No night out is properly complete without something hot, greasy and covered in cheese. If you haven’t lurched into a takeaway at three in the morning, armed only with a grubby tenner and an insatiable appetite then you haven’t experienced what it truly means to party. Fried chicken, kebabs, pizza - all are a perfect nightcap to complement an boozy evening.
There is almost always a sense of inevitability about where a night out will end up. No matter how noble our intentions might be at the beginning, all it usually takes is the slightest rumour of fast food to send us charging out into the night for nourishment. You might think that this is all about willpower, or lack thereof. It turns out that you are wrong.
Scientists from the University of Michigan have recently discovered that it is chemistry, and not greed, that prompts us to head to the pizza parlour after a party. In a nutshell, the research, which focused on a group of 286 students, showed that excessive drinking causes blood sugar levels in the brain to rapidly rise and fall, leading to feelings of hunger.
The study also found that excessive boozing causes the body to crave salt, leading to a hankering for the sorts of foods that always prove popular in a takeaway. In a twist that will surprise no one at all, scientists also discovered that of all the food groups, healthy dark-green veggies were the least appealing to a hungry drunk. Why they needed a whole study to prove that particular pearl of wisdom remains a mystery.
According to Professor Jessica Kruger, who fronted the study, “alcohol drinkers [are] more likely to eat something before they went to bed after drinking alcohol than in general before they go to bed”, and that “alcohol stimulates the brain to feel hungry”. But, interestingly, despite craving the sorts of food that should be reserved for special occasions, drinking alcohol does not, according to Dr Kruger, cause us to want to drink more water or other potentially helpful fluids. When we’re drunk, we really are our own worst enemy.
Though the university’s research is certainly compelling from a physiological point of view, there is more to the story than chemistry. In addition to the natural changes in glucose levels brought on by booze, scientists believe that the mistaken belief that “heavy carbs” can soak up alcohol is a major motivation for food bingeing. Though there is little evidence to suggest that fast food helps a hangover, it’s now part of our culture. It is the combination of these two factors that makes food like pizza completely irresistible to our addled brains.
There is a serious side to the university’s findings. The scientists believe that this sort of binge eating is one of the key factors contributing to a rise in obesity in adults across countries such as the UK. It might seem that drunk fast food is an inevitable consequence of leaving the house. If the results of this study are to be believed, we all need to exercise a little more will power if we want to live healthier lives.