5 Foods That Might Be Giving You a Headache (and What to Eat Instead)

Updated 04/18/19

We can say from firsthand experience that nothing can quite compare to the throbbing pain of a migraine. With that in mind, we want to keep this quick and informative so you can start healing as soon as possible (staring at a bright screen definitely doesn't help). Many things that can trigger headaches, from hormonal shifts during menstruation to lack of sleep, hunger, stress, and certain dietary habits. Since it can be related to diet, today we're going to focus on the best foods for headache prevention and pain alleviation, which will also hopefully reduce any meal planning–related stress on top of everything else.

 

During our research, we found that organic foods high in riboflavin, aka vitamin B2, as well as magnesium and CoQ10, tend to help alleviate pain. Specifically, B2 helps the body create energy from the food you eat; magnesium is a mineral essential to cell formation, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission; and CoQ10 is an antioxidant crucial to cell growth. Scroll through to see our daylong meal plan for quick, tasty, heart healthy ingredients, and healthy recipes that won't make your head throb, because they use foods rich in each of the aforementioned nutrients.

And at the end, check out our list of five no-fly foods for pain reduction.

For Breakfast: Polenta With Mushrooms and Eggs

Foods That Help Headaches
Half Baked Harvest

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredients: Mushrooms and eggs are high in vitamin B2. One cup of mushrooms contains 17% DV of riboflavin, while one cup of scrambled eggs contains 57% DV of riboflavin. 

Get the Dish: This dish from Half Baked Harvest is a simple recipe that yields a satisfying meal you can enjoy at any time of the day. If you like to start your mornings with something filling and yummy, consider this polenta dish your new favorite breakfast.

For a Morning Beverage: Adaptagenic Moon Milk

Drinks for Headaches
Wu Haus

Pain-Fighting Healing Ingredients: Ginger contains anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and antihistamine actions, and ashwagandha also has anti-inflammatory effects and protects the brain from oxidative stress.

Make the Dish: If you don't drink coffee or you're looking for a healthy morning beverage to sip alongside your cup of joe, take your pick between these warming recipes from Wu Haus. One recipe yields a ginger cinnamon concoction while the other is turmeric-based. While ginger and ashwagandha aren't going to cure your headaches alone, they can help support a healthier diet and reduce migraine side effects like nausea and inflammation.

For a Light Lunch: Flavorful Cauliflower Salad

Foods for Headaches
The First Mess

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredient: Cauliflower is one of the few vegetables that contain CoQ10. It also has B2 and magnesium.

Get the Dish: So you overdid it on the yogurt dip snack before lunch… It's okay—we don't blame you. For a lighter midday meal, opt for a yummy salad. This recipe from The First Mess is packed with delicious ingredients like pistachio dukkah, nectarines, and more. With tons of ground spices, seasonal fruits, and avocado, you'll feel satisfied while also treating your head pain.

For a Filling Lunch: 30-Minute "Sushi" Bowl

Foods to Get Rid of Headaches
Half Baked Harvest

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredients: Tuna is also a great way to meet your CoQ10 needs naturally, with 13% DV of riboflavin. Brown rice has a ton of magnesium, too. 

Get the Dish: If you tend to get super hungry around lunchtime, try this filling lunch option from Half Baked Harvest. Spicy and tangy, this sushi bowl only takes about 30 minutes to make, and it's packed with a ton of ingredients that taste as good as they'll make you feel.

For an Afternoon Snack: Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Best Foods for Migraine Relief
Mitzy at Home

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredient: With 20% DV of riboflavin, yogurt is high in B2 as well as magnesium, so it's gut-friendly too.

Get the Dish: Brought to us by Mitzy at Home, this cucumber and dill yogurt dip is a great way to help fight headaches while also indulging in a yummy snack when you get hungry between meals. Pair it with some pita and/or veggies, and you'll be set.

For an Appetizer: Roasted Squash and Pepita Pesto Dip

Foods that stop headaches
Salt and Wind

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredient: Pumpkin seeds contain riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, and protein while also being low in sodium and cholesterol. 

Make the Dish: Whip up this delicious side dish to enjoy as a snack or serve as an appetizer before dinner. As described by Salt and Wind, "It's friendly to almost any diet, [so] it's a great recipe to make when you've got a lot of guests with dietary restrictions."

For Dinner: Almond-Crusted Cod With Coconut and Ginger Spinach

Foods That Help Headaches
Foodie Crush

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredients: Spinach is packed with CoQ10 while almonds contain B2, and ginger and brown rice both offer a ton of magnesium.

Get the Dish: This almond-crusted cod with coconut rice and ginger spinach from Foodie Crush is the perfect dinner to enjoy after a long day. And not only because it tastes so good. Every ingredient called for in this recipe is associated with alleviating head pain, particularly headaches.

For a Vegan Dinner: Black Bean and Quinoa Falafel Bowl

Foods that stop headaches
Minimalist Baker

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredient: Quinoa contains 12% DV of riboflavin and 30% DV of magnesium, so it's a great grain base to cook with. Black beans are super low in saturated fat and they're packed with protein and magnesium. 

Make the Dish: If you stick to a vegetarian diet, make this bowl for dinner instead. Brought to us by Minimalist Baker, this black bean falafel bowl is smokey, flavorful, fully satisfying, and easy to make. 

For Something to Sip On: Watermelon Blackberry Lemonade

drinks that help with headaches
Salt and Wind

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredients: One serving of watermelon is equivalent to five ounces of water. 

Get the Dish: Make this blackberry watermelon lemonade from Salt and Wind to accompany your dinner. Not only is it the perfect summer drink to cool off while dining alfresco, but the antioxidant-rich berries and watermelon will give you a surge of hydration. Of course, you should also be drinking plenty of water throughout the day, but adding an extra beverage with watermelon in it can certainly help prevent dehydration. 

For Dessert: Pistachio Rose Rice Pudding

foods that relieve pain
Half Baked Harvest

Pain-Fighting Hero Ingredients: Both pistachios and pomegranates contain magnesium.

Get the Dish: This dessert would be high on our need-to-try list, with or without the pain-healthy ingredients. Luckily, this pistachio rose rice pudding from Half Baked Harvest offers up a sweet treat to end the day with while not threatening to make your headache worse.

The Foods You Should Avoid:

While the five foods below may not result in a pounding head for everyone, they have been linked to migraines, hormonal headaches, and tension headaches. Read through to see what foods you can run a trial period on to narrow down your trigger ingredient.

  1. Red wine
  2. Foods that contain additives such as MSG
  3. A lot of cheeses, from blue cheese to feta and parmesan
  4. Chocolate
  5. Salami and other processed meats

For more natural remedies, learn how to get rid of a headache depending on which kind of pain you're suffering from. 

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