Are Food Hangovers Really Real? An RD explains
While there isn’t much research on hangovers, Elizabeth Klingbeil, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Johnson and Wales University, says it’s pretty widespread. “Eating hangovers are quite the topic, especially around Thanksgiving and the winter holidays,” she says, adding that you might feel a little full and groggy after eating more than usual. “What you eat has an impact on how you feel,” she says.
Even if your meal is not larger than usual, there are times when we eat foods that we don’t normally eat or consume a dish that contains an ingredient that we often limit. For example, an incredibly salty meal can cause a “hangover,” which could be the result of dehydration, Albert Ahn, MD, told Well + Good. A little more sugar than usual can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which can cause nausea, nervousness, and even headaches. But the most common hangover culprit? The hangover, which describes “the feeling of heaviness, slow digestion, even bloating after consuming a large portion of meat”, Taylor Fazio, MS, RD, CDN, wellness consultant at The Lanby, a firm Membership-only health care facility in New York City.
Depending on what you eat, the food stays in your stomach for six to eight hours, says Harland Adkins RDN, registered dietitian-nutritionist and founder of Fast Food Menu Prices. “But, foods high in fat stay in your stomach longer … and can still be with you in the morning, causing nausea, heartburn, and stomach pain.” So while it might be too late for this tried and true hangover tip, moderation is key. “If you eat foods that you don’t normally eat, your body won’t be as efficient or good at digesting those foods,” says Dr. Klingbeil. The best way to avoid this is to avoid consuming large amounts of foods that are usually not part of your diet. You can take a little, but try to limit your intake to an amount that is manageable for your body.
If you are reading this while healing a hangover, moderation advice is irrelevant this time around. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease your symptoms. If you have gastrointestinal issues like stomach cramps, try to resist the urge to stay under the covers. “To jumpstart your digestion, get some aerobic exercise,” says Adkins. “It helps your gastrointestinal tract move and boosts your metabolism.”
And if you experience puffiness or tightness in your stomach, high sodium levels could be to blame. “Excessive sodium intake often causes fluid retention, which makes you feel ‘bloated’. The best way to combat this is to drink plenty of water and avoid high amounts of sodium the next day, ”says Dr. Klingbeil. Now the recommended sodium intake is 250 mg, but it is very easy to exceed that. French fries, cheese, cold cuts and even cereals are high in sodium.
As for what you can snack on while you recover? “Have a fruit smoothie, with a little ground flax seed added for more fiber, or a vegetable soup, like butternut squash,” says Adkins. “The fiber in fruits and vegetables will also speed up movement of your gastrointestinal tract and add bulk to your stool.” And finally, you can take comfort in knowing that, according to the Cleveland Clinic, you should be feeling like yourself in less than 24 hours.
Oh hi! You look like someone who enjoys free workouts, discounts for top wellness brands, and exclusive Well + Good content. Subscribe to Well +, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.