Let’s look at the migraine elimination diet, foods to eliminate, and why. Diet change is the first step to treating migraines, as food is a major trigger.

We already know that food and drinks can trigger a migraine, and the best way to alleviate some of those symptoms is to modify your diet by removing those well-known problem foods.  Some people take supplements on their doctor’s orders to try to avoid this debilitating pain as well; however, what many migraineurs are experiencing is worsened pain and further confusion.

Why is nothing working?

It may be because of the types of food and drink you are taking in.

There is no appeal to changing your diet, but suffering a few weeks of bland healthy food is worth the hassle when you consider the benefits.

Essentially, the migraine elimination diet means that you focus on removing the foods that we know trigger migraines and eating more pain-safe foods.  We will review pain-safe foods in Part 2 of this series.

How to Start the Migraine Elimination Diet

Seem a little overwhelming? That’s okay.  I have put together a systematic list of how you can start the migraine elimination diet, with very little interruption to your day and, hopefully, even less disturbance to your patience levels.

  1. Find your motivation. You have to be ready to make the change, and motivating yourself is the first step. Do you want to make it to the camping trip this year without a migraine?  Do you want to go to your kid’s graduation without worrying about that telltale sign of an aura in the middle of the ceremony?  Start in your mind.
  2. Showcase your motivation. Use a cork board, whiteboard, chalkboard, email, phone alerts, post-it, or send a telegram to yourself. Put up pictures or affirmations to remind yourself of why you are doing this diet.
  3. Get support. Talk to a friend or loved one about your plan. They may want to do it with you!
  4. Talk to your doctor. They may want to track your lab values throughout the diet.
  5. Make a list of foods you can and will eat.
  6. Print out your list of good and bad foods and keep with you at all times.
  7. Prepare yourself for at least 30 days of no eating out.
  8. Buy a journal or start one. You will need to track date, symptoms, foods eaten that day, and how you’re feeling.  We will review this more in Part 3 of this series.

Duration of Elimination Diet

Start with a 33-day test. Why 33 and not 30?  Because you are doing things in 3-day bursts and there are five trigger food categories.  You can choose which category to introduce in each of those sections.

  • Days 1-3: Stop eating foods in the categories under the Foods to Eliminate section below
  • Days 4-6: Introduce one of the groups of foods you took away, i.e., dairy
  • Days 7-9: Take out that group again; track symptoms and feelings on all days
  • Days 10-12: Introduce the next group of foods you took away, i.e., gluten
  • Days 13-15: Take out that group again; track symptoms and feelings on all days
  • Days 16-18: Introduce the next group of foods, i.e., corn
  • Days 19-21: Take out that group again; track symptoms and feelings on all days
  • Days 22-24: Introduce the next group of foods, i.e., soy
  • Days 25-27: Take out that group again and track symptoms and feelings on all days
  • Days 28-30: Introduce the next group of foods, i.e., tyramine and histamine
  • Days 31-33: Take out that group again; track symptoms and feelings on all days

Don’t go overboard when introducing the trigger foods back into your diet for testing.  Limit yourself to no more than 2-3 servings of that food group on the days listed above.

Foods to Eliminate

Here are the groups of foods to eliminate:

  • Corn, including corn meal, corn starch, and corn syrup
  • Soy
  • Gluten, including anything with wheat, white flour, barley, rye, oats, etc.
  • Dairy including milk, butter, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese
  • Tyramine and histamine foods (will be discussed in more detail in Part 2)

For more information on food lists, see the Sources section below. I also have a more detailed list in Part 2 of this series.

Migraines can take over your life, but it is up to you to make the changes necessary to relieve or reduce your symptoms. Since they are unique to you, it is imperative that you recognize how important it is to take treatment into your own hands, with the help of your providers. The migraine elimination diet may seem like a daunting task, but eliminating trigger foods and giving your body time to respond to their removal and re-introduction will go a long way to helping you figure out which foods are playing a part in your migraine attacks.


  1. www.migraine.com/blog/nutrition-intervention-migraines-new-study-indicates-elimination-diet-may-work/
  2. Safe and Danger Food List: www.migraine.com/blog/elimination-diet-foods-to-eat-foods-to-avoid/
  3. www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/a-natural-approach-to-migraines
  4. Tyramine and Histamine foods: www.healthyeating.sfgate.com/foods-histamines-tyramines-1208.html


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