I'd like to think that most grown-ups never go out with the intention to get absolutely smashed. We've all had one too many from time to time and I'll wager that at some stage over your drinking life you've come across that stereotypical Aussie view that "eating is cheating".
It's odd that in a country that considers the meat pie (up there with the kebab for best drinking grub) amongst its national dishes, you'd encounter this sort of attitude. Eating well is, in fact, key to maintaining a little control over your alcohol consumption. Not eating on the other hand is only cheating yourself out of an enjoyable day following your revels.
I consider myself something of a professional drinker. Every working day for me revolves in one way or another around alcohol and it has forced me to develop strategies to moderate alcohol intake and intoxication. In this, I believe, food plays the starring role.
Whilst no nutritionist, I do have a recommendation or two on what to eat pre-, post- and during your night out.
Line your stomach
Forget the glass of milk nonsense. And a bowl of crisps at your after-work drinks won't do the job either. Lining your stomach is about having a substantial meal before you head out. A bowl of pasta, a roast vegetable salad or any nutritional meal will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your system and leave you less likely to crave fatty or sugary foods as the evening wears on.
Furthermore, ethanal is popularly believed to be the chemical responsible for causing your hangover. It's produced as your body processes ethanol (beverage alcohol). Having a meal before a night on the tiles helps your digestive system cope because there is less ethanal for the body to deal with at any one time.
The midnight munch
Admittedly it's hard to resist a popping into the nearest fast food outlet a few bars into your night out. There's a good reason for this - when your body process alcohol, it causes your blood sugar to drop, which in turn will have you craving all sorts of naughty snacks - kebabs, pies and pizza are all more tempting than ever.
Eating at this stage will still help slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, but as cravings increase, willpower slackens and blood sugar drops, you're likely to consume far more calories than you really need. More important at this stage of the night is staying hydrated – match every drink with a glass of water and aim for a full schooner or two of H2O before heading to bed. If you're organised, take a Berocca or rehydration sachet like Hydrolyte or Gastrolyte before sleeping, too.
Let's get this straight – the only 100 per cent foolproof hangover cure is not to drink at all. In saying that, there are definitely a few eating guidelines to help ease your pain.
The traditional fry-up is not as a good an idea as you might think. Digesting a high-fat breakfast will serve only to put extra strain on your already stressed digestive system. Instead, try honey on toast maybe with a little sliced banana. Or, for something a little more filling, poached eggs on toast with baked beans. Toast and beans will help steady blood sugar levels and replace lost sodium. Eggs, on the other hand, contain a chemical called cysteine that will help your body process toxins whilst honey and bananas will replace potassium and give you a boost of fructose.
Avoid coffee and tea – caffeine will only serve to continue the dehydration and irritate a stomach that has already been pestered by alcohol. OJ can be little too acidic for those of delicate stomach, and milk is to be avoided, too. Rehydration sachets and isotonic sports drinks are great at replacing lost salts and hydrating you to boot.
It's still a process of trial and error to find out what works for you. My miracle dish for no logical reason is a Vietnamese Beef Pho washed down with a can of cola.
What's your ultimate morning after-meal?