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Food Diary for Problem Headaches and Migraines: How to Use a Food Diary to Trac


Updated September 30, 2008

Some people find problem headaches or migraines and panic disorder, anxiety and stress go hand-in-hand. Keeping a food diary to track your headache symptoms will help you to identify what foods or substances you may want to avoid or limit.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 15-30 minutes per day

Here's How:

  1. Using a notebook or journal, create a food diary that you can carry with you throughout your day.
  2. Record the time of day and foods eaten in your journal.
  3. Record your stress or anxiety level using a 1 to 10 rating scale, with 1 being really relaxed 10 being, “My anxiety and stress are so high, they’re off the charts.”
  4. Record your symptoms at several intervals throughout the day, using a 1 to 10 rating scale, with 1 being no symptoms and 10 being, “OUCH! -- the worst pain ever.”
  5. If you suspect a specific food trigger, eliminate it for a period of two to four weeks and continue to assess your symptoms. If you doubt the food caused your symptoms, reintroduce it and reassess your symptoms.
  6. Continue this process until you are confident that you have identified the foods, beverages and other substances that may be contributing to your headache and migraine symptoms.
  7. Talk to your doctor about your findings.


  1. Keep in mind that if you develop headache symptoms, they may not be due to the last meal you ate. Sometimes food triggers take several hours or longer to cause symptoms.
  2. If your stress or anxiety level is high and you develop headache symptoms, it may be difficult to correlate whether or not the trigger is dietary or stress related. You may benefit from relaxation techniques if your anxiety or stress level is high.
Related Video
USDA Food Pyramid Explained
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