We’re all about indulging once in a while — especially during the holiday season. Unfortunately, however, a night of too many glasses of (admittedly delicious) mulled wine can put a serious cramp in your style, leaving you feeling groggy, anxious, and depressed the next day.
First, the bad news: The only way to truly prevent a hangover is by (drumroll) not drinking too much. Typically that means one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, as recommended by the American Heart Association. That being said, there are a few things you can do before, during, and after a night of drinking to make the next day a little less painful.
Set yourself up for success.
If you know there’s a chance that you’ll be drinking too much, make sure your day is filled with all the right food and beverage choices. Since alcohol is inflammatory, nutritionist Tamar Samuels suggests eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
“Opt for matcha over coffee the day you’re planning on drinking,” says Samuels. “Add turmeric to your meals or have a golden milk latte the day of and/or after drinking. You can also try a high-quality curcumin supplement the day of drinking, and make sure to eat omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fatty fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts the day of drinking.”
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Water is perhaps the most famous antidote for a hangover, and for good reason. Alcohol dehydrates you, and water does exactly the opposite. Samuels suggests not only hydrating all day long, but hydrating while you’re drinking.
“Have one glass of water for every drink,” she says. “If you are drinking hard liquor, use club soda or water to increase your fluid intake. I’m a big fan of tequila and soda with fresh lime juice.”
There’s also no harm in loading up on electrolytes. “Have coconut water or add an all-natural electrolyte tablet or drops to water before bed and/or first thing in the morning after a night of drinking,” she suggests.
Choose the right types of alcohol.
All alcohol types are not created equal, and as a rule of thumb, you should always do your best to avoid sugary mixers if you don’t want to wake up with a nasty hangover the next day. Also, beware of certain types of alcohol that are deemed “healthy.”
“There is a compound in certain alcoholic drinks called congeners,” Samuels explains. “Congeners are chemical byproducts of fermentation that contribute to hangovers. Red wine and darker liquors are especially high in congeners, which can increase your risk of getting a hangover. Stick with clear spirits like tequila and vodka to decrease your congener intake.”
Use tricks that will decrease your overall alcohol intake.
Of course, drinking less is always an option — and there are little tricks you can use to do so without even noticing.
“Say no to shots — they have a high alcohol content and a low fluid volume which makes it easier to drink more,” suggests Samuels. “It’s also important to pace yourself and give yourself boundaries around how often you have a drink — for example, don’t have more than one drink per hour. Also, skip the straw! It will help you drink more slowly and it’s better for the environment.”
Take action before you go to sleep.
If you’ve ever fallen into bed in a drunken, spinny stupor, you know that’s a recipe for a nasty hangover. If you can force yourself to stay awake just a little longer, Samuels has a few suggestions for making the next day better.
“Try taking an all-natural activated charcoal capsule (or two) before you go to sleep after a night of drinking,” she says. “Activated charcoal binds to toxins and flushes them out of your system. Just be sure to avoid taking activated charcoal with other medications or supplements, as it decreases their absorption, too.”
Got all that? Great. Cheers to a fun, hangover-free holiday season!