- When the drunk munchies hit, there are plenty of options that will sound appealing but will end up making you feel worse.
- If you’re going to raid the kitchen or hit the local diner, pick something that will satisfy you now and help minimise hangover symptoms later.
- These are the best late night snacks to help you absorb those cocktails and not feel too horrible tomorrow morning.
We’ve all been there – you’re out with your friends and one drink becomes a handful of drinks, and suddenly it’s the middle of the night and you’re starving.
In fact, even if you had a filling dinner beforehand and stayed adequately hydrated by matching each alcoholic beverage with water, a 2004 study showed that alcohol has a stimulating effect on appetite, leading us to crave high-fat, salty foods, even into the following day.
So if you find yourself at midnight wanting to inhale a cheese pizza or a mountain of French fries, it’s not a surprise why this happens.
But not all drunk foods are made equally, and though it might seem like a good idea to fill your stomach with anything you can get your hands on, some food is better to eat if you want to feel good the next day.
INSIDER spoke with a registered dietitian and an executive chef and they explained their top drunk food options, revealing that you’ll want to keep a solid balance of carbs and protein, avoiding anything too salty, high-fat, or sugary – so those nachos aren’t the best choice, and neither is that pint of ice cream calling to you in the freezer.
Whole-wheat crackers or veggie slices with hummus and/or guacamole can help you stay full.
When you’re three drinks in, you probably don’t want to start whipping up anything too complicated, but plenty of snacks you enjoy during the day are actually great for noshing while tipsy.
“Alcohol interferes with the storage of glycogen, a quick energy source that’s stored in muscles and the liver,” Isabel Maples, MEd, RDN, a Virginia-based registered dietitian nutritionist and volunteer spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics told INSIDER. She added that “carbohydrates like crackers help the body maintain normal blood sugar. Hummus and guacamole pair deliciously with crackers and provide healthy fats that work just as well before drinking, too, to slow down the rate alcohol is absorbed.”
If you have veggie slices or sticks around, they’re equally full of fibre and water, which will hydrate and give you back some of the nutrients depleted by your alcoholic drinks, and make for a satisfying midnight-snack option.
Whole-wheat toast or pita bread can help absorb some of the alcohol.
Similarly, Maples recommended a little bit of whole-wheat toast or pita bread to sop up that alcohol – just be mindful of your toppings. While hummus or avocado are good choices, nut butter, margarine, or regular butter are high in fat and thus difficult to digest. She added, “Dry toast works well after drinking, to replenish energy stores without overwhelming a queasy stomach.”
Plain rice with grilled chicken is a smart choice if you’ve got leftovers.
Depending on how much you’ve had to drink, you’ll probably want to avoid turning on the stove and attempting a “Top Chef”-inspired meal. But if you are looking for something substantial to fill your belly and only leftovers on hand, grilled chicken and rice is a solid choice.
Maples called it “a filling, no-frills way to restore glycogen and maintain blood sugar without a greasy choice. Plus, the protein in chicken help provide the amino acids to start breaking down alcohol,” which will help you feel better and get a solid night’s rest ASAP.
Air-popped microwave popcorn will satisfy salty cravings.
Even if you’re dutifully avoiding the chips, pretzels, or fries, sometimes something salty is the only thing that will hit the spot. Opt for air-popped microwave popcorn – Maples called it a “low-calorie choice that replenishes fuel. It may also offer a little bit of sodium that ensures that the beverages you drink restore hydration instead of just washing through you.”
Plain or low-sugar oatmeal sprinkled with nuts or fruit is nutrient-dense.
This pantry staple is filling and nutrient-dense but won’t sit too heavily in your stomach, since soft foods are easier to digest. “Magnesium, lost with urination, is necessary for regulating muscle, nerves and blood sugar,” which can be depleted after a couple of cocktails, said Maples. “Nuts are a healthy way to get more magnesium, a key nutrient most Americans miss out on,” she adds, making it more satisfying, with fruit helping to add back some of that lost hydration.
