The Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before a Night of Drinking

What you eat now can make all the difference in how you feel later.

Close up of salted pretzels
Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

There's no question booze can do a number on your body, especially when you throw back a few too many (hello, awkward holiday happy hour!)—from bloating and brain fog to the all-out misery of a head-pounding hangover.

But by taking a few precautions before the alcohol starts to flow, you can help minimize the damage, experts say. Here's what to eat (and what to skip) to prep your body for a big night out.

01 of 07

Best: Fruits

Fruits might be especially important if you're planning to indulge in adult beverages. That's because these nutritious eats are a great way to stay hydrated.

Alcohol has the capacity to make you dehydrated, in part by increasing your need to urinate—which means you'll be losing more fluids.

Therefore, take advantage of the chance to graze on some fruit: Strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, and even starfruit are some of the most hydrating picks.

02 of 07

Best: Vegetables

Vegetables could be another food option to eat before drinking alcohol. Like fruit, vegetables can help keep you hydrated, as water makes up at least 90% of most fruit and vegetable contents.

Thus, some vegetables that you might want to consider eating include:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Broccoli or cauliflower
  • Radishes
  • Green peppers
  • Spinach
03 of 07

Best: Water

Water is another great choice to drink if you plan on drinking alcohol: Drinking water before drinking alcohol may help you feel less thirsty. You may also be able to cut back on the amount of alcohol you consume by drinking water.

You'll just want to make sure you drink enough water beforehand. And what is considered an appropriate amount of water intake for individuals will vary based on factors, such as age or sex as well as pregnancy and breastfeeding statuses.

04 of 07

Worst: Acidic or Spicy Foods

If you want to avoid experiencing a lot of acid reflux after drinking alcohol, leave acid or spicy foods for another day.

Alcohol has been associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), as it can decrease pressure in the lower esophagus and affect digestive tract muscle movement. These effects from alcohol can contribute to instances of heartburn—and acidic and spicy foods could make heartburn worse.

Examples of reflux-inducing foods to avoid include fried or fast food, pizza, and chili powder or peppers as well as carbonated beverages, chocolate, or tomato-based sauces.

05 of 07

Worst: Caffeine

Need to make an appearance at a boozy gathering, but feeling totally wiped? You may be tempted to reach for a caffeinated pick-me-up like chocolate, coffee, or tea. But caffeine and alcohol aren't a good combination.

Caffeine can cause a person to feel more energized momentarily and cover up alcohol's depressant effects. That might lead you to drink even more or put yourself at risk for alcohol-related accidents (e.g., thinking that you're sober enough to drive home when you're actually not).

06 of 07

Worst: Energy Drinks

Another specific type of beverage that individuals tend to consume along with alcohol is energy drinks. In a May 2021 meta-analysis, 3,030 participants across the analyzed studies reported that they drank alcohol with energy drinks.

However, you'll want to avoid energy drinks before alcohol. Even though you might looking to gain energy from other ingredients in the drinks (e.g., B vitamins or ginseng), energy drinks typically contain some source of caffeine.

That means that drinking energy drinks before alcohol might affect you the same way that caffeine on its own might.

07 of 07

Worst: Salty Foods

Close up of salted pretzels
Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

Salty foods contain sodium, a nutrient that the body needs but only in small amounts. You might want to enjoy some salty foods (e.g., peanuts, pretzels) before enjoying a drink, but those are the very snacks you'll want to avoid before indulging in adult beverages.

Consuming a lot of sodium has been associated with increased bloating. The puffiness that comes with bloating may be uncomfortable, but that's not the only potential consequence.

Eating salty snacks can also be an issue concerning blood pressure, as both salt and alcohol can affect blood pressure levels. Specifically, both high salt intake and high alcohol consumption can lead to a rise in blood pressure.

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Sources
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    • Wallace TC, Bailey RL, Blumberg JB, et al. Fruits, vegetables, and health: A comprehensive narrative, umbrella review of the science and recommendations for enhanced public policy to improve intake. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2020;60(13):2174-2211.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2019.1632258
  2. Helpful tips for healthy holiday parties. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  3. CDC. Water and healthier drinks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  4. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) treatment. Johns Hopkins Medicine.

  5. GERD diet: foods that help with acid reflux (heartburn). Johns Hopkins Medicine.

  6. Alcohol and caffeine. CDC.

  7. Nadeem IM, Shanmugaraj A, Sakha S, Horner NS, Ayeni OR, Khan M. Energy drinks and their adverse health effects: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Health. 2020;13(3):265-277.  10.1177/1941738120949181

  8. Energy drinks. NCCIH.

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  10. Peng AW, Juraschek SP, Appel LJ, Miller ER, Mueller NT. Effects of the dash diet and sodium intake on bloating: results from the dash–sodium trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2019;114(7):1109-1115.  10.14309/ajg.0000000000000283

  11. Wake AD. The role of dietary salt and alcohol use reduction in the management of hypertension. Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy. 2021;19(1):27-40. https://doi.org/10.1080/14779072.2021.1850266

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