I started drinking alcohol when I left home for college. I made friends quickly, and I was soon introduced to the mayhem of college parties. We would get together every Friday night and hit the town, going from pub to pub drinking as much as our bodies could take. Usually, this would result in waking with either an awful hangover or still too drunk to get through a day’s work.
I soon realised I wasn’t cut out for it. I would get drunk very fast, and the next morning I would have a hellish hangover that would take hours to dissipate. The only thing worse than the hangover was my friends teasing me for being a lightweight. However, a friend gave me some advice: eat right and you’ll never feel too drunk at night or feel hungover in the morning.
Each Friday before the festivities began, we would buy pizza with extra cheese and gorge ourselves. True to his word, it took me a lot longer to get drunk, and morning-afters weren’t nearly as bad as before.
It worked, but over time I realised that it was at the expense of my waistline. I was stuffing myself with lots of unhealthy foods at least once a week and it was beginning to show. It forced me to look for healthier options.
Why should you eat before you drink?
If you’ve had a drink on an empty stomach you know the feeling; before long you start to feel quite drunk, crave all sorts of greasy foods, and the cravings don’t go away the more you drink. In fact, they get worse. That’s why Saturday nights out usually end with a visit to the fast food joint.
Research suggests there are two reasons for this: the first is that alcohol causes a drop in your blood sugar levels which causes a craving for carbohydrates. The other reason is that alcohol makes your brain extra-sensitive to external cues. Food aromas become more intense and before you know it you are snacking on cheesy fries or nachos.
It’s for these two reasons that so many pubs offer greasy snacks to their patrons. They know that after a few drinks they will not be able to resist whatever’s on offer, whether it’s chicken wings, cheese burgers, fries or onion rings.
While you may be able to get away with eating tons of junk food in your late teens and early twenties, over time the effects will become apparent. Healthier food choices become more important as you grow older. Especially as your metabolism slips away form you!
You don’t have to eat greasy foods before you drink alcohol. There are plenty of healthy options that will line your stomach well enough to stave off a blurry evening. It may take some trial and error to find which ones work best for you, but in the end you will consume fewer calories and stay healthier.
Guidelines for making healthier food choices when ordering out
- Eat foods that have natural and healthy fats. When you drink on an empty stomach, alcohol seeps through the walls of your gut faster. Foods that contain healthy fats provide a layer of protection; rather than flood your system, alcohol slowly seeps into your bloodstream over time and you stay sober for longer.
- If you know that you will go out drinking, eat a full lunch with natural, healthy proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins. It may slow you down in the afternoon but it will regulate your blood sugar levels by the time you get to the pub.
- If you will be getting your pre-barhopping meal from a take-away shop choose something healthy. There are healthy options in fast-food joints if you take the time to study the menu properly. While a doner kebab is a definite no-no (processed meats, too much salt), a chicken kebab is quite the opposite. Shish kebabs aren’t a bad option either.
- If you can, sit for a proper meal before you head out. As you make plans to go out drinking, precede them with a plan to eat a proper meal in a restaurant. A good curry with rice or naan and salad, followed by a healthy dessert will keep the cravings away while you drink.
- Avoid caffeine before you drink alcohol. Coffee will make you feel dehydrated faster and you may end up drinking more than you planned to.
- Fish is an excellent option for those who can survive on something light. Steamed or grilled salmon is a good choice before you head out to the pub.
- You may be tempted to eat before you get into bed but that often makes for an uncomfortable night, and it doesn’t necessarily eliminate a hangover. Instead, pop a multivitamin pill to counter the effects of the alcohol. Drink a full glass of water with a pinch of salt to replace your salt levels.
Some Foods You Might Prepare At Home
If you have the time, it’s a smart idea to prepare something at home; you know exactly what you’re eating and you can cook it however you like. Here are some of my favourites:
Avocado toast – anyone can make avocado toast. All you need is a ripe avocado and some bread. If you want something more substantial you can add a poached or boiled egg and a little cheese. Flavour it to your liking with whatever spices you have in your kitchen.
Curry and rice – this is one of my favourite things to eat before I drink alcohol. I’ve found that a chicken curry is best; its quick and doesn’t require a lot of expertise. You can have it with rice or naans and your favourite salad.
Yoghurt and nuts – both these foods contain healthy, natural fats and they are filling. I make sure they are available in my kitchen at all times as I find that they make an excellent snack before and after I drink alcohol.
Homemade cheese burgers – these require patience and some expertise, but the upside is that you are sure of each and every ingredient.
Drinking on an empty stomach is a terrible idea. Not only will you get drunk faster, you will have a terrible hangover. You should always eat before consuming alcohol. While greasy snacks may be more convenient, there are healthier options that you can order at the fast food shop or prepare at home.