First, an obvious tip that I feel obligated to emphasize: the best way to cure a hangover is to avoid one altogether. Sure, indulging in a few drinks can be fun, but it’s even more fun if you wake up feeling normal and ready to start the next day. So, a few tips on how to avoid a hangover in the first place:
- Drink moderately and slowly. Duh, I know. But while you’re drinking, think about the pleasure you’re getting from each sip. Drink a nice glass of wine, a good microbrew, or your favorite cocktail, so you’re more focused on the taste than the quantity.
- Drink water between drinks. Sometimes, just holding a drink in your hand makes you drink more. Alternating cocktails with water will help slow you down, and will keep you hydrated so your body is more able to process alcohol.
- Eat before you drink. A full stomach will help slow the absorption of alcohol, and the feeling of being full will prevent you from drinking too much simply because you only have so much room in your stomach.
- Don’t drink when you’re stressed, sad, mad, etc. Drinking for emotional reasons will lead to out-of-control behavior. De-stress via other methods before you opt for a cocktail.
What to try when you’re hungover…
- Hit the gym. The body rids itself of alcohol and its byproducts in only four ways: by breathing, via the liver and kidneys, and by sweating. Working out speeds your breathing, increases sweating, and moves blood through the liver and kidneys more quickly. This may be the last thing you feel like doing, but it’s your best bet.
- Eat small, balanced meals throughout the day. Binging on a greasy breakfast will only make you feel worse, as your blood sugar will skyrocket and then drop. Instead, eat something small in the morning, like a piece of toast with honey and an egg. Drink lots of water, then a couple hours later have another small snack, like fruit with yogurt or some nuts. The important thing here is that you’re getting a mix of complex carbs and protein, and eating small bits frequently, to help get your blood sugar back on track.
- Drink plenty of water. You can also have some diluted Gatorade, which may be appealing if you’re nauseous, and diluted juice. Since water helps process alcohol in the body, getting re-hydrated will speed your recovery.
- Take a dose of ibuprofen or Alka-Seltzer. Either of these anti-inflammatory meds may ease some of your symptoms so you can start moving around, eating, and re-hydrating. Just make sure to stick to the recommended dosage.
What NOT to do when you’re hungover…
- Eat a huge, greasy breakfast. This will send your blood sugar sky high, which means you’ll crash later and feel awful. A big meal will also make nausea worse.
- Drink coffee. There’s nothing terrible about drinking coffee when you’re hungover, but it won’t help your symptoms and will make it harder to rehydrate. Stick to caffeine-free beverages, and if you must have coffee, limit it to one cup.
- Have some “hair of the dog.” Whatever you do, avoid drinking more alcohol. You may think it’s making you feel better, but eventually, you’ll be back where you started, but with more alcohol to absorb and more unpleasant symptoms from which you have to recover.
Wondering how drinking alcohol can fit into a healthy lifestyle? Start here.