The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen – Shopping Organically for Migraineurs

Have you heard of The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen?

The food you eat has an extraordinary impact on your mind and body. For migraineurs, a diet with fewer pesticide-ridden foods can help reduce the severity and frequency of migraine symptoms.

Your body needs certain essential minerals and vitamins, but many don’t contain the same nutrient value they did 50 years ago.  Nutrient deficiencies often show up in the form of hunger pangs, migraines, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and dehydration.

Having a healthy diet means you eat foods that are the best choice for your health. Typically, this means eating foods that are organic, not genetically modified, and low in complex sugars.

Organic produce is the healthiest food for everyone, especially migraineurs and those who suffer with any health condition. Organic usually means foods haven’t been genetically modified or treated with pesticides; none-the-less, you should always check the labels.

A Migraineurs Shopping List

When shopping for produce, you want to avoid items with pesticides. Remember, pesticides are designed to poison and kill pests, so it isn’t too hard to imagine what they can do to humans after years of consumption. Pesticides are linked to cancer and brain-damage, and pesticide-ridden foods are often a major trigger.

The Dirty Dozen is a list of foods with relatively high numbers of pesticides or pesticide residue found on them. That means you should only be eating the organic version of these foods and, if possible, purchasing from local farms.

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberries (non-organic samples had a minimum of 22 pesticides!)
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Grapes
  6. Peaches
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Celery
  11. Potatoes
  12. Sweet Bell Peppers


The Clean Fifteen list is produce with four pesticides or fewer detected on them.

The Clean Fifteen:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbages
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangoes
  10. Eggplants
  11. Honeydew Melons
  12. Kiwis
  13. Cantaloupes
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli


Genetic Modification

Another thing to look out for when shopping is anything made with genetically-modified seeds. Organic usually means non-GMO, but check the packaging for the Non-GMO Project seal before purchasing.

Always shop organic everything when you can; however, if you can’t, these lists can help you figure out what’s safe to eat and what’s not.

Dealing with Cravings for Unhealthy Food

After a migraine, many people feel cravings for foods high in sugar or salt, which often come on after a migraine because the adrenal glands want to get a quick burst of energy. However, this is by no means good for you! I know the cake looks like a perfect slice of heaven, but stick to the migraine-healthy foods, and keep the above lists close-by to satisfy that craving.

Whatever you do, don’t fall for it.  Eating bad food after the attack passes will increase the stress on your mind and body, which never ends with a positive result. Go for healthy alternatives instead.  It’s worth it.

While you’re out shopping or at a restaurant, keep the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists handy.  If you can’t shop everything organic, at least make sure the items on the dirty dozen list are organic.  Above all, fight the cravings that come on after migraines.  Use a healthy, organic option instead.



Dirty Dozen

Clean Fifteen

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