There’s no question about it, the festive season is a boozy time of year. Even the most abstemious among us can be persuaded to raise a glass of eggnog to toast Christmas or a flute of champagne to see in the New Year.
For those who indulge a little more than that, the usual advice holds true – drink plenty of water to make sure you stay hydrated, remember to eat, and if you’re driving, keep within the legal blood-alcohol limits, or better yet, leave the car at home.
And if you’re determined to celebrate the festive season with plenty of alcohol, be prepared for the morning after.
“Eat before you drink,” advised nutritionist Andrea Hill.” Hangovers are a definite if you’re drinking on an empty stomach. Eat a meal that contains a blend of carbs, protein and fat to slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream.
“Have a few extra glasses of water before you go out, and intersperse a few non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night. “
Everyone seems to have their own favourite hangover cure. If you do a Google search for “hangover cures that work”, you’ll find more than half a million sites, articles and Web pages devoted to it.
Throughout the world, since the dawn of, if not time, then wine, people have sought ways of imbibing with impunity and escaping the inevitable pounding head, queasy stomach and fatigue the next day brings.
Germans eat pickled herrings to help them get rid of a hangover, while in Poland, sour pickle juice is considered a decent cure.
In Ireland and England, a “fry-up” of eggs, rashers, fried potatoes, black pudding, baked beans and toast is considered by many as the ultimate cure.
“This one is a big question mark, but eggs (which are typically part of the “fry up” breakfast) are a good source of cysteine, an amino acid that helps the body break down acetaldehyde thought to be partly responsible for causing hangovers,” said Ms Hill.
Some people find the Vitamin C in orange juice, or a combination of vitamins in effervescent tablets like Redoxon or Berocca, makes them feel better, and others – those hardy souls who possess the seemingly superhuman abilities – say exercising kicks the hangover into submission.
Despite dive instruction manuals stating it is not advisable to drink the night before diving, many divers swear that a dive will cure even the worst hangover. All that oxygen, you know.
Water is an obvious cure-all. Since dehydration is a major part of what makes a drinker feel so terrible next day, drinking a few glasses of water before going to bed can help on that score. You can also rehydrate and replace electrolytes by downing a bottle of Gatorade or other sports drinks.
It might be tempting to swallow a few painkillers to help cure what ails you, but be aware that aspirin, ibuprofen and other pain relievers can irritate your stomach and make your liver work harder – it’s already hard at work trying to process all that alcohol you consumed the night before, so give your poor liver a break.
And then there’s the hair of the dog that bit you. A Bloody Mary, made of tomato juice, vodka and Worchester sauce, or the Canadian-version Caesar, made of Clamata, vodka and Worchester sauce, is filled not just the vodka that tops up your alcohol level and makes you feel better, but also crammed with vitamins and nutrients.
Some people insist a shot of whiskey or vodka the morning after is the best and fastest way to cure a hangover, but the hair of the dog leads to the road to alcoholism, so it’s really not the most advisable option.
“Drinking any type of alcohol after a night of drinking is only going to force your liver to continue processing toxins; so while a morning cocktail may seem to improve hangover symptoms it only delays the inevitable,” warned Ms Hill.
If all else fails, it’s sometimes best to just admit defeat, go back to bed and sleep it off.
Of course, the best, absolutely proven, undeniable, sure-fire way to prevent a hangover is not to drink and to toast the new year with a glass of sparkling mineral water – but what fun would that be?
Dehydration is one of the reasons you feel awful the day after drinking. Immersing your head in water might or might not help!