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Cooking Without Ingredients that Trigger Headaches

Listings of Allowed and Prohibited Ingredients

By Laura Marks, M.D

The Headache Prevention Cookbook

The Headache Prevention Cookbook: Eating Right to Prevent Migraines and Other Headaches

All the recipes in this book have been created without using the major ingredients that are known to be headache triggers. We have noted which foods should be eaten in only small quantities and have tried to suggest the appropriate limits.

We encourage you to add your own headache recipes to ours. We would love to hear about them so we can share them with other patients. By doing so, you will be helping a fellow headache sufferer.

The list of foods that have been reported to trigger headaches is long and varied. The foods included here are the ones most commonly reported to cause headaches; that's why it's difficult to avoid them without following the headache-prevention diet. Some of you may be susceptible to many of these foods, others to only a few. If you are lucky, you'll find you're not susceptible to any of these foods. The only way to tell is by going on the headache-prevention diet. If you discover an ingredient that triggers your headaches and is not on this list, you should obviously avoid it too.

Vegetables 

Prohibited: Beans (lima, Italian, pole, broad, fava, string, navy, pinto, garbanzo, lentils, snow peas), pickles, chili peppers, olives.
Allowed: All other fresh, frozen, dried, and canned vegetables and vegetable juices. Limit tomatoes to 1/2 cup per day; limit onions to 1/2 cup per day.

Fruits

Prohibited: Dried fruits that contain preservatives (such as raisins, dates, figs, apricots), avocados, papayas, passion fruit, red plums, banana-peel extract.
Allowed: All other fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and juices. Limit citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, limes) and pineapple to 1/2 cup per day. Limit bananas to 1/2 banana per day. (Technically, a tomato is a fruit, so remember to limit tomatoes to 1/2 cup per day.) Organic dried fruits without preservatives (particularly sulfites).

Breads and Cereals

Prohibited: Any fresh yeast product straight out of the oven; for example, yeast breads, crackers, pizza dough, doughnuts, soft pretzels.
Allowed: Store-bought and homemade breads (white, whole wheat, French, Italian, bagels, etc.) are fine as long as they are not straight out of the oven and have been allowed to cool (it's OK to reheat them). Just be careful that they don't contain other prohibited ingredients, such as raisins, nuts, chocolate, or cheeses. Likewise, you can eat all hot and cold cereals unless they contain specifically prohibited items, such as dried fruit or artificial sweeteners.

Dairy Products and Eggs

Prohibited: Most cheeses. Sour cream, whole milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk, cream.
Allowed: Skim milk or 1% homogenized milk. Cheeses: American, ricotta, cream cheese, Velveeta, pot, farmer, cottage. Skim milkbased yogurt (limit it to 1/2 cup per day). Eggs.

Beverages

Prohibited: Alcoholic beverages, especially red wine; beverages containing chocolate or cocoa; diet beverages containing artificial sweeteners.
Allowed: Fruit and vegetable juices, noncaffeinated drinks (if they don't contain artificial sweeteners). Limit caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, tea, or soda, to 2 cups (approximately 16 ounces) per day. For soda, that's a little more than one can a day.

Soups

Prohibited: Most canned soups and bouillon cubes (they usually contain MSG, preservatives, or other prohibited ingredients).
Allowed: Homemade soups and stocks, unless they contain other specifically prohibited foods, such as beans, cheese, or large amounts of onion or tomato.

Desserts

Prohibited: Chocolate, carob, and licorice; ice cream; desserts containing other prohibited foods, such as nuts or dried fruit, or those made with liqueurs; whipped cream.
Allowed: Cakes, cookies, candies, and pies, unless they contain prohibited ingredients; gelatin, sherbet, and sorbet.

Miscellaneous

Prohibited: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and tenderizers containing MSG; soy sauce; vinegar, except for white and cider vinegars; salad dressings containing wine or vinegar, unless it is white or cider vinegar; cooking sherry; olive oil; seeds, nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter; all artificial sweeteners; preservatives, such as nitrates and sulfites; coconuts; capers. Most mustards, ketchups, and mayonnaises.
Allowed: Anything else not specifically prohibited, all herbs and spices, white vinegar, cider vinegar, honey, jams, jellies, dry mustard.

Meat and Seafood

Prohibited: Bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, sausage, salami, bologna, ham; organs (liver and other organ meats) all aged, canned, cured, or processed meat products; caviar.
Allowed: All fresh beef, poultry, fish, or pork products, unless specifically prohibited; tuna and other canned seafood that is packed in water.

Next: Sample Recipes

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