Be it during a drinking session or after, pizza and other unhealthy foods are definitely the best accompaniments ever. But, have you ever wondered why?
A recent study by University at Buffalo was conducted to find just that.
"Given the obesity epidemic and the rates of alcohol consumption on college campuses, we need to be aware of not only the negative effect of alcohol consumption, but also the impact it has on what people are eating while they are drinking," said lead author Jessica Kruger of University at Buffalo.
The inspiration for the study came from an ad, she and some of her co-authors saw in a university newspaper. "It said, 'Got Drunchies?' and had ads for pizza, tacos, and other fast-food places that were open late after the bars closed," Kruger said.
Consider, for example, that an average beer contains 150 calories. If a person drinks five beers, that's 750 calories, or a third of their daily energy intake. Add two slices of pizza or a burrito to that at the end of the night, and it's a recipe for weight gain.
"So, we dug a bit deeper and first figured out what the 'drunchies' were, and then decided this would be interesting to study. Our first study in this area focused on what people ate while drinking alcohol. This study explored what they eat the day after drinking," Kruger said.
Researchers found that drinking influenced study participants' dietary behaviours before going to bed. "All alcohol drinkers were more likely to eat something before they went to bed after drinking alcohol than in general before they go to bed," Kruger and her colleagues wrote.
Specifically, they were more likely to opt for salty snack foods and pizza. Healthy foods, such as dark green vegetables and other veggies they would ordinarily eat, weren't as appealing.
Of particular concern, the researchers noted, was the fact that participants didn't report drinking more water or other non-alcoholic beverages before bed. That exacerbates dehydration, which may lead to additionally unhealthy food choices.
The following day after drinking, participants' dietary patterns varied from the night before. They were less likely to skip meals the morning after a night of drinking compared to a typical morning.
And they favoured foods like pizza or tacos over milk and dairy products and grains, most likely because of the so-called hangover cures that get passed down to students and which entail eating foods that "soak up" the alcohol. Dispelling these myths is one way to promote a healthy diet even after a night of binge drinking, Kruger said.
So what's happening in the body that causes the drunchies? "It is believed that after drinking alcohol, the amount of blood glucose in the body can rise and fall which stimulates the brain to feel hungry," Kruger explained.
The study appears in the Californian Journal of Health Promotion.
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