So I know there are foods that we have to avoid that are triggers. Does anyone know of foods that are good for us or that will improve dizziness?

Apparently cayenne pepper is supposed to help dizziness - among a myriad of other things too! May be worth a try (you can probably tell I remain unconvinced about these things).

Try a diet of fresh non-starchy veggies, meats, cheeses, and eggs for two weeks - similar to Atkins Induction phase. Avoid all grains, fruits, and processed foods, especially products containing MSG, nitrates, and aspartame. See how you feel. If it makes a big difference for you the way it does for me, you can then work on adding foods back to see what you tolerate. This one lifestyle change made the biggest difference in my improvement - even more than the medications, although they help too.

(Vegetables are a HUGE component of the Atkins diet, by the way, don’t believe anyone who says it is a bacon, eggs, and steak diet.)

Do you have any good books on the subject?



I’m a bit confused about this Migraine diet thing. Most versions of it don’t exclude grains but you do and I’ve also read elsewhere that wheat, oats, dairy ang eggs are out. Cutting out grains would mean no to bread, cereal , rice, pasta in addition to all the other migraine no-nos, which leave very little left! Does this mean living on fish, meat and vegetables for a while? Are potatoes ok? And I guess tomatoes aren’t as they’re a fruit?
I’m a bit bedridden at the moment and hubbys having to cook and it’s really hard for him if he had to cook stuff separately for me - mykids are quite fussy too!

Marci, have you found you have been able to add back and tolerate any of the possible trigger foods?

I’ve had the most success with diet rather than meds, although I’d still like to be doing better. I avoid wheat and dairy and eat mostly chicken, fish, eggs, fruit, potatoes, brown rice and corn pasta. I’ve recently added in grains again (rye and barley) but really don’t seem to do so well on them. Oats are not so bad but I’m not too sure about them either. Last week I added in some spices and have been ok with herbs all along. On bad days I avoid tomatoes and peppers but on good days can get away with them.

It’s trial and error and very time consuming but at least now when going through a bad patch I go back to basics and stick to my known ok foods. It’s the only tool I use really to help me back to baseline. But I would love to expand my diet somewhat and would be really interested in your experiences. Is there a thread about them somewhere?

Thanks, Brenda.

I’m sorry, I guess I should have clarified. This is not “the migraine diet” but rather my migraine diet. I discovered by accident that eating low-carb makes me feel MUCH better. It can be hard to stick to if you love grains and sugary foods, but it helps me and some others who have tried it. I’m sure like everything else, it won’t work for everyone. But, if you are desperate, as this disease is certain to make you, I recommend giving it a two week trial. If I fall off the wagon, so to speak, and indulge in grains for a while, it only takes me a few days back on the diet to feel better.

The MSG, aspartame, nitrates, and caffeine (which I forgot to mention before) happen to be my triggers I discovered when I tried “the migraine diet” right after my diagnosis when I was very sick.

The simplest way I know to give you a food list is to recommend the induction phase of the Atkins diet for your trial. You can get one of there books or you can get the information for free from the Atkins website. They have the entire plan in detail on their site.

Here is some “official” support for my “unofficial” findings. This is from Dr. Rauch’s article

(3) Migraine diet – there are many foods that are potential migraine triggers. The joke about a migraine diet: make a list of all the foods you like … you can’t have them! The simple way to remember a migraine diet: eat ONLY fresh food. You can eat fruits, vegetables or meats. You can cook your food. But all food must be prepared fresh when you want it. If you do this, you are pretty well on the migraine diet. The list of “Thou Shalt Nots” is long and sad:

  • nothing aged, cured, pickled, or fermented (cheese, beer, wine, alcohol, vinegar, soy sauce, yogurt, sour cream)
  • no caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate)
  • no artifical sweeteners/sugar substitutes (especially aspartame)
  • no nitrites (deli meats – proscutto, pepperoni, salami, etc)
  • no sulfites (red wine, dried fruits – raisins, apricots, etc)
  • no nuts
  • no MSG (monosodium glutamate – take-out Chinese food, and virtually every packaged food in the grocery store – usually listed as “natural flavour additives,” not MSG, in the ingredients label)

Some doctors add many other food items to the restrictions list but an “all fresh” diet is really the core and the key to success.

