More often than not, the best drunk foods are the world's worst ideas. (Cheese on cheese does not qualify as a balanced late-night snack.) Instead of learning the hard way, avoid these foods while you're buzzed:
1. Marinara pizza: Unfortunately, the ultimate late night indulgence is a recipe for disaster in every way: Alcohol loosens up the muscles that keep your food and digestive juices down, and the acidic tomatoes in marinara sauce (and salsa and hot sauce) can provoke GERD, acid reflux, and heartburn, says George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for the National Institutes of Health. They're especially bad when you eat them late at night right before you lie down, when gravity stops helping you keep your food down. Bring on the white pizza — as long as it's not too greasy, it's a better bet. (Too much fat can aggravate your stomach too.) Just blot the oil with a napkin if your slice runneth over.
2. Chocolate: The caffeine, fat, and cocoa in chocolate join forces to aggravate the same gastro issues triggered by other acidic foods (see above). Avoid!
3. Homemade quesadillas: Wait, does this involve a stove? Yes, yes, it does. Open flames are like heavy machinery: Do not operate them under the influence. If you really need a grilled cheese or another culinary masterpiece, find a 24-hour diner. (You'll be safer and your taste buds won't complain.)
4. Pretzels: It's practically your right to crave crunchy snack foods when you're drunk. But salty snack foods make you thirsty, which can lead you to drink more and more quickly. (That's fine if you reach for water, but could be dangerous if you quench your thirst with the cocktail in your hand.) Still, it's smart to snack while you drink, because it slows the absorption of alcohol. If the only food in arm's reach is salty, go for it, but make a point to wash it down with copious amounts of water.
5. Fries: Sorry for the buzz kill, but fried foods contain lots of salt that can further dehydrate you, says registered dietitian Keri Glassman, who is based in New York City.
6. Liquor-laced desserts: It might seem like an absolutely brilliant idea to finish off a boozy meal with a boozy dessert. (The icing on your cake: Eating your nightcap!) But you never know how much alcohol is in there — especially in sauces in which the alcohol doesn't bake off, Koob says. Unless you're looking to enhance your buzz, steer clear. Go for the vanilla ice cream instead. Unless dairy typically messes with your system, milk and milk-based foods can actually coat the stomach and prevent some of the chemical reactions that irritate your liver when you drink alcohol, Koob says.
7. Oranges: Healthy? Yes. Smart? Nope. The acid in oranges and other citrus fruits can instigate digestive issues. If you're smart enough to go for fruit while you're wasted (produce has lots of water than can help hydrate you, plus fiber to fill you up), have a banana: They're high in potassium, so they can undo some of alcohol's dehydrating effects, Glassman says.
8. Candy: Like salty stuff, super-sweet foods can make you want to drink more — and you're more like to reach for alcohol than water, Glassman says. Plus, sweets are full of empty calories. Note: If you are dying for a leftover cupcake or piece of cake or whatever, don't try to eat around the craving. Glassman says you'll end up eating more and eventually cave on what you really wanted, anyway. (Especially when inhibitions are down.) Choose one snack and stick with it.
9. Hot sauce: Spicy foods that upset your stomach when you're sober will really mess with your system when you're drunk, Koob says. Remind your drunk self: Alcohol. Will. Make. It. Worse.