Warning: Leftovers may Trigger Migraine Attacks

Yes, those leftovers lurking in your fridge may be migraine triggers.  The fact is, good food – healthy food – may change in subtle ways while it waits to be noticed.  A friend may turn into an enemy.

BEWARE of leftovers!

For example, tyramine (a potential migraine trigger) is a compound in foods that increases as food ages.  And it doesn’t have to age very long.  After 24-48 hours, it’s wise to avoid refrigerated leftovers – yes, even if they’re not “bad”.  This especially includes high-protein foods.

But that’s not all.  If foods are just a little “off”, that could cause stomach problems – which could in turn trigger headaches.

So what should you do?  Here are some quick tips:


Eat all perishable foods within 24-48 hours of purchase.  No, cooking does not remove tyramines.

Be especially cautious of…

Meats that have been in the fridge for more than 48 hours.  If you’re not going to eat them that soon, freeze them.  Fresh meats or pre-stuffed meats should be cooked within 24 hours of purchase.

Some foods, like cheeses and lunch meats, are designed to last longer.  However, they tend to trigger migraine attacks to begin with.  Be wary of anything that is aged.

Be sure food gets back in the fridge as soon as possible – don’t leave it on the counter.  It may look fine, and smell fine – but bacteria is growing.

Make sure the temperature of your fridge is below 40°F/4.5°C.  If food gets above this temperature for 2 hours or more (for example, due to a power outage), don’t eat it (even if it looks fine).  Taking something home from the restaurant?  If it isn’t in your fridge within two hours, forget it.

More tips

Yes, you can put hot food in the fridge.  Another option is to quickly cool the food in ice water.  Use small/shallow containers so that the food cools as soon as possible.

Don’t pack your fridge completely full – there needs to be room for cool air to circulate.

Clean out your fridge regularly.

Invest in a freezer, and use it often.  Freeze leftovers right away in small portions, and thaw them when you’re ready to enjoy them.

Enjoy your leftovers!  But remember, the fresher the better – especially for a migraineur.  Easy post-holiday meals can quickly become a nightmare.

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