It’s that time of the year again. The weather’s perfect and the parties that start at brunch last all the way till breakfast the next day. You start with a few G&Ts, moving on to wine in the afternoon, spirits at night, and wrap it all up with a champagne breakfast. It’s no wonder then that the festive season is as synonymous with mega-hangovers as it is with chocolates and confetti. While everyone has their own special concoction to beat the hangover (the Romans did it with deep-fried canaries), just a few simple steps will work wonderfully to prevent the heavy hammering in your head the morning after.
This festive season we got two experts—Ritika Samaddar, head, dietetics, Max Healthcare, New Delhi, and Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Apollo Indraprastha Hospital, New Delhi—to give suggestions on how to prevent and cure a hangover.
Water works: Keep the body hydrated after a party.
Eat before you leave
We all know that drinking on an empty stomach makes the alcohol work faster. But drinking on an empty stomach is also a sure-fire way to be hung over the next morning. Line your stomach with a light meal an hour before you leave. That way your body will have the right mix of nutrients instead of pure alcohol, diluting the after-effects of the drink. There is no fixed pre-alcohol diet, just make sure the food you eat is fresh, light and healthy.
Don’t drink neat
Our experts say that it is easier to get a hangover if you have alcohol neat because the spirits go to the bloodstream directly and hit the liver faster. This means that your liver will work harder for a longer period if you keep downing vodka neat. Instead, dilute your drinks with water or soda and keep snacking alongside to keep a balance of nutrients in your body. Since alcohol is diuretic, it dehydrates the body very fast. It’s also essential to keep optimum water levels in the system by drinking a glass of water between drinks. Wine and beer are lesser evils compared to spirits since beer is hydrating and wine is packed with antioxidants.
Don’t sleep on an empty stomach
You’re hardly chipper enough to rustle up something to eat when you come home from a night out on town. But experts suggest that eating some carbohydrates or anything light, such as a couple of biscuits, a toast or even a banana, can help reduce the morning-after mayhem. Carbohydrates are easy to digest so they won’t stress your already tortured liver, and by eating something you will prevent your body from absorbing the left-over alcohol in your system.
Wake up to water
This is something there is unanimity on. To overcome that parched, dehydrated feeling, chug a bottle of water straight up. Sip on lemonade, coconut water, juices, but avoid tea and coffee as these can dehydrate your body further.
The right breakfast
It’s important to eat a healthy breakfast, although not as lavish as most people may imagine. A fry-up (several fried foods served together, such as eggs and sausages) the morning after is touted as a cure for the morning-after in Britain but it may have adverse effects. While fatty foods prevent the absorption of alcohol in the system, they may also increase acidity in people already suffering from gastrointestinal problems. In fact, it is best to avoid anything heavy since the liver is still recovering from processing the alcohol. The best breakfast is simple and light, with a good balance between carbohydrates and protein, like toast with a glass of milk or toast with an omelette.
Many people are in the habit of popping a Brufen or paracetamol to cure a hangover. These belong to a group of drugs called non-steroid anti-inflammation drugs (NSAIDs). These, especially Brufen, are not routinely recommended because they can aggravate gastroenteritis. However, if the banging in your head gets unbearable, pop a paracetamol (which has fewer side effects) to reduce the heaviness. Take one with the morning-after breakfast for best results to keep the symptoms down, but don’t make this a habit.
At the end of the day, the idea is to have fun in the festive season. Modify your habits, eat healthy food, drink moderately and most importantly, know when to stop. You don’t need a complicated concoction to keep your body healthy and mind clear—follow these simple steps and you can celebrate all you want without a hangover in sight.
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