You know the drill. You’re at the bar with your friends when someone orders a plate of nachos. In the blink of an eye, the plate is empty, and you’re left feeling stuffed and guilty.
Drinking alcohol is a quick way to pack on the pounds, and not just because of the calories. Drinking makes you more likely to overeat, crave fatty and salty foods, and messes with your eating schedule. Read on to find out why, and get some advice on how to curb those boozy cravings.
DRINKING ALCOHOL MAKES YOU EAT MORE
Why? A study from the U.K. found that men consume up to 30 percent more calories after they’ve been drinking alcohol. Part of this increase is because drinking lowers your inhibitions, making it harder to stop eating. Alcohol also stimulates your appetite, making you want to eat more than normal.
The solution: Walk away from that plate of nachos. Simply taking your eyes off of what you’re craving will help ease the urge. While your pals devour the unwanted calories, distract yourself by finding the cutie you were chatting with earlier, or playing a game of pool.
If you can’t help digging in, try this trick: after you’ve had a few bites, put the food down and pop a piece of gum. Aside from freshening your nacho breath, gum will keep your mouth occupied. It may sound simple, but keeping your mouth busy will keep your mind off food.
WHEN YOU DRINK, YOU WANT JUNK FOOD
Why? It’s no coincidence that you reach for pizza, not salad, when you’ve been drinking. Consuming alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat, making greasy pizza taste even better after a few beers.
The solution: Trick your taste buds. Choose flavorful foods that are low in grease—like popcorn or a handful of pistachios—to satisfy your craving for salt while avoiding junk food.
If you catch yourself dialing for pizza delivery, remember that small tweaks to your order can make a huge difference in your diet. Ordering thin crust instead of deep dish will save you hundreds of unwanted calories. Mixing it up with BBQ chicken instead of sausage cuts fat and is equally delicious. And if you really want to take it to the next level, try replacing meat with vegetables and mushrooms—the extra vitamins won’t hurt either.
LATE NIGHT EATING MESSES UP YOUR BODY’S SCHEDULE
Why? Eating a fourth meal when you get back from the bar racks up your daily calories and knocks your body’s natural eating schedule out of whack. Worse yet, binging right before bed spikes your blood sugar and can disrupt your sleep. And unless your idea of sleepwalking involves walking a marathon, there’s no way you’ll be able to burn those extra calories before sunrise.
The solution: Eat a hearty meal before you go out to the bars. This will help you feel full until you hit the sack. If you still get cravings, replace the greasy burger or pizza with a high fiber alternative like a bowl of cereal.
- If you have the munchies and want to stay healthy, choose from the American Heart Association’s list of healthy snack options.
- Learn more about alcohol and your health.