Avoid the Drunchies At Your Next Party. Here’s How.

Premier Health Now

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It’s a party phenomenon. You overindulge on alcohol. Then you overindulge on junk food. Researchers call it the drunchies: drunk + munchies. There’s a reason for it. Premier Health Now asked Meredith Jones RD, LD, a clinical dietitian at Miami Valley Hospital, to explain.

Blame it on your hormones, she says. They get a little wonky when you’re drunk, making it much harder to walk away from the double cheese pizza on the snack table. 

First, there’s cortisol. “Alcohol can spike your cortisol hormone, causing you to crave calorie-dense foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt,” says Jones. Think tacos, burgers, fries. Not eggplant, kale, edamame. 

Then there’s ghrelin and leptin. “When working properly, ghrelin tells your body it’s hungry, and leptin tells your body it’s full,” Jones explains. But alcohol confuses the signals, causing you to eat when you’re not hungry, and to keep eating even after you’re full. 

Worse, “alcohol pushes your dopamine button,” says Jones. That’s the happy hormone that encourages you to do more of what makes you feel good. “When you’ve overindulged, you find fatty, sugary, salty foods are pleasurable, and so your dopamine encourages you to eat more of it.” Unfortunately, it’s not calling you to have a nice bowl of veggie soup.    

Steps To Avoid the Drunchies

Jones suggests drinking a big glass of water between every alcoholic drink. It will slow the absorption of alcohol in your system and also keep you from getting dehydrated. Sometimes your body mistakes the thirst of dehydration for hunger,” she says. “This can cause you to eat when you really just need water.” 

Eat a healthy meal before the party. Jones says that whole grains, veggies, and lean proteins will keep you full, making it less likely you’ll reach for the bacon-wrapped cocktail weenies or the cheesy sausage dip. “You may think it’s wise to skip dinner in order to save calories,” says Jones. “But then you drink alcohol; your hormones act up, which causes you to lose your willpower; and you end up consuming more calories instead, especially unhealthy ones.” 

Limit your alcohol consumption, following guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Meredith Jones, RDN, LD