How to dodge your holiday hangover
Words— Kate Dingwall
Chances are, this holiday season you're going to be pouring yourself a celebratory drink. You have vacation days left! You're spending time with your family! 2018 is finally over! Wine makes your Uncle's political commentary more bearable! There are hundreds of reasons to raise a glass and toast to whatever. But having a few revelatory drinks comes with the inevitable headaches and joint pains that hangovers bring.
Where do hangovers come from? When you drink, your body converts the methanols in alcohol into formaldehyde which, we shouldn’t have to tell you, is bad. It’s a diuretic, toxic, and the cause of that dizziness, the anxiety, the headaches, the tiredness and the thirst that a stage 5 hangover can bring.
As you grow older, the enzymes in your body that break down alcohols start declining, which is why your body isn’t bouncing back the way it used to. Because we are not as bouncy and youthful the day after as we used to be, we went ahead and gathered our favorite hangover tips to surviving the holiday season. Yes, there is the obvious don’t drink so much but beyond that, here’s how to brace yourself.
- First Thing is First: Get Your Game Plan in Order: Set your mind on what you’re going to be drinking through the night. Don’t get distracted by the colorful cocktail the guy at the end of the bar is drinking or the call of “shots”.
- Pick Your Sip: Your best bet is clear spirits, like vodka, gin, and Sake, as your body can process them quicker thanks to the fewer congeners (a substance created during fermentation). If wine is your vice, the general rule of thumb is the lighter, the easier on your hangover. The tannins in wines can cause headaches, and tannins are more present in full-bodied reds. Although, cheaper wines add tannins during the manufacturing process to fake depth.
- Snack Time: Before you start pouring, double up your multivitamins. As many hangovers cause stress and inflammation, increasing the number of oxidants in your body will deter this. Multivitamins in mind, also keep up your carbs, your protein, and fat pre-drinking. Burgers! Red meat! It will help you tone down the severity and help your body process that alcohol.
During the Party
- Skip the sugars: Bubbly is all well and good, so is that coca-cola you use to cut down your rum, but the inherent sugars in these drinks will come back to bite you tomorrow. Sugary beverages cause you to bloat and absorb alcohol more quickly, resulting in faster dehydration.
- Splurge on your booze: It will make a world of difference. Yes, we know, it’s expensive, but the top shelf liquors are made with fewer toxins and more filtration than their cheaper alternatives. While it costs more per drink, less of a hangover means you’re less likely to blow your money on ordering a greasy breakfast on UberEats (don’t say we told you so!).
- Just Keep Moving: Surprising advice? Don’t go to sleep. Keep on dancing or say yes to that last game of beer pong. When your body slows down enough to pass out, your body slows down metabolizing the alcohol which means, you’re not moving it out of your symptom as quickly. Stay up, drink your water and eat your snacks. Though avoid the carbs - while ordering up an XL poutine seems like a great idea (and trust us, we really want to back you on this) you’re just loading up your body with more excessive carbs (alcohol is carbs!). We know your drunk self will disagree, but try out proteins or, dare we say, veggies.
- Please Hydrate: And before you lay yourself down to sleep, leave future you a big ol’ glass of water and a few ibuprofen or two.
How the hell did you get in this mess? So, you forgot to follow step one and two and you’re left with a world of hurt. Well, we hope you had a grand night. But consequences are consequences, and with that in mind, there are a few things you can do to ease your suffering.
- HYDRATE, PLEASE: First of all, steady water is key. Alcohol will dehydrate you, and while this is only a portion of the effects of alcohol, rehydrating your body is key (though a few doses of Ibuprofen will help as well). Although, while dehydration is a byproduct of drinking, it is not the cause of the hangover. Water is great, but it won’t completely subside a hangover.
- Skip the Hair of the Dog: You may be tempted to have a little hair of the dog. While this yes, will ease your pain, you’re only prolonging the inevitable. One beer now means you’re delaying the hammer that a hangover is going to throw down on you. While green tea might seem like the reciprocal, herbal teas can provoke your body to slow down processing alcohol, leaving a longer hangover. Water, guys!
- Skip the Diner: Load up on foods that will restore your body with the vitamins it needs. Eggs are full of cysteine, which can relieve headaches. While greasy diner breakfasts may seem revelatory, your stomach will disagree. Lean towards lighter foods that will be kind on the damage you’ve done to your stomach. Coffee probably sounds like a great idea, but coffee is a diuretic and narrows blood vessels, so it may make that pounding a little louder.
First of all, let’s set our expectations. While you can try your gosh darn best, hangovers sometimes are inevitable. You’ve already gotten yourself into this mess, so remember it could be worse. Don’t make plans the morning after your night out, you’ll be no fun to anyone. Accept a day relishing in your hangover. Make a dent in those trashy Netflix movies you’ve been curious about. Eat some deliciously decadent foods in honor of a fun night out with friends. After all, it’s the holidays and you’re off duty.
Kate Dingwall is a New York-based writer and cocktail expert, Check out more pieces from her. (A short guide to bottled-in-bond whiskey, A guide to good non-alcoholic drinks, 10 things you need for your home bar & Obscure booze: Amaro, Cachaça, Pisco & Pastis explained) and others in the Culture & Lifestyle section.