Washington: Have you ever thought why do you eat more when you drink? It may feel pleasurable to munch on a packet of chips while having a beer or just eating cheese or cake with a glass of wine, but it can come with unwanted side effects like excess calories and weight gain.
An easy way to explain why we eat more while drinking is that alcohol can decrease our defenses in terms of portion control and picking healthy eating choices and also lowers our inhibitions, reported CNN.
Whenever people are drinking, they are more likely to grab a handful of nuts, chips, bread or whatever is available at that very moment to satisfy their craving.
"Studies show that people will consume more at meals when they're including alcohol or have been drinking before the meal," said Ginger Hultin, a dietitian.
There is evidence that alcohol can influence hormones related to satiety. Alcohol may inhibit the effects of leptin which is a hormone that suppresses appetite and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone that inhibits food intake, Hultin explained.
Some research suggests that alcohol might stimulate nerve cells in the brain's hypothalamus that increases appetite. According to another study, neurons in the brain that are generally activated by actual starvation can also be stimulated by alcohol which can cause an intense feeling of hunger.
"Animal research shows that, independent of other factors, when alcohol stimulates this part of the brain, it can trigger a sharp increase in appetite, which can lead to overeating," Hultin said.
Alcohol can also lower blood sugar, which can cause us to crave sugar and carbs. This way people with diabetes are at even higher risk for low blood sugar levels when they drink.
"Drinking alcohol can impair the liver's ability to release the right amount of glycogen, or stored glucose, into the blood to keep blood glucose levels stable," Hultin said.
Some ways to curb eating too much while consuming alcohol includes, drinking with a balanced meal. "Include whole-grain, complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, and protein so that your body is nourished and satiated from the start," Hultin said.
Another way is to not eat unhealthy snacks. Chips, candies, pizza and other desserts are easy to grab foods if your appetite starts to rise, Hultin explained. Making healthier options more accessible is another great option. If you know that you will be tempted to eat when drinking, take out hummus with chopped veggies, fruit or air-popped popcorn to munch on.
Last but not the least is keeping yourself hydrated. This will save you from consuming calories. "Alcohol is dehydrating, so make sure to sip on plain or sparkling water if you find yourself wanting to snack," Hultin said.