Allergies or sensitivity to substances in our environment can cause muscle contraction or vascular headaches. Known allergens and sensitizers run the gamut from nicotine in tobacco to everyday foods and food additives. Some common foods that have been linked to headaches include cheese (except cottage cheese), chocolate, citrus, onions, eggplant, bay leaf, chili and cinnamon, and foods that are fried, fatty, pickled or processed. Coloring agents or flavor enhancers that can provoke tension or vascular headaches can be found in salami, hot dogs, bacon, ham, dairy products, beer and wine. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), the flavor enhancer sometimes used in Chinese food, can provoke headaches. Caffeine in coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and chocolate can lead to headaches if you consume an excessive amount or if you abruptly stop using it. Alcohol in wine, champagne, beer and hard liquor also can trigger headaches.
What to do
Carefully monitor your diet to pinpoint the exact foods that may cause your headaches. Even if a reaction may not show up for hours or days, it is possible to recognize patterns in the occurrence of your headaches. If you believe certain foods are causing a headache, eliminate them and monitor your headaches.