Migraine attacks are often triggered by your diet. Food-related triggers occur in about 10-20% of people with migraine.
The best way to identify food triggers is with an elimination diet. The RPAH Elimination Diet in particular is a science-based rigorous process for identifying food intolerances and developing a personalised diet for you. It is best done with the help of a dietician.
Diaries are useful for documenting your symptoms and identifying patterns, but are not always reliable for identifying food triggers. This is because sometimes the food you think is a trigger because it is something you often eat before an attack, is actually something you crave - that is, it is a symptom rather than a trigger. That's why a diagnostic elimination diet is the best way to identify food triggers.
Heal Your Headache is a very popular migraine diet. This diet removes foods high in histamines from the diet. There are a number of variations that focus more on Tyramines or are otherwise more or less permissive in what you can and can't eat. It is hard to remember all the lists of foods sometimes, but might be an easier way to try removing some of the higher chemical load foods from your diet helps before committing yourself to an elimination diet process.
The low-FODMAP diet is another scientifically based diet with similar principles. FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols” which are short-chain carbs that are resistant to digestion. This diet was developed for people with irritable bowel syndrome, and while there isn't good data to support its used for people with migraine, the abdominal symptoms of migraine are often misdiagnosed as IBS. So if you do have a lot of gut symptoms, you may wish to try it.
Some people also find benefits from going sugar-free, gluten-free or vegetarian. There are a lot of diets around, but as always, be wary of anyone calling their diet a 'cure' or a 'miracle'... they're only after your money.
Generally, eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated is important when living with migraine. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day, and make sure you look after your gut health by eating at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day.
Not eating enough food or missing meals is one of the most significant dietary triggers. Try eating more smaller meals a day rather than three large meals – and don’t forget to have healthy snacks between meals. It is important to schedule regular meals during the day, ensuring your blood sugar levels do not decrease significantly - hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) has been linked to migraine attacks.
For more information on migraine and food triggers, click here.