Can Eating Food Help You Get Sober?
Having a meal just before or while drinking can help delay the onset of intoxication, but it will not get you sober. Mixing food and alcohol may help you relax, stabilize your blood sugar, and keep you hydrated during a night of drinking. However, it isn’t a good idea to eat food that contains substances such as marijuana. Combining these substances with alcohol can have a devastating effect on your health.
Zinnia Health offers evidence-based programs at our residential facilities nationwide. Our experts understand the addictive nature of alcoholism and have helped thousands achieve lasting sobriety. If you’re ready to start, call us at (855) 430-9439.
How Food Interacts With Alcohol
You might have heard that drinking on an empty stomach causes you to get drunk faster. And while that may be true, eating food while drinking alcohol will not prevent alcohol intoxication. Food can soak up some alcohol temporarily, but it will not prevent alcohol from reaching your bloodstream or speed up the process of elimination.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Your body processes alcohol at an average rate of one standard drink per hour, according to Alcoholic Beverage Control. This is a constant rate that isn’t disrupted by food intake. However, it can take the body longer to process alcohol if you consume more than one drink an hour.
Consuming foods high in carbs or fiber may slow the absorption of alcohol. However, this doesn’t change the time it takes your liver to metabolize alcohol. Research in the Journal of Molecular Science found that components in dietary fiber and carbohydrates interact with drug metabolism and digestion. This interaction can change the rate of drug absorption, but it will not impact the effects of alcohol.
Some people believe that fried foods or foods heavy in oil reduce hangover symptoms. A study published by Bowling Green State University found that eating fatty foods right before drinking can lead to a delayed increase in blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, fatty foods will not speed up body processes or lower the BAC.
Macronutrients and Alcohol Metabolism
The above-listed research also found that fats, proteins, and carbohydrates influence alcohol metabolism in various ways. However, they do not speed up the liver’s job in processing alcohol. On the other hand, UC San Diego states that alcohol interferes with nutrient absorption and food metabolism.
Benefits of Having Food with Alcohol
Food may not be the answer to getting you sober or feeling better the next day, but food provides other benefits when combined with alcohol.
Replenishing Lost Fluids
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect. After consuming alcohol, you may have dehydration symptoms like a dry mouth and increased thirst. Nutrient-rich, hydrating foods can alleviate dehydration and improve your nutrient levels.
Coconut water contains essential electrolytes that help balance your body’s fluid levels. Taking a few sips along with a glass of water can help if you’re feeling hungover.
Blood Sugar Stabilization
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs states that alcohol causes fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. This contributes to symptoms such as dizziness and lightheadedness. Foods that contain fiber mitigate these symptoms by stabilizing your blood sugar. Good choices of fiber-rich foods are oatmeal and whole-grain bread.
May Improve Comfort
Alcohol may cause you to feel jittery and uneasy. Some people feel relaxed after having a light meal. This may be due to rehydration and restored blood sugar levels, but little research has been done on this connection.
Ways to Get Sober Naturally
If you want to sober up fast, it’s best to go to sleep and wait it out. If you’re tempted to get a little fresh air, open a window and rest. Remember that drunk driving can lead to a DUI arrest and possibly jail time.
Following common myths like drinking coffee, snacking on carbs, and drinking water will not help you sober up. The best way to get sober is to let the process occur naturally.
When you consume alcohol, it enters the stomach and small intestine, where most of it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Once it enters the liver, alcohol is converted to a toxin called acetaldehyde before becoming acetate. This is a safer chemical that your body releases through breathing and urination.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol affects sensitive neurotransmitters in the brain that control speech, balance, coordination, and judgment. This results in the classic signs of intoxication, like slowed speech, delayed motor skills, impaired judgment, and dizziness.
No matter what foods you eat, your liver can only process a small amount of alcohol at a time.
Wait it Out
Your body eliminates approximately one standard drink per hour, depending on your alcohol consumption. According to Alcoholic Beverage Control, allowing your liver enough time to metabolize alcohol is the only way to get sober.
Avoid Foods with Alcohol and Other Substances
If you’re looking to get sober, read your food labels carefully. Some foods contain alcohol which can delay the process. In addition, foods that contain marijuana, such as gummies or brownies, can worsen the effects of alcohol. Mixing the two substances is called polysubstance use or polyconsumption.
The Colorado Department of Transportation states that polyconsumption increases:
- Slowed reaction time
- Loss of coordination
- Impaired decision-making
- Distorted perception
Seeking Outside Assistance
If you are binge drinking, tested above the legal limit on a blood alcohol level test, or have had alcohol poisoning, you may have alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a form of addiction that causes an intense craving for alcohol.
People with this condition have withdrawal symptoms when they get sober.
These alcohol withdrawal symptoms include shakiness, tremors, anxiety, nervousness, and dizziness.
Alcohol use disorder affects the way you think. This explains why people continue to drink despite having negative consequences. Unfortunately, alcohol use disorder increases the risk of developing alcohol toxicity, also called alcohol overdose.
Alcohol toxicity includes symptoms of severe dehydration along with the following:
- bluish fingers and lips
- fainting or losing balance
- trouble breathing
- weakened gag reflex
If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Alcohol toxicity is life-threatening and requires treatment in a medical setting. Do not attempt to eat food to reduce these symptoms.
Getting Help For Addiction
Don’t lose hope if you’ve tried to stop drinking on your own but relapsed. Alcohol addiction is a fully treatable disease. With the right approach to care, you can achieve lasting sobriety.
Alcohol addiction requires a comprehensive approach for successful treatment. This may involve therapy, medication, or both. Medication-assisted detox allows alcohol to leave your system under medical supervision. This approach reduces the risk of serious withdrawal symptoms.
Zinnia Health offers medication-assisted detox and evidence-based programs like SMART Recovery, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and 12-step programs to help you achieve sobriety.
If you or someone you know has tried to stop drinking but can’t, we can help. Together, we’ll design a customized treatment plan with your goals in mind. Call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439 to find out how to get started.