Because tequila will try to convince you that onion rings are a food group.
1. So, you’re going to be drinking tonight. Time to plan your meals accordingly.
Because when drunk you is left to your own devices, you’ll inhale mozzarella sticks with a side of pizza every single time. That said, you shouldn’t just have an itty bitty side salad when you go out drinking either, because booze on an empty (or nearly empty) stomach can lead you to be drunker and sicker.
Physically having food in your stomach will slow the absorption of alcohol, meaning your blood alcohol level won’t go up as high, Rosalind Breslow, Ph.D, R.D., of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), tells BuzzFeed Life. So before your next alcoholic outing, take note of the following ground rules:
2. First, don’t forget to eat dinner. Like, actual dinner.
It’s really easy to accidentally skip this part when you go straight to happy hour after work or you go to a party that you think will have food (and they don’t). Repeat after us: Eating passed hors d’oeuvres is not dinner. Nibbling from a charcuterie plate is not dinner. And ordering extra olives in your martini is definitely not dinner.
3. A GOOD pre-drinking dinner will have whole grains, protein, produce, and healthy fat. Like a burrito bowl.
Black beans, brown rice, avocado, and veggies? YUP.
4. Or seafood, rice, and veggies.
This kind of combo will fill you up, keep blood sugar stable, and help set a healthy(ish) tone for the rest of the night, Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., author of The Flexitarian Diet, tells BuzzFeed Life.
5. While you’re out, snack on something salty or spicy then chase it down with water.
The goal is to trick yourself into drinking tons of water throughout the night, because you’ll feel so much better if you’re well hydrated, says Blatner. Complimentary bar popcorn and mixed nuts, FTW.
6. Oops, you’re drunk. Now you’re allowed to have mozzarella sticks, right?
I mean, you could, and they would probably be delicious. But there are definitely other options that will also be great and have nutrients that will make you feel better, less hungover, and altogether healthier. Also, you’re drunk, so basically all food is impressive at this point.
7. If at all humanly possible, miso soup might just save your life.
“In a perfect world, I would tell all people to have miso soup after a night of drinking,” says Blatner. It’s got a ton of water to help rehydrate your drunken body, it’s light enough that it won’t take a long time to digest (because you plan to pass out five minutes after eating), plus it has protein and good bacteria, which might ward off any annoying digestive issues after a night of drinking (oh, hello, beer shits).
So if by some small miracle you find a 24-hour Japanese restaurant on your way home, go sober up with some soup. Extra points if you can eat some pickled ginger to settle your stomach.
8. Or just go for the ~realest food~ on the 7-page diner menu — preferably a protein-rich, light meal.
Grilled chicken, a turkey sandwich on wheat bread, a Caesar salad, etc. These aren’t necessarily nutritional home runs, but they’re definitely going to do more for you than a slice of pizza or a pint of fro-yo. “You want real food as opposed to sugary stuff,” says Blatner. “And pretty much anything that’s healthy when you’re not drinking would be a good choice after drinking.”
Plus anything with lean protein is going to be beneficial. Alcohol can have a ricochet effect on your blood sugar, but protein can help stabilize that and keep you from feeling nauseous, says Blatner. And a ~light meal~ is key, since anything heavy will disrupt your sleep.
9. If you absolutely need something greasy in your mouth, French fries aren’t a completely heinous option.
“They’re a super junkie food, but they could potentially make you feel better,” says Blatner. That’s because potatoes have potassium and sodium, both of which are electrolytes that help balance the fluids in your body (something you desperately need after a night of drinking). Also, they’ll stimulate thirst so you’re forced to drink even more water.
BUT if your stomach is upset and/or you’re prone to heartburn, stay far away from fried foods. High-fat foods and fried stuff will sit in your stomach longer, and that — mixed with alcohol — can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, producing heartburn and acid reflux, says Breslow.
10. You’re so close to your bed you can feel it. But first, coconut water.
Obviously you should be alternating alcohol and water throughout the night, but if you forgot to properly hydrate, have some coconut water before bed, ideally with a pinch of salt, says Blatner. The potassium and sodium will help you rehydrate, plus it might taste better than plain water, which will encourage you to actually drink it and not just put it on your nightstand and forget about it.
11. So… brunch? Yes. Brunch.
Hungover people of the world: This is your lightning round. We know your brain hurts and making decisions is hard, so we’ll make the most important one for you: When it comes to sweet or savory brunch fare, definitely go with savory.
Here’s why: Getting drunk leaves you in a low blood sugar state the morning after, so inhaling French toast or pancakes with orange juice would give you a temporary sugar spike — followed by a soul-crushing dip later in the day. Instead, order something like eggs with veggies and breakfast potatoes (yay carbs + good-for-you potassium). Eggs have protein to help stabilize your blood sugar and amino acids which some research says may help the alcohol detox process happen faster, says Blatner. Also, they’re delicious.
Wash it all down with tons of water and some coffee or tea if you need caffeine. The majority of those hangover symptoms come from dehydration, so fluids are key. But, obviously, do not add on the unlimited mimosa option. Even straight juice has so much sugar it could leave you feeling worse. If you’re really craving it, make a DIY sports drink with half orange juice, half water, and a pinch of salt, says Blatner.
13. Not feeling 100% yet? That’s probably because you drank an actual shit ton last night.
Even if you followed all of our advice up until this point, your hangover is likely still as big as last night’s bar tab. That’s because too much alcohol is going to seriously tax your system — no matter how much lean protein you pair it with. Your hangover is basically a mini withdrawal syndrome, complete with pain, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, all that good stuff. Oh, and you’re not imagining it, hangovers do get worse with age.
Really, the only way to avoid feeling this shitty is to reduce the overall amount of alcohol you’re drinking. Worth noting: the NIAAA recommends that men have no more than 4 drinks and women have no more than 3 drinks on any given day. But if you are going to indulge, at least try to remember the suggested meal plan above. Or don’t. Drunk you will probably just do whatever it wants anyway.