Food and Migraine Webinar – The Science Behind Food Triggers

We’re back with another webinar – all thanks to your overwhelming support and enthusiasm! ?

This time, we had the opportunity to learn about Food and Migraine from Isabelle O’Carroll. Isabelle is a certified nutritionist, founder of the Good Days Program, as well as an MBplus Content Writer!

You may have seen Isabelle’s name somewhere before in our communications. That’s because we previously spoke to her for some tips on managing migraine through diet. ?

We held the webinar live on Zoom and the slots for this session were all taken up so quickly that we were pleasantly surprised! You all have such fast fingers!

For those who did not manage to catch it live (we’re sorry for the limited slots!), you can now watch the full session on our YouTube, or keep reading for a summary of the key learning points!



(i) Migraine risks and threshold applies to food as well


The same rationale that was shared in the previous webinar on weather and migraine, applies to food too! Here’s a quick recap below:

  • Sensitive brain receptors trigger migraine symptoms when they get upset. They get upset when they are exposed to too much migraine risk. The risk level that brain receptors can withstand is called the migraine threshold

  • We are exposed to multiple risk factors at once everyday. When the overall risk reaches the threshold, symptoms appear.

  • There are three levels of risk factor sensitivity: high sensitivity, medium sensitivity, and low sensitivity


(ii) You can, and should, stay below your migraine threshold to remain free of symptoms

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This can span from doing nothing to controlling everything:

  • Do nothing: not efficient

  • Control everything: restrictive, difficult to keep up with, overkilling low sensitivity risks 

Ideally, we would want to:

  • Avoid high sensitivity risks

  • Mitigate exposure to medium sensitivity risks

  • Ignore low sensitivity risks


(iii) Ways to identify your sensitivity to risk factors

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Soft test: exposing yourself to risk factors on purpose and observing whether symptoms appear after exposure (does not always give clear answers)

The working solution is to TEST: keep all risks as low as possible and test each individual risk factor.

  • If symptoms appear after each exposure > high sensitivity

  • If symptoms appear after repeated exposure > medium sensitivity

  • If symptoms do not appear after repeated exposure > low sensitivity


(iv) 8 out of the 10 most common risk factors reported in Migraine Buddy can be controlled to avoid reaching the migraine threshold

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  • Difficult to control: weather changes, hormones

  • Controllable lifestyle risk factors: sleep disruption, neck pain, stress and anxiety

  • Controllable food risk factors: dehydration, skipped meals, alcohol, caffeine, processed food


(v) Research on food and migraine showed that we tend to be sensitive to the chemicals in food, rather than the food ingredients themselves


(vi) There are 21 chemicals in food that are migraine risk factors



Chemicals added to food (white)

Chemicals that are components of the food (blue)


(vii) Don’t be fooled by “healthy” food because they can contain risk factors for your migraine

  • Broccoli, Cucumber, Zucchini (Salicylate)

  • Pineapple (Histamine, Salicylate, Tyramine)

  • Tomato (Glycoalkaloid, Histamine, Nitrates, Salicylates, Sulfites, Tyramine)

Healthy foods like the above may be good for weight control, but they’re not beneficial when you want to avoid migraine symptoms.


(viii) It is important to identify your food sensitivities in order to GET CONTROL

  • High sensitivity to food chemical risk factor > avoid intake of any food with this chemical

  • Medium sensitivity > limit your intake to stay below the threshold

  • Low sensitivity > eat as much as you wish since it is not a problem


(ix) Keep all controllable risks to the lowest before testing your sensitivity to each food risk factor


(x) Diets meant for weight-loss (keto, vegetarian, paleo, etc.) are mostly not applicable to control migraine food and lifestyle risk factors 


(xi) Some chemicals in food can be controlled by changing the way you prepare, cook, and store food

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(xii) Learn to recognize safe foods to eat and also get access to delicious recipes in MBplus Actionable Programs

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(xiii) Reach out to Isabelle via the Good Days Program if you would like to try a fully dedicated one-to-one coaching on food and lifestyle factors

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To thank everyone for your continuous support towards our webinars, we would like to offer you a special $20 discount off our MBplus annual subscription as well as 20% off any Good Days Program plan! 

We’d just like you to fill in your feedback for the webinar in this typeform link and you’ll be able to receive the discount codes! ?

If an annual plan sounds like it’s too much commitment at this point, you can also try MBplus free for 7 days! 

Do you have any topics that you wish to see a webinar session on? Feel free to drop us a message on our socials or get in touch with Jenny at! We’ll do our best to deliver the most value to you, the Migraine Buddy community. ?

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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