Waking up at eight in the morning, drinking beers in the shower for breakfast and immediately taking shots of J?germeister can be all fun and games, but when the steam runs out things can easily go awry. This might be a passable pre-gaming routine for the fall football season; people only have to stay lucid enough to stand, and there is a substantial break in partying after the game end and before the night really starts.
The Mifflin Street Block Party’s day (and night) of festivities demand an extra measure of consumption beyond alcohol. One can hardly imagine going all day without eating something during the block party — and for good reason. Food has never been the traditional focus of the day, but that does not altogether eliminate foresight and consumptive pragmatism from the proverbial mind grapes. Many a partier who pursues being a drunken mess above all else will wind up in bed or detox way before sundown, which is unfortunate considering the tasty preventative measures that could have been taken.
To give a performance boost to those without meal plans and with no specific eating agenda, this week’s Gastronomic Leap is a rough prescription of an optimal meal setup for the entire day. My goal is to give good guidelines resulting in delicious drunken decisions.
Breakfast is going to be ultra-important for early morning drinking, and light foods will be more beneficial to the body, and more conducive to heavy drinking than will greasy or fat-laden foods, which will cause performance to suffer immediately. This isn’t necessarily because carbohydrate-heavy foods are more absorbent or will slow down the digestion of alcohol; the absorbent qualities of bread have been exaggerated and are something of a myth. Eating a huge breakfast of sausages sounds delicious, but may just put you back to bed. Hash browns, French toast, a small portion of bacon, some eggs or oatmeal are all good ideas for a breakfast bonanza that won’t make you too full to drink, and will keep energy levels high for the day. Pancakes can also be easily made en masse, which makes them ideal for a quick and delicious breakfast. Deborah Roussos, registered dietitian extraordinaire at Madison Group Health Cooperative, discussed the finer points of eating before drinking, and how to stay full.
“Complex carbs, like the pancakes, will get into the blood stream faster and give quick energy, but a little bit of lean protein like eggs [...] can make the feeling of fullness have some staying power,” Roussos said.
Lunch is the wild card that can really disadvantage some people in the long run. Trying to grab a soup and salad combo during the height of the party’s shitshow can be difficult and unappealing. After all, there is a lot of drinking to be done, and a lot of bathrooms to be invaded. A pre-emptive rule of thumb works well in this case.
“We recommend eating every three to five hours, depending on if you’ve eaten. If you eat a heavy protein and fat meal, you may want to wait four to five hours,” Roussos said. If you stick to it you will end up eating when you aren’t necessarily starving, but you may not regret you ate sooner than later after dominating in several games of flip-cup. I have seen many skip the lunch meal in favor of more beer, but even the greasier food vendors available during the block party are preferred over eating nothing at all.
Dinner can be a game-changer for some. The meal traditionally occurs between 6 and 8 p.m., and those familiar with the festivities should know that this is when things start to wind down a bit. People will get drunk, others will puke and/or get arrested, some will pass out and the conscious survivors will be wondering what to do next. A plan of more drinking should include dinner as a first priority and the basis for any next step in celebration. This meal has its benefits from the longer amount of time available to consume it. A hearty meal is in order, and just about anything in moderation can suffice. One important goal of dinner is to eat a whole meal, which will include some kind of balanced combination of proteins, carbs, fiber, vegetables and calcium. One of the most important things to avoid is heavy snacking. High sodium and sugar intake may give you a boost and make you feel full, but it will do you in later after the corn meal has been digested. The salts will also dehydrate you further, and possibly lead to a worse hangover the next day.
Regularly eating can be crucial to prolonged drinking, but some studies have shown the rate of alcohol elimination in the body is not affected by the composition of the food you eat. Experiments conducted by Ramchandi, Kwo and Li at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism involving intravenous alcohol consumption one hour after eating a meal consisting solely of protein, carbohydrates or fat resulted in a similar increase in the rates of alcohol elimination irrespective of the meal composition. This indicates that eating anything is beneficial to partying hard, but it doesn’t account for the effects that food has on your energy levels and metabolic process. It’s true a greasier meal can coat your stomach lining with fat and slow down the metabolism of alcohol, but it can also tire you out and slow down your metabolism to an extent of extreme laziness and lethargy.
There is one more thing I would like to discuss in the realm of eating to support heavy drinking. Many who drink on Saturday will be drinking to excess, and that’s just a reality of the block party. This doesn’t mean that I condone or encourage heavy drinking, but I do think that it is just as imperative to address the problems of excessive drinking, as it is prudent to eat well in order to prevent an alcohol-induced stupor. Don’t get so faded that you can’t even feed yourself, because missing out on drunken gluttony would be a terrible thing.
Alex Truong is a junior majoring in economics and history. Comments and hating can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.