Let’s just be honest, whatever our New Year’s Eve plans are, they will involve either drinking or late night celebrations – probably a lethal combination of both. It’s ironic that as we spend the night optimistically looking forward to the new year, we ensure that the first day of it will involve headaches, nausea, bad stomachs and general, liver damaged dread.
If you’re lucky to be young enough for a staunch resilience, then good for you (and enjoy it while it lasts), but for the rest of us, we should probably take some steps to try and minimize the celebratory fallout.
Disclaimer: we are not doctors, so take these pieces of advice with a pinch of salt (and a wedge of lime!)
The most important step really should come as no surprise – line your stomach. By now you should be sensible enough to know that the “if I get drunk faster, I won’t spend as much money” tactic is no longer acceptable. Avoid oily or salty foods to cut down on bloat or indigestion, but make sure you eat a good, filling meal before your epic night out. Your body is going to take a beating, both from alcohol consumption, but also lack of sleep, over-exertion and if you’re a touch Essex girl – overexposure to cold temperatures. Make sure to load up on things that will help offset the consequences of these elements as much as possible!
Get acquainted with milk thistle! This is a magical plant that is a natural remedy and supporter of liver health. You can buy it in the form of tablets or a tincture to mix with water and it’s a good idea to take it regularly in the run-up to the big night, and certainly after the fact. Milk thistle has many healthy properties and aside from promoting liver health, it’s also said to improve skin, bone health, lower cholesterol and boost the immune system – definitely handy things when planning a hardcore New Year’s Eve.
Turns out exercise and plenty of sleep can be good for you – who knew?! Apparently, working up a good sweat prior to a heavy night can help reduce the effects of a hangover. Your body will be energised and nicely oxygenated while cutting down on the desire to ‘go crazy’. A full night’s sleep is just good sense – odds are you won’t be getting much sleep on New Year’s Ever and what sleep you do get won’t be great, since you’ll have alcohol in your system, so make sure to get plenty of sleep on a couple of nights before – even throw in some naps if possible!
Ever heard of congeners? Nope, neither have we, but turns out they can massively contribute to the severity of a hangover. Congeners are a by-product of the fermentation process and it is thought they can contribute some unique flavours to drinks like wine and whisky. The general rule of thumbs is that clear liquors contain significantly less congeners than dark ones, so it’s advisable to stick to vodka, gin or light beer – well, obviously the best advice is to minimise or abstain altogether, but if you want to be conscious of your intake and after-effects, that’s a handy rule to follow.
Another obvious rule, but often forgotten – hydration. Interestingly, you don’t want to over do it, because too much water can also put a strain on your system, but you need to make sure you get plenty of water in your system so the effects of alcohol aren’t as severe. An easy and effective way to both hydrate and space yourself is to follow a “one on, one-off” rhythm on your night out. What we mean by that is – have an alcoholic drink, then have a glass of water, then an alcoholic drink, then a glass of water. If water is too dull for you, then at least go for a virgin cocktail. You won’t drink as much, you won’t spend as much, and you’ll be doing your body a tremendous favour!
Well, once it’s happened, it’s happened. If you wake up and you feel rotten, it’s too late to be sensible, but we can take some steps toward damage control.
Step one, once again, is good old hydration. But not just any old hydration. Your body will be craving electrolytes, so your best bets are coconut water, watermelon water or fruit smoothies, milk or if all that is too much effort or distasteful – sports drinks or electrolyte-infused water.
Avoid inflammatories. One of the reasons you feel like hell during a hangover is because alcohol cause inflammation in the body. So step one – don’t make the inflammation worse. So no sugar, no carbs, no trans fats or processed foods – which is asking a lot, considering that’s what most hungover people crave the most, but try to resist! Opt for bananas, eggs, fruit, crackers, oatmeal, avocados and black coffee. Basically, a good breakfast! Just remember that caffeine is a diuretic, so if you’ll be having coffee, make sure to drink plenty of water as well.
On the topic of inflammation, there are natural foods that help lower it. Ginger, turmeric or green tea are ideal. Berries, nuts, avocados and fatty, oily fish are also natural anti-inflammatories, so basically, upgrade your good breakfast to an uber-healthy, pretentious breakfast! If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, then pineapple – rich in bromelain – or dark chocolate are the best ways to go.
Bottom line is, power through the day as best as you can, but try and imbibe as much of the good stuff as you can (and probably stock up on sturdy toilet paper). Use the day for a truly honest moment of self-reflection and hopefully the gut-wrenching gross feeling will put you off booze for at least a couple of weeks and spur you on to commit to that gym membership you promised yourself you’d start…