What are strategies for preventing a migraine when I go to parties?

At parties and holiday meals, the food and drink is in abundance, and you look forward to it every year. Different foods and drinks may trigger headaches in different people, and it may take time for you to figure out if you have food and drink triggers, and what they are. The amount of food you eat may also play a role. And what about those smells? People coming to the party are dressed to impress, but too often are scented to the max. Scented candles and other holiday decorations and smoke may also be present, lingering in the air, awaiting your arrival.

With planning, you can reduce the likelihood of triggering a migraine. Firstly, don’t skip meals earlier in the day in anticipation of a large holiday meal. Skipping meals may in and of itself trigger a migraine. Avoid your food and drink triggers entirely, if possible. If you don’t know what they are, try to stay away from cured meats and aged cheeses (skip the pepperoni and cheese plate), hot dogs (pigs in blankets), pizza, highly spiced foods, deli meats, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Opt for white wine or light-colored liquor over red wine and darker liquors. Or no liquor at all. Try to stick to the most natural and unprepared foods, veggies, fruit, simple grilled meats, and breads. Eat chocolate and other sugary things in moderation.

As for the smells, if you’re close enough to the hostess, you can contact her ahead and talk with her about your problem; maybe she can limit the scented candles. Let your friends know ahead of time that perfumes and colognes may set off your migraines, and ask if they can refrain for this event.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.