7 Pre-Happy Hour Foods That Prevent Hangovers
By Dana Leigh Smith
You went out, you got drunk and now you wish you could spend all day in bed.
No, it’s not because you brought home a hot hookup from the bar last night, it’s because you feel like you're about to die from the world’s worst hangover.
If only you could go back and do things a bit differently, maybe you wouldn’t have skipped dinner before hitting up happy hour. Eating something before an all-night drinking marathon can keep awful hangovers at bay, right? Well, sort of. While having something in your stomach is better than nothing—food slows the body’s absorption of alcohol—not all foods can ward off a head-pounding hangover. Lucky for you, we know which ones will. Although eating the foods below won’t ensure you’ll stay out of trouble while you're wasted, they can decrease the odds you’ll need to spend the next day clinging to a Gatorade and a trash can.
While pre-gaming your night out with a glass of milk may seem a little odd, when you’re feeling wide-eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow morning, you’ll be glad you did. Why milk? “Because of its protein and fat content, the beverage—and other foods rich in those nutrients—line the stomach and slow the absorption of alcohol, which prevents a hangover the following morning,” explains Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDN a New York City-based Registered Dietitian.
Shocking but true: Munching on pickles and other salty snacks—olives also make the cut—can actually ward off hangovers. These snacks replenish the body with an important hangover-fighting electrolyte: sodium. Think of them as edible Gatorade; sodium is the same reason the drink is touted as such a great hangover helper. “If your body doesn’t have adequate sodium levels, it’s common to experience headache, fatigue or even vomiting,” explains Kaufman. Yikes! Most bars have olives on hand for their martinis, so if you forgot to eat something before heading out, tip the bartender and ask him to hand over a cup of them. Trust us, it will be money well spent!
North American natives claimed that eating almonds could protect the body against intoxication and prevent hangovers—and modern-day experts concur. Thanks to their healthy fats and protein, nuts like almonds and walnuts can slow the the absorption of alcohol and keep those nasty next-morning symptoms at bay, says Kaufman. Grab a handful before you hit the bars; the ones they set out at the bar usually have added oils. In a pinch? Go ahead and munch at the bar. The salt will double your hangover-prevention efforts.
Adding asparagus to your dinner plate before a night out on the town can help prevent a next-day hangover, say a group of Korean researchers. The green stalk’s protective powers come from special amino acids in the veggie that help the body break down alcohol. Oh, and be sure to save some leftovers spears for the next morning, too—just in case. Asparagus has also been found to tame hangovers. Chop some up and throw them in an omelet if you’re not feeling 100 percent.
Tonight is your best friend’s birthday, so you know you’ll be pounding shots all night long. The only trouble is, tomorrow morning is your mom’s birthday brunch and she’ll be totally pissed if you show up hungover. Your solution? Eat a big salad made from spinach before hitting the town. According to Kaufman, the leafy greens are loaded with folic acid, sulphur and vitamin C—all nutrients that help ward off hangover symptoms. Plus, spinach is rich in fiber, which helps keep you fuller longer. Why’s that relevant? When you’re full, you’re less apt to drink a ton.
Before placing an order for your first beer, ask your waiter for a big juicy burger. The combination of fat and protein from the meat will ensure the alcohol doesn’t hit you too hard and ward off tomorrow’s nasty hangover. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to eat a burger? To keep calories in check, ask for a side salad instead of fries and eat the burger open-faced style—without the top bun. Since you have plans to have a throw back a few drinks, it pays to save a few calories where you can.
As your vital organs go into overdrive to flush out last night’s alcohol and balance its fluid levels, it needs all the immune support it can get—and vitamin C is just the nutrient for the job, says Kaufman. Before your night of boozing, snack on some cauliflower; the veggie is loaded with the nutrient. Plus, it pairs well with hummus, a healthy fat that will slow the rate at which your body absorbs your cocktails, keeping splitting headaches, fatigue and nausea at bay tomorrow morning.