Square burgers on slider buns, french fries, Texas toast, peeeetzah. This is your brain hungover, inhibitions be damned. Anything to help the fatigue, throbbing head, and queasy stomach.
Research into hangovers (a worthy task) reveals greasy food cravings are the result of two factors. The first is brain chemistry. Consuming alcohol increases the production of a brain chemical called galanin, and galanin increases our hunger for fats.
The second is energy. Drinking is high energy business, and our instincts seek the quickest way to replenish what we’ve lost. The best way to do this? Calorie dense food.
Hop Culture sat down with Mikey Sorboro, owner of Mikey’s Late Night Slice and Oddfellow’s Liquor Bar in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss hangover relief. While he speculated he may have been “blessed with an Olympic athlete of a liver; a true Usain Bolt of organs,” he offered up some tricks to make you feel like “less of an asshole after a night (or series of nights) of pounding booze.”
Chug water. Bonus points for coconut water or a sports drink, which contain electrolytes. Some people swear by a cup o’ joe, but because coffee, like alcohol, is a diuretic, it only magnifies hangover symptoms. Not to mention that coffee is acidic, which can irritate sensitive stomachs.
Sorboro said, “For the rare, ‘Oh-God-take-me-now’ hangover, there are a few things I rely on for some sweet, sweet — albeit never complete — relief: a couple aspirin and a strong kombucha. This combination, although not tested scientifically, has undergone many internal trials with amazing success.”
Although it’s the one thing he hates doing most when he’s hungover, Sorboro advises exercising or finding a gym with a sauna. Just be sure to drink plenty of fluids so you don’t become further dehydrated.
The big one. Sometimes what we eat while hungover doesn’t feel like a choice so much as an emergency, but if we want to be smart about it, some foods are more beneficial than others. Eggs, for example, contain amino acids that boost liver function. They also contain healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and nutrients. Toast is stomach settling and raises blood sugar levels. Chicken noodle soup is gentle on an irritated stomach, and restores sodium and water. Oatmeal is also full of nutrients — B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron — and works to offset acidic stomachs. Then there are fruits: bananas are a good source of potassium, along with dates; leafy greens and yogurt help restore the body’s lost vitamins and electrolytes; watermelon brings the blood sugar back up and replenishes water.
But let’s be honest, only the best among us reach for a banana when hungover. “Hangovers seem to give me this total carte blanche to eat whatever bullshit I want to ‘make me feel better,’” says Sorboro. “Fast food burgers. Pizza. Anything fried. I love breakfast foods when I’m nursing a bitchin’ hangover. Eggs, salt, fat — keep it coming!” His perfect hangover meal is a sausage and cheese omelette, crispy hash browns with cheese and onions, rye toast with REAL butter, and a side of sausage gravy.
“Oh, and shame,” he added. “Boatloads of shame.”