Q: I’ve figured out how to avoid my trigger foods at home, but eating out seems like such a chore! Do you have any guidelines for foods to avoid or suggestions on which foods are safe to eat in restaurants?
A: It can be a bit trickier to avoid triggers at restaurants, but you don't have to forsake dining out. Here are some guidelines:
Restaurants to avoid include:
- Cheap buffets: They may leave food sitting too long or use suspect ingredients.
- Chinese food: Possible triggers are MSG and soy sauce.
- Japanese food: Possible triggers are soy sauce, tofu, and miso.
- Mexican food: Possible triggers are beans (fava, navy, broad), cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and (in rare instances) tomato-based salsa.
Restaurants to enjoy include:
- High-Quality American: Order the chicken (grilled, baked, roasted, steamed, boiled, or broiled -- request no MSG, vinegar, or citrus juice); vegetables (steamed or sautéed in olive oil and garlic); rice or potatoes, plain (baked, boiled, or roasted),
- Seafood: Have any fish (grilled, baked, roasted, steamed, poached, or broiled — request no MSG, vinegar, or citrus juice); vegetables (steamed or sautéed in olive oil and garlic); rice or potatoes, plain (baked, boiled, or roasted),
- Italian: Order pasta with broccoli and grilled chicken or seafood tossed in an olive oil–based sauce
- Treat yourself to strawberries with whipped cream; rice pudding; or herbal tea with plain biscotti.
- Avoid chocolate, unless you have confirmed that chocolate is not a personal migraine trigger.
Keep in mind these suggested meals are free from all of the most common migraine triggers. After keeping a migraine diary, you’ll probably find that you are sensitive to only a handful of foods. Once you’ve identified your personal triggers, it will be much easier to order a wide variety of dishes in most ethnic cuisines. While you’re still figuring out your triggers, though, keep this wallet-sized guide handy.
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