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Foods That Trigger Ocular Migraines

by
author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods That Trigger Ocular Migraines
Cheese and other foods and drinks can trigger migraines.

Ocular migraines are migraines that affect vision. An ocular migraine generally starts as a blind spot in one's peripheral vision that increases over time. Although triggers and causes of migraines vary, certain foods have been shown to trigger or worsen migraines more than others. Health care professionals at Loyola University of Medicine suggest keeping a food diary that tracks food consumption and onset of the migraines, as well as avoiding particular foods.

Cured or Aged Dairy Products

Aged cheese should be avoided.
Aged cheese should be avoided.

Ripened, or aged, cheese should be avoided. Cheddar, emmenthaler, Gruyere, Stilton, brie, blue and Camembert cheeses all fall within this category. They contain a chemical called tyramine, which is thought to be a trigger. Red wine, beer and soy sauce also contain modest amounts of this chemical. Buttermilk, chocolate milk and sour cream are cured and should be avoided as well.

Chocolate

Chocolate is a known trigger.
Chocolate is a known trigger.

Chocolate is a known trigger for many migraine sufferers. According to Dr. J. Gordon Millichap, this is likely due to the dense amount of phenylethylamine in chocolate. This compound is present not only in chocolate candy, but also in cocoa and non-chocolate items such as yellow cheeses, red wine, citrus fruit and cheesecake.

Additives

Artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas should be avoided.
Artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas should be avoided.

Foods that contain large amounts of additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates and artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Chinese food and canned soups tend to contain significant amounts of MSG, while prepared sausages and bacon contain nitrates. Artifical sweeteners such as aspartame are found in various sugar-free foods and beverages, such as diet soft drinks.

Overripe, Dried or Citrus Fruits

Citrus juices can serve as a culprit as well.
Citrus juices can serve as a culprit as well.

Certain fruits can lead to migraines, particularly those that are exceptionally sweet. Dried fruits, citrus juices and overly ripe fruits are amongst these. Examples include figs, raisins, papaya and overripe bananas. Canned fruit stored in sweetened syrup or with added preservatives can also serve as culprits. In general, fresh fruit is best.

Alcohol

Drink cautiously and in moderation.
Drink cautiously and in moderation.

Alcoholic beverages are a substantial trigger for migraine sufferers and should be kept on the avoidance list. Red wine, beer, gin, bourbon and sherry seem particularly harmful. If you drink, do so cautiously and in moderation and avoid alcohol completely if you sense the onset of migraine symptoms.

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