Tips to reduce migraine risk during holiday season

Certain foods and drinks can trigger migraine in many people, and those who suffer from migraines need to be especially careful to avoid these triggers as they attend holiday celebrations. With this in mind, the American Migraine Foundation and its Chair, David W. Dodick, MD, FRCP (C), FACP, want to help people with migraine avoid these potential triggers, so that they can better enjoy the season. Dr. Dodick is also Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine (Scottsdale, AZ).

"This is the season in which many people overindulge in things that can trigger attacks of migraine," said Dr. Dodick. "It's important to think through food and beverage choices, to help reduce the risk of having a migraine attack."

Dr. Dodick and the Foundation offer the following tips, which can also be found on, along with a wealth of other consumer-friendly tips on reducing migraine risk while enjoying the holidays:

•Skipping or missing meals is a much more common trigger of migraine than any particular food, so be sure to eat regularly during the day. That's three meals … don't skip breakfast!

•Avoid eating within a few hours of bedtime or drinking caffeinated beverages after early afternoon.

•Identify potential dietary triggers. Start keeping a migraine diary now, and see if you can identify particular foods that are followed by a migraine attack at least half of the time you eat them. Avoid those foods, especially during the holidays when stress and other holiday factors may make you more susceptible to attacks.

•Red wine is a common migraine trigger for some people, so opt for white wine or another beverage instead, unless you discover that these others are also migraine triggers for you. And because alcohol and dehydration can trigger migraines, be sure to drink in moderation. Alternating a glass of water with an alcoholic beverage will help.

•Practice healthy eating habits: In addition to not skipping meals, limit your intake of processed foods, sodium, sugar, and caffeinated and carbonated drinks.

"Knowing your food triggers and planning in advance can increase your enjoyment of holiday activities with fewer migraine attacks," said Dr. Dodick. "If you don't know whether you have food triggers, we suggest trying to eliminate specific dietary foods and beverages, such as red wine, processed meats, nuts, chocolate, aged cheese, monosodium glutamate, and gluten-containing foods, to see if they are causing migraine attacks. If these attacks decrease, introducing these items back one at a time can identify the culprit(s), should they exist. Not everyone with migraine has food triggers, but for those with these triggers, avoiding them can often mean fewer migraine attacks."


American Migraine Foundation


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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