It’s also “a perfect morning-after breakfast,” said Alisa Rosa, an executive chef, who recommends topping with roasted nuts (she loves roasted salted almonds). She told INSIDER that “nuts have balanced protein, fat and carbs and will slow down the absorption of the alcohol to keep you having fun and lessen your hangover the next day.”
Cereal with milk is a great choice, depending on the cereal you choose.
If you prefer a cold midnight breakfast, cereal with any type of milk is an equally good option, depending on the type you choose.
Sorry to say it, but your choice of sugar cereal are doing you no nutritional favours. They’re loaded in refined sugar and simple carbs, a no-no when you’ve already consumed tons of empty calories in your cocktails.
Instead, opt for more low-sugar cereal choices, like Cheerios or Special K Protein, said Rosa, and suggested adding “fresh blueberries and choose whole milk to feel better after a great night out.”
Maples agreed, adding, “Cereal is an easy post-drinking snack – or even breakfast the next day – when you’re not feeling overly energetic. Plus, since milk is 90% water but packed with nutrition, you’ll restore key nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and fluid.”
Frozen grapes are refreshing and packed with fibre.
If you have the unending urge for something sweet, opt for frozen grapes, which are a healthy snack at any time of day, but especially when you’ve been imbibing and (probably) not properly hydrating. They’re chock-full of water and fibre, with Maples adding that they’re “cool and refreshing when you need fluids but can’t stomach downing too much fluid.”
Bananas are full of potassium.
When you just need a little snack to hold you over until the morning, a banana is a stellar choice said Rosa, who called it “quite possibly the world’s perfect food.” Not only is it soft and easily digestible, but it’s also full of potassium, an electrolyte that gets depleted when you’re drinking and urinating more frequently than normal, added Maples.
Pancakes or waffles aren’t so bad.
If you’re ending your night at the diner, you might want to get a head start on breakfast, and the good news is, these two diner staples are not the worst choice. Just be mindful of your toppings, said Maples, who told INSIDER that “when you could easily eat a whole day’s worth of calories in one meal, choose a short stack of pancakes instead, to replace carbohydrates. Don’t overdo the syrup, to keep blood sugar fairly constant. Order a glass of milk or orange juice, too, for extra potassium.”
A grilled vegetable panini or a grilled chicken sandwich is a satisfying option.
“A veggie panini or chicken sandwich can fill you up,” said Maples. “That makes some with hangovers feel better, so overactive gastric juices don’t make you [sick]. Plus, animal foods like chicken supply vitamin B12, a vitamin lost with the extra urination that comes from drinking.”
Similarly, if you’re hitting the drive-thru, go for a grilled chicken sandwich, skipping the cheese, heavy sauces, and condiments if you can. Rosa told INSIDER that these are “such great options,” and suggested, “[making] it a grilled veggie with hummus sandwich or a grilled chicken and veggie sandwich to keep your protein, carbs, and fats balanced.”
Clear, broth-based soups like chicken noodle, vegetable, and miso can be easy to digest.
A hearty bowl of soup might sound like a wacky late-night option, but veggie, miso, or chicken noodle soups are easily digestible and will fill you up without making you feel sick. Rosa called them a “superior option if you can find them at 3 a.m.,” adding that it will help with re-hydrating after your night out.
Maples agreed, adding, “The fluid in soup hydrates and the sodium in soup helps the body hold onto those fluids.” But skip creamy soups which can be heavy in salt and fat and might not sit well as you wind down your night.
A slice of veggie pizza will fulfil your craving.
Sometimes the only thing to satisfy those cravings is pizza, and the good news is, there is a way to enjoy it without overloading on grease.
Sticking to a slice or two of veggie pizza will quell those cravings without causing a digestive disaster, said Rosa, suggesting that you skip toppings like sausage and pepperoni, which are simply too “greasy” and difficult to digest post-cocktails. Opting for a veggie slice will help you wake up in the morning feeling much better than if you made that large extra-cheese pie your own personal pizza.
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