Did you know that the foods you eat might be causing your migraines and headaches? Blood sugar spikes could cause one main reason for regular headaches, and by regulating your blood sugar levels, you can avoid blood-sugar related headaches and feel better overall.

When we eat foods that are high in sugar (especially simple sugars), our pancreas secretes an important blood sugar-regulating hormone known as insulin. However, if the body is insulin resistant and cannot respond to blood sugar levels appropriately, the pancreas secretes too much insulin. This can leave you feeling exhausted, so the body secretes adrenaline hormones to give you a bit more energy.

These hormones have many effects on the body that are responsible for that surge of energy — including constricting blood vessels. Because the blood vessels in the brain are dilating, they push against nerves, which is extremely painful and gives you a stubborn headache. Thus, by regulating your blood sugar levels, you can also work to limit headaches.

1. Eat smaller meals more frequently

You want to focus on regulating your blood sugar levels, meaning you don’t want any sudden spikes or drops. The best way to do this is to eat regularly, having smaller meals and snacks so that your caloric intake isn’t too high.

2. Have a protein-centered breakfast instead of carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are usually the main component of breakfasts, but they also lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. Try to replace your carbohydrates with a protein-rich breakfast instead. You don’t have to eliminate carbohydrates; make sure that your breakfast contains enough protein as well.

3. Keep a ‘headache’ log

Keep track of what you eat daily and when you’re getting your headaches. For example, if you notice that you get headaches shortly after eating bread, try to eliminate it and see if it improves your headaches. Not everyone has the same “trigger foods,” so it’s crucial that you find yours.

4. Eat as soon as you wake up

You don’t want to go too long without eating, especially in the morning when you’ve been fasting all night. Try to eat shortly after you wake up so that you avoid a substantial drop in blood sugar levels, and make sure that your breakfast contains lots of protein, healthy fats, and fewer carbohydrates.

5. Eliminate added sugars

Although not everyone has the same trigger foods, artificial sugars and sweets are almost guaranteed to be giving you headaches. These foods cause an immediate spike in blood sugar levels and offer absolutely no nutrients. Aside from the apparent candies, sodas, and cakes, many store-bought foods contain added sugars that you wouldn’t expect. Read the ingredient labels of sauces, bread, or fruit juices— you will often see sugar as a sneaky ingredient.

For me, this is a huge part of intuitive eating, learning how to recognize the daily actions I’m taking are connected to my health. Every day I grow in awareness about how foods and stress affect my body.

Have you found that certain foods give you headaches?