Confused about MAV diet

I’ve seen several versions of the MAV diet online and have some questions:

  1. Are all cheeses out or only aged cheeses?
  2. Does the restriction on nuts include seeds, like sunflower seeds?
  3. Are onions and citrus usually restricted for us MAVers? (I don’t find them on all anti-MAV diets.)
  4. Is soy sauce inherently bad, or only because MSG is often found in it?

Thank you!

Hi Batman.
I know this can be overwhelming and confusing at times. While there are many possible food triggers, most people find trouble with only a few of them. So the first advice is to know you will need to test them all out for yourself because you may be pleasantly surprised. About cheeses, the aged ones are a common culprit. White and soft cheeses are better tolerated but not by all, I would recommend you cut them all out for a month then reintroduce the “safer” varieties and see what happens.

Some info says in testing sensitivity to nuts, cut out seeds and legumes (peanuts) too. I did at first, reintroduced peanuts and peanut butter with no troubles, same with seeds, and can have nuts in lesser amounts and infrequently. That is the case with a number of common triggers, I pay attention to my symptoms and when feeling well, can push the limits a bit here and there. But for me I have not had any trouble with peanuts and sunflower seeds.

Onions and citrus…very individual again. Onions for me are not a trigger at all, if suspicious leave them out for a spell then reintroduce. Some find raw onions a problem but cooked ones not. Citrus is a trigger but a mild one so small amounts aren’t a problem for me. I will have some trouble if I eat an orange or drink orange juice but can tolerate smaller amounts mixed in with recipes. Thinking about fruit, be sure to test out bananas. They contain tyramines. Some have trouble with red plums.

Soy sauce…first find one without msg. Some may have trouble because of the aging process. I am fortunate that it is not a problem for me, but test it out when you are feeling better to see if you get a reaction.

Another thing to eliminate for a spell…chocolate. It contains theobromine and phenylethylamine, those things affect some badly, some are affected by the caffeine, others not, but many chocolates contain dairy products that can be a problem for some.

Chart symptoms daily for a few months, what you eat, drink, or take in (meds and supplements, including inactive ingredients like gelatin and lactose), including condiments, times of day and your symptoms (intensity and times of day and duration). Patterns may start to develop, and also it makes it easier to keep track of what you are eating. Read labels well. Look for food additives, not only msg but it has a number of other related additives that are related. Nitrites,nitrates are common offenders, found mostly in processed meats. There are awesome alternatives that are available in healthy food stores and increasingly among big brands. Eliminate sulfur/sulphur found in dried fruits including raisins and processed coconut.
Check out this link…

I highly recommend this book…
Heal Your Headache, by David Buchholz. He goes into details about migraine offenders and why they may be a problem. The book is excellent for self help and also to know when to seek help. He busts migraine myths and explains their true nature.
Also this book is excellent…
The Migraine Brain, by Carolyn Bernstein

Soy is very individual but keep in mind the extremely high sodium content in soy sauce which presents a problem for many people. I agree with Burd, it’s all experimentation and also knowing when you’ve been pushing your trigger threshold too high. I was able to eat some things over the holidays that have been off limits for a long time: decaf coffee, wheat, tiny amounts of chocolate, etc. but I would not be able to consume any of these things on a daily basis. The dietary restrictions can seem very overwhelming and a bit depresssing at times but seldom does a person need to restrict all items from every category. Good luck finding foods that you can eat and enjoy!
P.S. I also found that I can eat seeds and some nuts but not almonds… weird.

Thanks very much for the replies, burd and Gail! Burd, thanks for the reading resources too. My problem is my symptoms are constant. I don’t have episodes; I’m rocking on a boat 24/7. Haven’t had even a moment when the dizziness or the tinnitus went away since this all started years ago. I didn’t get a MAV diagnosis until this year. I’ve never noticed much fluctuation with symptoms according to with what I eat except for foods that cause hypoglycemia. But I’ll try this diet for a month to see what comes of it. I’m going to keep onions and citrus in for now but cut out caffeine, chocolate, MSG, most cheeses, yogurt, dilled products, nuts, including sunflower seeds, and just limit my citrus and onions.


P.S. My apologies for posting this in the General Discussion area. I was actually trying to post in the Diet section but apparently did not succeed!

Hi Brian
You may get off the 24/7 rocking boat just by making some dietary changes. It may not cure anything, but hopefully you will get noticeable results. The food and additive thing can be so tricky and it’s very individual and variable: what I eat this morning may not be what I can eat tomorrow as weird as that may seem. It can be a bit maddening but I definitely can trace symptoms back to food often enough. Let us know how your elimination efforts go!

