Meal Plan / Diet for Migraine Headaches

Migraine is a neurological condition which can present with a range of symptoms, most commonly a pulsating headache which varies in severity. There may also be nausea, vomiting and heightened sensitivity to bright lights and noise. A migraine episode may last a few hours to three days. In children migraine may present as abdominal pain.

Migraine treatment during an attack consists of conventional pharmaceutical headache remedies, applying warmth or coolness to the affected area of the head, silence, darkness and rest. Treatments for migraine prevention are less successful, and diet may only play a role in some recurrent sufferers. The principles of this migraine prevention diet are to minimise intake of low vasoactive amine foods (listed below) and to consume a high fibre diet, with plenty of fluid. Eliminating these foods has been shown to reduce incidence of migraines in some people.

Foods to avoid (possible migraine food triggers)

  • Game – pheasant, pigeon, partridge, venison, or any other 'hung' meat
  • Shellfish – shrimps, mussels, cockles, crab, prawns
  • Smoked fish – kippers, smoked mackerel, herring, haddock, etc
  • Pickled fish – rollmop herrings
  • Cheese – all types, inc. low fat, cottage cheese, quark
  • Yoghurt – all types, plain and flavoured
  • Fromage frais
  • Peas
  • Broad beans
  • Avocado pears
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Plums
  • Citrus fruits – lemons, oranges, grapefruits, limes, etc
  • Yeast and malt extracts – Oxo, Marmite, Bovril
  • Fruit cordials/squashes – all types, inc. reduced sugar, except blackcurrant
  • Colas – inc. 'diet' and 'Zero' varieties, caffeine-free varieties, Pepsi-Max
  • Strong tea, strong coffee, iced tea, green tea
  • Chocolate – milk, plain, white, cocoa
  • Salt – use sparingly

In addition stick to a healthy diet, avoiding processed foods and junk, and try to consume more high fibre foods drink 10-12 cups of fluid per day. High fibre foods include wholemeal products, fruit, vegetables, pulses, etc

The following example meal plan has been designed for someone who suffers from migraine headaches, and doesn't contain foods which are high in vasoactive amines. It's based on an average weight individual with a sedentary job for weight maintenance. Use this to give you an idea of what are healthy nutritious foods to include, but don't forget to vary your food choices and to drink plenty of water through the day.

High fibre cereal (like Weetabix, bran flakes, Shreddies, muesli, porridge, etc) + 200ml skimmed milk + 1 tsp sugar
200ml apple juice
2 oatcakes
Apple / pear / peach
Drink water
Sandwich: 2 slices granary bread + olive oil-based spread + slice chicken/ham or tuna in low fat natural yoghurt or smoked salmon
Mixed salad inc tbsp sunflower seeds
Drink water
Handful mixed nuts
Apple / pear / peach
Drink water
Evening Meal
Large chicken breast or fillet white fish or lean red meat
Basmati rice or pasta or potatoes / sweet potatoes
Loads of veg or large salad
Drink water
2-3 pieces easy flapjack
Apple / pear / peach
Drink water

Some migraines have been linked to salicylate sensitivity; if you are intolerant to salicylates in food please see our Salicylate Sensitivity Diet information.

Plans for people with illness or medical conditions in no way should override advice provided specifically for you by your doctor, clinical dietitian or other clinician. We advise that you seek the advice of a suitably qualified physician before commencing any exercise regime, following any dietary or nutritional regimen or beginning the use of any dietary supplements, legal or otherwise. The information provided on the Website is intended as information only and does not constitute advice. Therefore, it must not be relied on to assist in making or refraining from making a decision, or to assist in deciding on a course of action.