It’s spring quarter, which means a few things to us noble undergraduate students: One, the weather now ranges from pleasant to Siberia-esque. Two, the side doors in the dorms have all been locked, causing my favorite song (“Blaring Alarm in E Minor”) to be played at all hours of the day and night. Three, by now almost every student has become acquainted with their trash can on a Friday night or Saturday morning.
Ah, the inevitable hangover. Hair held back, dry-heaving, praying for the end, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel only to realize it’s your watch reflecting in the bottom of the trash can.
When you get sick from drinking, there’s little more you can do than curl up in the fetal position and wait it out. But your hangover menu — what you eat before, during and after drinking — can make your Saturday morning slightly less miserable.
Pregaming with Carbs
Considering that the average party starts after ten, most students have shoveled in two or three of Hinman’s finest meals before going out to throw it up.
“Before drinking, you want to eat a lot of carbohydrates: breads, grains, the bottom of the food chain,” Weinberg sophomore Brook Bulcha said. “It soaks up all the alcohol, so you can drink more and have a good time without getting really sick.”
Bulcha recommends Panera Bread as the best option before a night of drinking.
Some students would rather risk a violent hangover than spend those precious WildCard points at the C-Store. Medill freshman Ashley Kahn and Communication freshman Kayleigh Wettstein said they don’t usually eat before they go out.
“It saves money,” Wettstein said.
A 1994 study by Swedish researchers showed that eating before drinking slows your rate of intoxication and lowers your blood alcohol content (BAC) 30 percent.
According to an interview with Dr. Harris B. Stratyner, an addiction specialist and associate professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Center, some alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood stream when you start to drink. Proteins, fats and dense carbohydrates slow down the absorption process.
Bottom line: Eat before you drink, and make sure what you eat is substantial, “real” food.
Shockingly enough, Northwestern students have a penchant for consuming alcohol at parties. No matter the poison of choice — and anyone who says Jungle Juice isn’t a poison has never left his or her Slivka cell — there are a few strategies effective in the good fight against the hangover.
“If you’re binge drinking, you just focus on drinking,” Bulcha said. “If you are socially drinking, you should eat salty foods like chocolate-covered pretzels.”
“I go for pigs in a blanket,” said Medill sophomore Dave Orlansky, who apparently goes to parties classier than “CEOs and Corporate Hos.”
Eating while drinking has the same effect as eating before a night of inebriation. It slows down your rate of alcohol consumption and lowers your BAC — basically, it takes you longer to get drunk and less likely to vomit all over your roommate. Chips and pretzels are a good bet and are often readily available.
When you’re mixing drinks, keep in mind that certain chasers can actually make you drunker. According to Dr. Stratyner, carbonated mixers (read: Coke) speed up the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Warm drinks have the same effect (is that why warm beer tastes worse than… never mind, no comparison). Also, my friends swear that power drinks like Gatorade will make you, well, powerfully drunk. Save them for the gym if you don’t want to puke up all those electrolytes.
“Everyone goes to Burger King, but that was so fall quarter,” Wettstein said. “No one does that anymore because it’s cold. It’s open 24/7 and it’s near the South Campus dorms, but that was before [the side doors were locked]. Now the alarms just go off.”
The Postgame: Helpless, Hungry, and Hungover
This is the fun part of the “game” in that you get to see all the food you ingested one more time. Granted, it’s a little more ground up and has a bit more stomach acid on it than you may have remembered, but it’s still that great Panera sandwich you enjoyed so much earlier. Hello, dear friend.
“To cure a hangover, the key thing is to drink a lot of water,” Bulcha said.
“Once you’re done with the sick phase, it’s good to eat a lot of greasy food… maybe some Chipotle to fill you up,” Bulcha said. “It tastes much better when you’re hung over and you don’t feel too bad because you’re still drunk or you don’t care.”
On the female side of the trash can, Ashley Kahn went with “substance food” when she was feeling nauseated. “I’m big on scrambled eggs. You don’t want to sit there and eat fruit — it’s not what you crave.”
She and Wettstein agreed that dairy should be avoided.
“You don’t want to be drinking anything with milk in it,” Wettstein said.
The general consensus was to drink water and take it slow, on a case by case basis.
“Your body will tell you what you need,” Communication sophomore Brendon Boutin said. “Sometimes you need food, sometimes you need… non-food.”
So when you wake up and your esophagus is inflamed into a nice case of alcohol gastritis (oh hey, second week of freshman year), just remember: You may have failed AlcoholEdu, but there’s always a second chance to at least eat responsibly.