Pre-gaming is like the interlude of an album — it sets the tone for what's to come. Plans that have been dormant in the group chat for what feels like eons are finally happening. Everyone’s makeup brushes collide on top of a too-small bathroom sink with somebody’s floating falsies that nobody seems to find the matching pair of until the Uber is outside.

Whether you’re hosting an official pre-game party or somebody passes a shot glass to you while you’re getting ready, pre-gaming can be a wonderful prelude to your festivities. Sometimes, it can be better than the main event.

And yes, of course, there’s booze. But where’s the food?

#SpoonTip: Drinking can be fun, but be responsible. Spoon does not promote binge or underage drinking. Stay safe!

Why you should eat before going out 

If you’re feeling kind of icky and nauseous at even the thought of eating before drinking, you’re not alone. Eating before drinking is not always the most popular thing because of the notion that if you do eat before drinking, you won’t be able to get drunk. Not only is it not true, but following this myth can lead to more harm than good.

Consuming alcohol on an empty stomach can accelerate the side effects of drinking and increase your chances of feeling extremely nauseous, dizzy, and stomach pain — aka a really, really unpleasant hangover.

Dana Hunnes, PhD, a senior dietician at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center, told Mens Health there’s a helpful process that occurs when there’s food in your stomach before drinking. First, the water content draws out from the food, diluting the alcohol, which then prompts the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to break down, slowing the absorption of alcohol.

“Eating anything is better than eating nothing, except perhaps for caffeine and salt,” Hunnes said.

On the flip side, choosing the wrong foods to eat while drinking can make you feel gurgly, bloated, and sluggish. So how do you find that happy medium?

So, what should be on your pre-game snack plate?

Dr. Ashley Alexis, ND, owner of the Golden Health Leaf Center, suggests eating foods high in healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and salmon. Doing so will provide a much-needed barrier in your stomach to slow the rate of alcohol absorption. 

“When we drink alcohol on an empty stomach, it goes right through our stomach through the pyloric sphincter, which connects our stomach to our small intestine, and gets absorbed into the blood through there,” she says. “When you have fat before you drink, the fat in the food that you eat will actually close up the pyloric sphincter for up to six hours — meaning that the alcohol will hit your system a lot slower.”

Party foods are the perfect dishes to showcase those healthy fats and make into a pre-game snack plate, especially because they’re easy to incorporate into dips. Avocados to make guacamole, nuts to add to your charcuterie board, and if you’re feeling fancy — a bread dip with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Not so fancy, though? Try garlic bread! Platters can go a long way and are easy to stuff in the fridge for later — drunk-you will thank yourself for it.

While you can go all out for the occasion, most pre-games are a time crunch between getting ready and dressing to the nines so mess-free finger foods are a must! Try mashing your favorite protein with rice and turning it into little bite-sized balls or an onigiri complete with dried seaweed if you want to incorporate salmon. If you’re looking to save a bit of coin though, try frozen bagel pizza bites, or be like me and go on a Trader Joe's run and grab their new kimbap item for your pre-game snack plate.

Normalize food at your next pre-game though, on behalf of your wallet and post-morning-you. Don’t get mad at me though if the pre-game turns into the actual party!