You wake up in the morning excited and ready to start your day. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. It’s going to be a great day!
Then suddenly it hits… that dull, aching pain… a tight band wrapping around your head, constricting and getting tighter and tighter. It hurts to even touch your head and your shoulders start drawing up, trying to touch your ears.
You’ve got another headache and there goes your day.
Now, that busy day you had planned no longer looks fun but instead like a chore to just get through (if you even can).
You just can’t take it anymore. It’s got to stop!
Well, I’ve got good news for you.
There is a way to stop most headaches before they start and it can be as simple as changing the foods you eat.
Here are the six foods that could be causing your headaches.
Hidden Headache Trigger #1 – Dairy Products
That milk you poured on your cereal this morning could be behind your headache. Many people who regularly get headaches are sensitive to dairy products so ditch the dairy and see how your headaches improve.
Instead of cow’s milk, try almond, coconut, hemp or soy milk. You can even find soy or coconut milk-based yogurts which taste great. And, in place of butter, try using olive oil on your toast or potatoes.
Hidden Headache Trigger #2 – Gluten
Another food sensitivity that can lead to headaches is gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. When you’re looking for your carb fix, choose whole grain breads, pasta, rice and cereals, without the gluten to reduce your headache symptoms.
Great choices include whole grain or long-grain brown rice, wild and basmati rice, corn or oat cereals and air-popped popcorn
Hidden Headache Trigger #3 – Processed Meats
Processed meats, like bacon, sausage and pastrami, contain chemical additives and tyramine both of which have been linked to headaches.
Choose fresh cold-water fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut, sardines and flounder instead. These give you a big boost of omega-3s that have been shown to reduce headache symptoms.
Hidden Headache Trigger #4 – Salty Foods
Too much sodium is another hidden cause of tension headaches since it can cause dehydration and make your muscles constrict. This is especially likely if you regularly eat out or love those processed, packaged snacks that are loaded with MSG and other chemicals.
Hidden Headache Trigger #5 – Alcohol
Okay, this isn’t a food but alcohol is a big, big cause of headaches so it’s worth a mention. You see, when you drink, alcohol actually changes the blood flow in your brain, leads to dehydration and alters your electrolyte levels – all headache triggers.
Hidden Headache Trigger #6 – Sugary Snacks
That donut that tastes so good can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate and a headache to start, ruining your day.
Other trigger tips to avoid headaches
Now that you know what foods to avoid, let’s talk about a few other things you should do as well…
The first is to manage your stress. That’s because stress is the trigger for the most common type of headache — the tension headache.
You see, what happens is this… when you’re stressed everything tightens up, starting with your neck and shoulders. That tension travels up your neck and even to your scalp. Next thing you know, you’re clenching your jaws and maybe grinding your teeth. Then boom! A headache hits.
Tension headaches can trigger migraines as well, and that something you want to avoid at all costs.
Meditation, deep breathing techniques and exercise are effective ways to manage stress, and hopefully stave off a tension headache.
The next is to get enough sleep. Sleep disorders and migraine headaches go hand in hand. Sometimes obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia can be to blame. Or maybe you just tend to stay up later than you should to watch your favorite TV shows and find you wind up with a headache the next day
If you’re not getting 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep, dig into the cause. Likely your headache problem will improve.
And, finally keep a headache diary. Write down the day, time and what you were doing or eating when your headache hit so you can discover patterns and make changes.
Headaches don’t have to ruin your day. Avoid the foods that cause your headache symptoms and use the other tips above to find permanent headache relief.