Everyone celebrates the New Year holiday differently. Some take on the hottest bars and clubs on December 31; others throw their biggest house parties. The more exciting folk huddle under heated blankets and order in Chinese takeout while their neighbors cook up elaborate dinner parties. It is clear that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to ringing in one year and saying goodbye to another, but although everyone is in different company when the ball drops in Times Square at 12:00 a.m., there is one common tradition that New Year’s revelers share almost everywhere: most are partaking in at least a little bit of bubbly.
One glass of champagne is unlikely to give you a pounding headache on the first day of 2014, but many more will, and there are more than a few merrymakers this week who are already anticipating the dehydration-induced hangover that is destined to produce itself just as the New Years’s sparkle fades off and reality sets in. Imbibers know what’s coming for them on New Year’s Eve when they enjoy drink after drink, glass after glass, but that doesn’t make the headache any more dull the next day, when they are wishing they had either eaten more, drunken less, or c. all of the above.
So if you happen to be one of those many Americans who plan to celebrate the New Year in style this Tuesday, but would love to avoid the consequences of your boozy actions on the first day of January, we have just the list of tips for you. We can’t guarantee that you’ll wake from your News Year’s slumber regret free — but if you employ these sure-fire tricks, you may get lucky enough to wake up hangover free.
1. Go drink for drink (with water)
This tip is one that you’ve likely heard time and time again, but that’s because it is arguably the most important one. Everyone knows that drinking alcohol causes dehydration, but perhaps understanding some of the science behind the dehydrating mechanism will help you remember to keep your second glass filled with water. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes you urinate more, leading to dehydration. Brown University Health Education explains that the tissues around the brain are made mostly of water; therefore, dehydration induced by alcohol causes these tissues to shrink, and creates pressure in the head. Hence, the pounding headache.
It is hard to completely avoid dehydration when imbibing large amount of alcohol, but if you can remember to drink at least one glass of water with one serving of alcohol, you’re helping your chances of keeping those tissues hydrated and avoiding the morning-after feeling. In addition, alternating alcoholic beverages with glasses of water can help you control how much alcohol you drink and how fast you do it. As aforementioned, alcohol dehydrates you, so as the night progresses, you get more thirsty. You therefore might be tempted to reach for your next drink just as you set down your current one, but if you reach for your water glass first instead, you’ll likely be in better shape the next morning. Keeping a belly full of water also slows the rate at which you can overdo it with alcohol. More bathroom trips equals less time to go shot-for-shot with your competitive drinking buddy, and more time the next day to enjoy a hangover-free morning.
2. Eat Before You Drink
Another given: don’t drink on any empty stomach. Mostly everyone understands that drinking without eating spells nothing but doom for the next day, but what you eat is also important too, and that’s where we’ve got you covered. If you’ve ever heard someone say that having a spoonful of olive oil before drinking helps a hangover, there’s actually a method before his or her madness. Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D. explains via Mens Fitness, ”Fatty foods in particular stick to the stomach lining longer, slowing down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.”
That’s where the olive oil comes in. The fat in the oil will limit your body’s absorption of alcohol and will help you ultimately fight the post-booze blues by keeping alcohol absorption at bay. Unsurprisingly, though, not everyone is interested in downing a tablespoon of oil before a night on the town, so in that case, other fatty foods can do the job, too. Shames says to go for heart-healthy good fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, and avocados. Food choices she recommends include salmon; vegetables cooked with olive oil; salad with chicken, vegetables, and an olive oil-based dressing; a turkey sandwich with avocado for healthy fats.
3. Go Light and Make an Investment for Your Liver
So, now you’re hydrated and fed, and you’re ready for your first drink. If you’re planning on driving in the hangover-free lane this New Year’s, consciously decide to avoid the dark drinks throughout the night, and also avoid mixing. According to Greatist.com, darker drinks like red wine or rum contain congeners, the particulates in spirits that give them their deep color. Congeners are a byproduct of some types of fermentation, and these substances are the pesky little things that contribute to causing hangovers. The drinks with the most congeners include red wine, brandy, bourbon, dark rum, and whiskey. That’s why it helps to choose white over red, and hand over the rum for the vodka, regardless of your preferences.
In addition, more expensive liquors contain less filler congeners, so that glass of white wine might be less tasty than the red, and it might be hard to pick the more expensive Chardonnay over the cheap stuff, but it’ll help your cause for the next morning, even though it won’t help your bank account.
4. Go Easy on the Champagne
Onto the champagne blame game. It’s New Year’s, we know. No one is expecting you to forgo your 12 a.m. glass of bubbly, but all we’re saying is, there’s a way to drink your bubbly and enjoy it too — you just have to practice moderation.
The problem with champagne is the exact thing that lands it its trademark name: those bubbles. Researcher Dr. Ian Calder of the National Hospital for Neurosurgery explains via Beekman Wines and Liquors that any alcohol with bubbles is a special hazard because the drink’s bubbles put the alcohol into your bloodstream more quickly. The faster the alcohol enters your bloodstream, the harder it is for the liver to metabolize and keep up, and your dear head will be paying the price in just a few hours, don’t you worry. So go easy on the champagne, even on New Year’s. Sure, the drink is fun but it is even more fun when enjoyed in moderation. Trust us on this one.
5. Locate the Nearest Source of Potassium the Morning After
Following the big night, there are also things that can be done the next morning to get your head cleared and your stomach feeling back to normal. Not only do you lose water when you drink, you also lose electrolytes too, so once you wake up, make sure to refuel these compounds in your bloodstream by eating potassium-rich foods such as bananas or spinach. The leafy vegetable might not exactly fulfill your biggest craving on the morning after a crazy night, but it will refill your electrolyte tank and get you back on your feet faster.
While we’re on the subject of the dreaded morning after, as you sit at the breakfast table and snack on your bananas or spinach (smoothie, anyone?) NetDoctor.co says that you should also focus on doing something about that lack of sugar in your blood. Alcohol leads to a drop in blood sugar, which is also what makes you so ravenously hungry the day after a big night, but instead of going for the fatty breakfast sandwiches you are convinced your body is asking for, try something new and go down the healthy route. Yes, it is important to refuel and refresh those blood sugar levels, but doing it via the greasy diner breakfast route isn’t necessarily the best way to go. Unless, of course, you’re planning on ordering fruit juice or a smoothie at said diner.
Fruit is chock full of vitamin C, which helps your liver process alcohol, so if you can remember to drink a big glass of OJ in the morning, you’ll be taking advantage of one of the quickest ways to get your blood sugar back up to the normal levels. Netdoctor.co also says not to go for fatty foods the next day because digesting fat will put extra strain on your already stressed digestive system. Your best bet is trying to get down scrambled eggs on toast or toast with honey.
Lastly, something you are really not going to want to hear. Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do on a day where you feel like you can barely lift your head, but many sources say that it is actually one of the best things you can do the day after a night of drinking to help ward off those lingering hangover pains. Exercise not only gets your body moving and your blood pumping, it also takes your mind off your aches and pains. According to Greatist, working out outside is especially helpful because oxygen increases the rate that alcohol toxins are broken down, and you know what they say about exercise and endorphins…
On the other hand, you can also avoid cardio and instead go the yoga route in order to get your oxygen flowing, blood pumping, and your stress relieved. Laying on the couch nursing a hangover might seem like the better option, but no one ever regrets a workout, even though he or she sometimes regrets a night out.