Hi there,

  1. Are all cheeses out or only aged cheeses?
    All cheeses seem to cause me problems though some say there are young cheeses that will not kick this off. Cottage cheese is supposed to be OK.

  2. Does the restriction on nuts include seeds, like sunflower seeds?
    Seeds never bother me but nuts do. Seeds are generally thought to be OK.

  3. Are onions and citrus usually restricted for us MAVers? (I don’t find them on all anti-MAV diets.)
    Onions definitely do my head in and citrus causes troubles sometimes but not always. Apparently you can substitute chives for onions.

  4. Is soy sauce inherently bad, or only because MSG is often found in it?
    Depends on the soy sauce for me. The cheap ones tend to be bad probably because of cheap additives and preservatives.


Fresh mozarella (the wet stuff) seems to be okay for me. Also cottage cheese, farmer cheese, American Cheese (feh), chevre, halloumi, cream cheese

Great questions on the food, Scott. I haven’t been able to eat much dairy period but haven’t recently experimented with the white or “young” kinds. Aged and yellow cheeses are supposed to be the worst - yellow cheeses have highest amounts of tyramine the same deadly amino acid in nuts. So far I’m able to eat sunflower and pumpkin seeds as long as they contain very little salt but can only sneak in a few nuts though no almonds. I’m not sure on onions yet, either and haven’t discerned a pattern. The different migraine diet books seem to differ on onions and even tomatoes/tomato products. So many people say that it depends on whether they have been cooked.

I’ve been doing pretty good about sticking to the diet except for cheese of and on but i feel bad for my BF seems like his diet is now limited because of mine since i do all the cooking.


Hi Chris
No kidding… actually, I try to amplify the foods so that my husband doesn’t get bored with it all… and, that’s the beauty of eating out at safe restaurants (we have our favorites where I can go).

Searching the forum for diet related posts I came across this one from Dec 2010. Wondering if Batman4god is still active here and how his diet worked?

I am a 24/7 rocker, like he stated he was, for a year now with no “episodes” or food triggers I can spot. 3 weeks into a restricted diet was hoping for some positive reinforcement either way. If I don’t have any food triggers there’s a peanut butter,chocolate and cheese sandwich with my name on it. :slight_smile:

Batman are you out there? Or any other 24/7 rockers who have stopped this incessant movement via diet change.

gotham citizen,

— Begin quote from “JohnZ”

Or any other 24/7 rockers who have stopped this incessant movement via diet change.

— End quote

Hi John,
In my mid 20’s I started getting sicker with time and once symptoms began to seriously ramp up, I was heading fast towards vertigo. For months I was dizzy every day, sometimes debilitating, with ear pressure building, tinnitus starting, and feeling nauseous every day along with the dizziness. My doc said to cut out all dairy foods, being careful to watch for the separate elements so often used (whey, lactose, casein) and within a month all my symptoms cleared up, and many I had struggled with for well over a decade previously like daily headaches and occasional intestinal flare ups. It was awesome. So for me, back then, diet change did the trick. and for the next 20 years it would be fine as long as I stayed away from dairy, because any time I’d test my limits, I would end up with a reaction. Until my mid 40’s. Body chemistry changes, and I became intolerant of much more and over a period of time. More food issues came into play, mostly additives, but the worst offenders were airborne. Making adjustments made a big difference for me in getting quality of life back. I was a real mess for a while until I figured it out.

For what it’s worth, here are the results of some experiments I’ve made lately.

Tuesday afternoon I tried adding some almond extract to the vanilla ice cream I was eating. Wednesday, I had a lousy episode. Could have been other elements contributing, but there it is.

Today, Thursday, I was shadowing a colleague on the job (electrical inspection), traveling with him, and he chose KFC (gussied-up fried chicken)for lunch. They were out of the roast chicken, so I ordered their regular breaded crap, and rubbed the breading off. So, far, so good!

I am hoping to be able to put Greek yogurt back into the diet as I love it for one, and it’s a protein and calcium source for another. Makes an easy breakfast for me as I am someone who def needs to eat within an hour of waking. It looks like some people tolerate yogurt well; I’m wondering if anyone’s tried Greek style?

Also re soy: Has anyone tried Bragg’s Aminos?? I have used it in the past as it has about 1/10th the sodium of soy sauce and is full of amino acids but haven’t tried it yet. It’s made from non GMO soybeans, and has a trace of naturally occuring MSG but no added MSG. The website info says the inventor is herself sensitive to MSG, and so am I. I have used it in the past and not been affected, whereas Chinese restaurants who do use MSG, and sauces with MSG make me feel sick, give me a headache etc.

Thanks guys n gals again it’s been lovely to find you!! :slight_smile: