chocolate, colas, orange soda, lemon lime soda, mountain Dew, any diet soda containing aspartame or saccharin, Barq’s Rootbeer, (they add caffeine to it), chocolate milk, wine, champagne, beer, heavy alcoholic drinks.
Acceptable purchases: Unflavored popcorn that you pop at home, pumpkins seeds, sunflower seeds without natural flavor, sesame seeds and poppy seeds.
What to avoid: Cheddar cheese popcorn, some microwave popcorn, all nuts and nut butters, including peanuts. Coconut is out as well as almond extract.
Acceptable purchases: Any soy is questionable, so you might want to avoid it altogether until you have achieved headache control. Then try the following products one at a time: soy milk, soy flour, plain tofu and soy oil.
What to avoid: Soy sauce, miso, tempeh, soy burgers, products containing soy protein isolate or concentrate and soy beans.
You can download this list here:
Migraine safe foods by category
In our next article we will list a list of acceptable food products.