Stress Eating and Migraines
If you have ever had a splitting headache with pain far more severe than a typical headache, you might actually be suffering from migraines. While often called a ‘migraine headache’ it isn’t the same thing. A migraine, which affects about 38 million Americans each year, causes severe pain that is debilitating and often keeps you from normal activities. It is not uncommon to need darkness and quiet when going through one. Stress eating can often contribute to migraines since certain foods tend to be migraine triggers. Here are some things you should know about the link between stress and migraines, particularly when you start to stress eat.
Common Migraine Triggers
Before exploring the link between what you eat while stressed and how that choice can trigger a migraine, it will help to understand the different causes of migraines. You will notice many of these triggers are easily preventable, which will help reduce the frequency or severity of the pain.
Ten common migraine triggers are:
1. Hormonal changes, such as menstrual periods, menopause, and pregnancy
4. Food and food additives
5. Sensory stimuli, such as a bright sun glare or the smell of paint thinner
6. Physical factors like physical exertion
10. Environmental changes
About Stress Eating
Once you realize how many migraine triggers have to do with stress and the food or drinks you consume, we can now talk about stress eating. “Stress eating” is the habit of going for fattening and carbohydrate-driven foods when stressed or anxious. You might go through the Burger King drive-thru after a bad day at work or eat half a batch of chocolate chip cookies worrying about finances. Stress eating will temporarily make you feel like the stress isn’t a concern because eating is a distraction. However, stress eating is a harmful habit that hurts you physically and mentally.
Foods That Can Trigger Migraines
There are also many foods and ingredients that will cause migraines, which is another reason stress eating can lead to these painful encounters. For example, foods that are fried or high in carbohydrates can lead to migraines due to the negative effect they have on your body.
Other foods that often trigger migraines include:
MSG – This is an additive often found in restaurant foods to increase its flavor. Ask the restaurant if they use MSG and look for a NO MSG label on packaged and processed foods.
Caffeine – Caffeine can help avoid migraines, but only if you are used to drinking it. This is due to the response your body goes through during caffeine withdrawal. However, if you drink too much caffeine, it can also lead to migraines.
Beans – Beans may seem like a healthy food, but if you tend to consume navy or kidney beans in your stress eating meals, they might be causing your migraines.
Fruit – Many people are surprised that eating fruit while stress eating can cause migraines. Only some fruits should be avoided by migraine sufferers, including dried fruits and bananas. Dried fruits have sulfites and bananas have tyramine, both of which cause migraines. Tyramine is also found in processed food, so that should be avoided.