Whether you’ve planned a marathon evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing, or an oh-so romantic night of Netflix and chill, you want your body to cooperate with your date night agenda. It’s no surprise that what you eat influences how you feel, and when it comes to close encounters, it’s about more than just steering clear of the garlic. We went ahead and compiled the best (and worst) foods to help you get ready for the big event.
There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting too drunk on a date. But when you spend hours swapping stories and stop counting cocktails, it can happen. If you’re just going out for drinks, avoid this dating pitfall by eating a full meal ahead of time. Studies have shown that lean proteins with plenty of healthy fats (like salmon) slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Absorption and peak blood alcohol concentration after drinking beer, wine, or spirits. Mitchell MC, Teigen EL, Ramchandani VA. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 2014, Mar.;38(5):1530-0277.
2. Dark chocolate
When you find yourself with a case of pre-date jitters, reach for dark chocolate. It has long been lauded as a way to boost your mood, and researchers have found it can also lower stress levels. Cocoa polyphenols enhance positive mood states but not cognitive performance: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Pase MP, Scholey AB, Pipingas A. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 2013, Jan.;27(5):1461-7285.
Effects of dark chocolate consumption on the prothrombotic response to acute psychosocial stress in healthy men. von Känel R, Meister RE, Stutz M. Thrombosis and haemostasis, 2014, Sep.;112(6):0340-6245.
3. Green Tea
Before meeting up, sip on some green tea. Each cup is packed with catechins, molecules that have been found to boost energy. The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: a meta-analysis. Hursel R, Viechtbauer W, Dulloo AG. Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, 2011, Mar.;12(7):1467-789X. The tea will also help keep your breath fresh into the wee hours of the morning. Scientists have found that polyphenols—chemical compounds found in green tea—can prevent the growth of the bacteria that causes bad breath. Effect of green tea on volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air. Lodhia P, Yaegaki K, Khakbaznejad A. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology, 2008, Nov.;54(1):0301-4800.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are another great way to kick up your pre-date energy. A handful of roasted seeds has almost half of your daily recommended value for magnesium, a mineral that’s hugely important for energy production. Just stay away from the salted varieties, which can leave you feeling bloated and sluggish.
Turkey makes a great snack before a Netflix and chill night with your special someone. The lean meat is a great source of tryptophan, but don’t worry about snoozing mid date, unless you pair that turkey with more carbs than usual. Tryptophan does, however, trigger the production of serotonin, leaving you calm and ready to cuddle.
Leafy greens are great when they don’t end up stuck in your teeth. Skip the salad in favor of vegetables that are less prone to stick around after the meal is done. Reach for watery veggies like carrots, which actually help clear debris from your mouth and eliminate any lingering odors.
Avoiding garlic and the subsequent bad breath is obvious before a hot date. But to really stay stink-free, you need to steer clear for a few hours before meeting up. Garlic doesn’t just vanish after a stick of gum. This bad boy of bad breath gets absorbed into your bloodstream, meaning it can show up in your lungs and in your pores for a second wave of odor.
Thanks to the infamous nursery rhyme, we know beans aren’t just good for your heart, they’ll also lead to you stinking up a room. Another reason to pass over the bean dip: The indigestible sugars in legumes can leave you feeling bloated. Bean and rice meals reduce postprandial glycemic response in adults with type 2 diabetes: a cross-over study. Thompson SV, Winham DM, Hutchins AM. Nutrition journal, 2012, Apr.;11():1475-2891.
4. Artificial Sweeteners
Step away from any artificial sweeteners before seeing your sweetie. Much like beans, artificial sweeteners have indigestible sugars—a surefire recipe for bloating. Aspartame, the artificial sweetener found in Equal, has also been linked to lowered levels of serotonin and dopamine, which control your libido and happiness level. Effects of aspartame metabolites on astrocytes and neurons. Rycerz K, Jaworska-Adamu JE. Folia neuropathologica / Association of Polish Neuropathologists and Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, 2013, Dec.;51(1):1509-572X.
If all goes well, your mouth will be getting a lot of attention from your date. The last thing you want is a stained set of pearly whites, and blueberries have a nasty habit of turning your teeth and tongue a not-so-sexy shade of blue. But we don't want to completely shun the superfood. It's packed with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, so it's a great addition to your diet—just maybe not tonight.