The holidays are the best time for fun, parties, and of course that comes with drinking. We all love to have a good time, but no one wants the hangover that comes with it.
Who has time for headaches, nausea, and unbearable fatigue the entire next day?
While the only definitive way to avoid a hangover is to skip alcohol, we’ve rounded up 7 science-backed strategies to help ease those holiday hangover symptoms this year.
1. Try a B Vitamin Supplement Before Having Some Drinks
Since alcohol depletes the body’s vitamin stores, a pre-game supplement isn’t a half-bad idea.
A small study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that participants whose food and drinks contained greater amounts of B vitamins and zinc had less severe hangovers.
So, it doesn’t hurt to pop a vitamin B complex before drinking to help with those dreaded hangover symptoms. A complex pill contains B1, B2, folic acid, B6, and the real star, B12, which helps boost energy production and decrease lethargy.
2. Don’t Forget the Water
You’ve probably heard this a million times—and that’s because it’s true! It’s so easy to forget about drinking water when you’re having a good time, but it’s important to make it a priority.
Here’s the reason: Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes you to pee more frequently, causing dehydration.
If you wake up the morning after drinking with a dry mouth, headache, and insatiable thirst, dehydration is likely to blame!
Your best bet for preventing dehydration (and the effects that come with it) is to drink water before, during, and after you drink alcohol.
3. Take it Easy on the Congeners
You may have heard of ethanol, the main ingredient in alcohol. Ethanol contains varying amounts of congeners that give alcoholic drinks their taste and flavor—and certain drinks contain more than others.
While not the sole cause, research suggests that congeners can increase the severity of hangover symptoms. A rule of thumb to remember: The lighter the drink, the less congeners it contains since it’s not as heavily distilled.
Drinks high in congeners include:
- Bourbon whiskey (the biggest culprit)
Drinks low in congeners include:
- White wine
- Light rum
- Light beer
Avoiding the dark stuff as much as possible may help you feel less miserable the day after!
4. Remember to Eat Before Drinking
If you wait until the drunk munchies hit, it’ll be too late to help prevent a hangover. (And you’re more likely to grab unhealthy foods, too.)
Here’s the deal: When you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, alcohol passes quickly into your small intestine. Food in the stomach helps prevent this, so alcohol is absorbed more slowly.
Drinking on an empty stomach can also increase the effects of alcohol, and you’ll end up drunk much faster than you intend to be.
The best foods to eat before a night of drinking should be a mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. A Registered Dietician from Johns Hopkins University provides some examples to help you out, including:
- A burger with sweet potato fries
- An egg and cheese sandwich
- A tofu bowl with rice and veggies
- A bean burrito with cheese and vegetables
- Salmon with rice and asparagus
5. Skip the “Hair of the Dog” the Next Day
The day after drinking, many rely on the “hair of the dog,” or drinking alcohol to help your hangover—but it does more harm than good.
Sure, it may be a temporary fix in helping you feel better, but all it’s doing is masking or delaying your hangover symptoms. Basically, you’re delaying the inevitable.
She explains that when your hangover symptoms do return, they could be even more severe. The best thing you can do is avoid alcohol together the day after a bender.
6. Don’t Rely on a Greasy Food Cure
Contrary to popular belief, greasy food doesn’t actually help cure your hangover. The reason? By that point, the alcohol has already been digested and processed by your body, so there’s nothing left for all that greasy food to absorb. (And it may end up just making you feel worse.)
Your hangover is likely due to dehydration and low blood sugar, so you’ll need to balance it out with protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Keep it simple! For breakfast, try a couple of eggs, whole-wheat toast or bagel with sliced bananas, or an omelet with veggies. And, of course, remember plenty of water. (As much as you can stand!)
If you’re feeling extra nauseous, stick to the BRAT diet—bananas, rice, apples, and toast. These foods can help give you some energy without upsetting your stomach even more.
7. Pace Yourself
Pacing yourself is key! Your body can only metabolize about one drink per hour. That’s one beer, glass of wine, shot, or mixed drink.
It’s relatively simple: the faster you drink, the drunker you’ll get and the worse you’ll feel the next day. Consuming alcohol at a moderate pace can help prevent a more severe hangover.
53 Best Weight Loss Snacks
To keep you from going crazy with calories even when the saltiest of cravings hit, my team and I rounded up our best weight-loss snack recipes that are super easy to throw together.
And when you don’t have time or you’re on the go, we also made a list of our favorite healthy purchased snacks too!
Sugar Detox: How To Quit Sugar In 6 Steps
It’s hard to find the best way to quit sugar when it’s in so many of our foods! That’s why it’s important to cut back in a smart, sustainable way since doing it cold turkey can be pretty jarring for your body.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the sugar basics, why you crave it, and how to quit sugar without making yourself totally miserable.
Best Mocktails | Hangover-Free and Healthy
Maybe you’re taking a break from alcohol or looking for cocktail alternatives. Either way, a mocktail can be a delicious and satisfying drink if you want to be alcohol-free!
The mocktails here are made using whole ingredients, natural sweeteners, and often fermented foods and superfoods. They taste like cocktails, but you aren’t left with a dreaded hangover.