If you drink, there’s a good chance that you have experienced the woes of the almighty hangover: a throbbing headache, achy joints, and legs that feel like grape jelly. You know how it goes. Fueling up on Gatorade and water is a no-brainer (hydration, hydration, hydration)… but explaining why your body thinks greasy food cures hangovers is trickier. In fact, you might not even know why you think greasy food cures hangovers. And while the myth of the greasy hangover cure gives us breakfast fanatics something to believe in, this theory has become such a well-known philosophy that it’s become the norm to just simply believe it.
Like most food-body interactions, there is so much more to it. When you drink alcohol, your body experiences a variety of changes. This includes alterations to the type of food you crave. Interestingly enough, alcohol intake encourages the brain to release galanin, the neurochemical that promotes a need for fatty foods. It also explains all those late night jaunts for pizza.
By the time you wake up, the galanin levels in your brain are still higher than usual. This leads to wanting nothing less than a plate of never-ending hash browns and a ginormous breakfast sandwich. After you change out of last night’s clothes, of course.
Given the uncomfortable nature of a hangover, it’s no wonder that we seek comfort foods in the form of greasy meals. Yet, considering the impact of galanin, it’s safe to say that this craving is more of a neurochemical-induced fix and less of a “cure.” Basically, this myth is all in your head. Literally.
Does this mean skipping out on brunch after a night of drinking is pointless? Not necessarily. Being cognizant of this chemical correlation will emphasize the importance of re-hydrating before, during, and after drinking.
At the very least, chowing down on a fatty meal before consuming alcohol will work in your favor. Drinking on a full stomach slows down alcohol absorption, decreasing the chances for a painful hangover. And while that plate of hash browns won’t exactly cure anything, your stomach will be full and happy.