Avoid Eating These Salty Snacks Before Drinking Alcohol

Whether it's movie night at home, a basketball game, Friday night with your friends at the local bar, or a live music event you've been looking forward to for months, salty snacks end up becoming a close prelude to the alcoholic beverages that come with the night. In fact, some might even call them a classic pairing. 

But salty treats like popcorn, pretzels, and chips can make the dehydrating properties of alcohol even worse. When you consume alcoholic beverages which are diuretic by nature, you urinate a lot more, which also means you experience electrolyte imbalance. Both of these leave you dehydrated.

Salty snacks are dehydrating too. Excess sodium, without proper hydration, forces your body to extract water from your cells, leading to dehydration. The last thing you want is to add a double whammy of sorts to an already dehydrating process. Another downside to salty treats? Excess fluid buildup and bloating. Salt causes your body to hold on to water, while alcoholic beverages promote bloating through their sugar content and carbonation. Again, you're getting off to a bad start — bloating-wise — if chips and salted popcorn are on your list of foods to consume before drinking a few glasses of wine. What you should be reaching for, instead, are foods that help you stay hydrated.

Treats to snack on before consuming alcohol

Gone are the days when hydrating foods like watermelon and apples were unappealing as snacks that accompany alcohol. Fruits and vegetables, in general, are a great go-to, especially when you're trying to avoid complete dehydration while drinking. 

Eating protein-rich foods like eggs, Greek yogurt, trail mix, and lean meats can help too by slowing down alcohol absorption and keeping you full for longer (thereby preventing late-night binging after a night out). Other foods to consume before drinking alcohol include complex carb sources like sweet potatoes, magnesium and potassium-rich foods like quinoa, bananas, and apples (to minimize electrolyte imbalances brought on by consuming alcohol), and healthy fat sources like avocado (again, because they can slow down alcohol absorption) and salmon (owing to its inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids and protein content).

Alcohol is also thought to significantly influence vitamin C loss, so consuming fruits and juices that contain lots of vitamin C is also a good idea, per the experts. Your liver is another organ that alcohol impacts, so you may want to add in some foods that help protect it — we're talking turmeric, cinnamon, kale, broccoli, lemon, oats, chia seeds, blueberries, grapefruit, asparagus, and beets. Last but not least, water. "Aim to drink at least two liters of water during the day. I'd also recommend having a pint of water with your dinner before going out," explained nutrition scientist and dietitian Kathryn O'Sullivan, per Cosmopolitan

The day after: Can salty treats cure hangovers?

It is important to note that there are a lot of myths about hangovers you should stop believing. For example, while people might tell you to chug back another beer (hair of the dog, etc.) to relieve hangover symptoms, this is not an expert-recommended cure. But what about salty snacks? 

Since your body has lost electrolytes (including sodium) because of last night's drinking session, you may crave salt in the morning. Nutritionist Suzanne Dixon told Business Insider, "Craving salt may result from being dehydrated. Alcohol is very dehydrating — it removes more fluid from the body than it supplies in the drink — and when your body sheds fluids, you can lose electrolytes, including sodium, along with that fluid." So we say, if it's going to encourage you to reach for the water, then giving into that craving is not the worst idea.

How can you consume salt without going overboard though? Opt for sports drinks with sodium in them or even something like chicken noodle soup. Registered dietician nutritionist Maggie Michalczyk explained to Everyday Health, "Chicken noodle soup is hydrating and salty, which will help satisfy that craving. Plus, you'll get some protein to help keep you satisfied, and the vitamins and minerals from celery and carrots will replenish those lost through drinking as well." For more on hangover foods, here are some foods to eat and foods to avoid eating when you have a hangover.