Chronic headaches can drive you crazy, especially if you're not sure why you keep having them. For some people, what they eat can cause headaches. If you're consuming foods that trigger your headaches, that might explain your persistent pain. When you eat, and how frequently, matters too.
Making dietary changes is a drug-free way to reduce your chronic headache symptoms. At White Integrated Health Clinics, we support patients in the Fort Worth, Texas, area who are suffering from chronic headache pain. We can advise you on your potential dietary triggers and suggest some changes in your eating habits that may alleviate your pain.
Keep a food and headache journal
One of the biggest complications when it comes to identifying your food triggers is the timing. Symptoms caused by food sensitivities can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours to show up. It can be hard to pinpoint your specific trigger ingredients.
Your best bet is to keep an accurate food or pain journal. Record what you eat, what time you eat, and when you experience headache pain. When you look back over the course of several weeks, you may be able to identify some common patterns. As you start eliminating or avoiding potential trigger foods, keep journaling! You might need to make multiple adjustments before you find the right set of dietary habits to end your chronic headaches for good.
Take note of problem foods
Food triggers vary widely from patient to patient, but there are some typical offenders to take note of.
Naturally occurring chemicals
Sometimes, it's the natural substances in what you eat and drink that you need to watch out for when it comes to chronic headache problems. Pay attention to:
- Caffeine, most commonly found in coffee, tea, and chocolate
- Tyramine, a natural chemical found in high-protein aged foods, most commonly in aged meats and cheeses
- Alcohol, especially in the form of red wine
Artificial preservatives and other food additives can also lead to headaches. Some common offenders are MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame, and nitrate and nitrite preservatives.
Many packaged foods have lots of added sweeteners, so watch out for high-sugar foods, too, especially if you haven't had anything else to eat for a while.
All in the timing
Your overall eating habits, including when and how much you eat, could also potentially be a trigger for your headaches. Don't go for too long without eating. This is one of the most common triggers for headache pain. Eating regular meals and snacks also helps to lower your emotional stress, reducing another strong risk factor for headaches.
Ideally, you should eat regularly throughout the day. Aim to eat three larger meals or six smaller meals, avoiding eating too late at night. If you can maintain an even caloric intake all day long, your metabolism won't become stressed, and your headache won't have a chance to get started.
Changing your diet to prevent your chronic headaches is a process that takes time and care. Too many changes at once may over-stress your system, potentially making your symptoms worse. The support you receive at White Integrated Health Clinics can make the difference. We can help you to successfully identify the problems with your diet and find effective, workable solutions. Schedule a consultation today by calling our office, or book your appointment online.