His version is a little different than mine because I avoid fruits to avoid the sugar highs and lows, and I tested and found I can eat cheeses and nuts without a problem. However, the overall “fresh foods” approach is the same. Breads and grains are not fresh foods - they are processed, so I avoid them and I feel better.

dizzyizzy, as you are unsure of what to eat and hubby’s having to figure it out, I recommend he prepare meals from the Atkins inducation phase and then add in grains, fruits, potatoes, etc. for the rest of the family. So, for example, dinner could be chicken, a side salad with a good flavorful dressing (can be high-fat but no MSG), and broccoli with butter for everyone, then he could add some rice and dessert for the rest of the family.

Thanks for all of the advice!

So bread and fruits are triggers? I am finding it really hard to make meals that don’t contain any of these foods.

Marci, what meals do you usally make then?

I eat lots of fruit…I just avoid bananas and raspberries.
I also find I need carbs otherwise I get really dizzy…my doctor told me oats were a great slow release carb. I can avoid carbs in the evening but need them during the day.
I follow the heal your headache diet , more or less.
I guess we are all different !!!


I really have a hard time believeing the ‘migraine diet’ theory . I do sometimes but then another part of me thinks if your going to get migraine you get it regardless of what you eat and if you happen to eat a ‘wrong’ food and have an attack its a coincidence and would have happened anyway . I know im prob totally wrong! and still try to follow it regardless I did eat some easter egg last night and didnt feel worse for it but thought i would so scared myself into thinking i felt worse if you know what i mean?
im just thinking out loud as usual! It dosent seem to matter with me what i eat I have had a KFC , coke , tea, chocolate and had good days and then go back on the diet and had ‘bad days’ which I think is purely coincidence.
any thoughts ? I may get into trouble now lol

no. actually you’ve more or less said what I sort of suspect deep down - one of the most fantastic-feeling periods of my life was when in Italy, having real espressos and cappuccinos daily and lots of red wine!

However, I may have been in a period of my life when my threshold was naturally high so I could get away with it…

Dizzy Izzy

For me, my food triggers follow the classic pattern as outlined by Steve Rauch. Sometimes in a good patch I can have a little bit of some of it – like a few nuts or get away with fruit or even a small amount of parmesan on my pasta. In a bad patch I can handle none of it. Even on a good day I will not touch anything containing sulfates or nitrates. They spell instant pain and dizziness for me.

A hair product I tried recently had sodium sulfate in it. The pain it created by getting through my scalp was unreal. That night I had very slight rotational vertigo. I gave it a second and third try spaced apart just to be certain and all times the same result.

The fallout from food and certain chemicals is so hard core I am amazed I even survived the early days with this when I was completely in the dark. I can remember one day in particular when I was still in the thick of VN and I bought a pizza. Loaded with cheese, spicey tomato sauce and pepperonis. That night I went to Mars and back but had no idea why it suddenly took such a violent turn. If someone could have made me aware of a migraine problem then things may not have got so bad (might have avoided the anxiety disorder that developed).


Certain foods and/or food additives are absolutely, 100%, a migraine trigger for SOME people. The only way to know for yourself is to try some sort of elimination diet, which is no fun but can potentially help make you better. Only you can decide whether it’s worth it or not. AND, the foods that trigger one person, may not trigger another.

Eating low-carb works best for me. I also can get a temporary fix from a boost of sugar, but then I end up on a glucose/insulin rollercoaster, so I’m best to stick to low-carb. Others will feel lousy eating low-carb, or will find it too difficult. I can eat certain foods on the migraine diet without a problem, while others can’t. Some folks don’t have any food triggers, but again, I don’t believe you can know for sure until you are feeling well enough to notice a difference when you eat a trigger food - hence the elimination diet.

Personally, MSG, nitrates, aspartame, and sometimes caffeine cause an almost immediate response (within 15 minutes or so). Eating a higher carb diet creates a more gradual decline. I can get away with it for a few days and sometimes longer until other triggers start to stack. Then if I switch back to low carb, my symptoms begin to improve within a couple days every time.

I used to be able to eat ANYTHING without having crazy MAV symptoms. I don’t think we can base our situation on what we got away with in our past.

Bottom line, whether to try any diet modification in an attempt to get better is a personal decision. I PROMISE it does make a difference for some.

There has been a lot of talk at lately about food intolerances and many people have had great results following an elimination diet and then slowly bringing foods back in. (I have a feeling this may be controversial among doctors just in the same way that MAV is.) Having a reaction to a food that you are intolerant to isn’t necessarily the same thing as having a reaction to a food that gives you migraine. The symptoms may be the same but the reason behind it is different.

In the last couple of months I have given up wheat/gluten, dairy products, nuts and a few other things. At the start I was about 90% compliant but realized I need to be 100% in order for this to work. It’s been tough because I am a BIG wheat eater and also love my milk. I did notice a difference about 5-7 days after starting this, not a big difference but enough to tell me that something was changing for the better. At one point I brought wheat back into my diet. I was okay with this for about 4 days, then wham, the motion sick feeling came back with a vengance so I took the wheat out again. There are times when I will suddenly get the motion sick feeling real bad but can’t relate it to anything I have eaten, so obviously if food is a problem for me there is still something else going on.

Even though I am feeling somewhat better, I am still a bit skeptical that this is actually working for me - and that is because I found some great gluten free ginger snap cookies which I have been eating by the handful. In the past I have had success with ginger. Looking at the list of ingredients on the bag I see that there must be a good bit of ginger in there as it is listed above eggs. So, I wonder if it is possible that the the food elimination diet really isn’t working for me and I am only feeling better because of the ginger. I even wrote the company trying to get an idea of how much ginger is in eash cooking but they wouldn’t tell me, “proprietary information” they said.

I was sad to learn that I can’t eat everything I want. I’ve tried our favorite Chinese restaurant three times since I’ve been doing better, and each time I was very dizzy the whole next day. Recently, I ate a lot of sausage and got a huge headache. I gave up aspartame at the beginnning - even when symptoms were horrible 24/7, I could tell a diet Coke made me worse. I eat a little nuts, cheese, caffeine, chocolate though. Did learn that three brownies in one day won’t fly (who knew? :). Different people are different, and it certainly isn’t easy to sort out. I’ve learned which fast food restaurants never give me trouble - Chipotle, for one. And I always do great with Indian food, and we cook it a lot at home (no cheese!)

I’m still figuring this out…and caffeine seems to be the most interesting. As far as I know it doesn’t seem to be doing any harm, and when I asked Dr. Hain about it, he told me “you can drink all the coffee you want”. I guess to him this is no biggie, but I hear it elsewhere.

It surprises me that Dr. Hain wouldn’t advise against coffee. Caffeine is one of the most common triggers. Granted, it isn’t a problem for everyone, but it is for sure a problem for many migraineurs. Caffeine is my nemesis. I love my morning coffee, but no matter how much I try to pretend it doesn’t, it causes a temporary symptom flare up. However, it also gives me the kick in the rear I need to get going in the morning, so it is a trade-off. In the beginning of all this MAV stuff for me, giving up caffeine for a while was a key component to stopping the persistent vertigo.

Thanks for the info Marci.


Dizz, from the recipes I’ve seen, paneer tends to be about as innocent as is possible in a dairy product. The next time we visit our favorite Indian restaurant, no yoghurt marinades, no lassi, no bean dishes (including bread) or onion, but . . paneer palak.