Did you know that 23% of people that drink alcohol never experience hangovers? That leaves over 75% of people that do experience the consequences of too much wine, beer or spirits including nausea, fatigue and headache. I feel sick thinking about it! How can you prevent feeling like death the day after a party? Here are a few simple tips:
- Be moderate. Alcohol creates acetylaldehyde when metabolized, a toxin that’s linked with several types of cancer. Moderate alcohol intake for men is 2 drinks per day and for women, 1 drink/day. You know why? Men are typically bigger than us and have more body surface area to absorb alcohol. Binge drinking increases risk of several types of cancer, especially breast cancer in women, so limit to 3 drinks PER WEEK if your risk is high. Bottom line, the smaller you, the more susceptible you are to the effects of alcohol.
- Eat before you drink. Drinking on an empty stomach is a recipe for hangover. Alcohol gets absorbed much faster when you’ve got no vittles in your belly. Include some carbs from whole grain bread, pasta or crackers as well as protein from beans, lean meat, eggs or other source. Foods containing fat (such as cheese, nuts or oil) may also help slow the absorption of alcohol.
- Have a mocktail instead. Years ago when my friends and I were having babies but it was too early to let everyone in on the secret (those 12 weeks of the first trimester when some women miscarry), we’d have mocktails to fool our friends. There are loads of delightful seltzer and flavored waters out there to choose from that you can enjoy if you’re the designated driver or just taking a night off from drinking.
- Limit dark alcohol. Whiskey, bourbon, cognac and red wine contain substances called congeners, which are created when alcohol is fermented. Congeners slow alcohol metabolism, which means it sticks around in your system longer. This is why you may not feel as bad after drinking vodka or gin VS whiskey. The amount still matters, so continue to be moderate.
- Drink water before, during and after you’ve been drinking. Alcohol dehydrates you, which can lead to headaches, fatigue and nausea. Drink at least a liter of fluid (four, 8 oz cups) before you go out for the night and have a glass of water between cocktails to slow your intake down and stay hydrated.
- Keep peppermint on hand. This time of year, you may have some candy canes left over or peppermint tea in your pantry. Peppermint oil relaxes the stomach lining, which may help reduce nausea.
- Try gingerale or non-alcoholic ginger beer. Ginger has been used for centuries in pregnant women to reduce morning sickness and for travelers to reduce motion sickness. The combo of ginger and carbonation may help lessen nausea when you’ve had a few too many.
- Take a B complex vitamin before drinking. Your body loses B vitamins when you drink because alcohol is a diuetic. While there isn’t much research to support taking vitamins to prevent hangovers, they certainly can’t hurt. Chronic drinkers are commonly deficient in thiamine, folic acid and vitamin B 12. Others I’ve spoken with use Emergent C, an effervescent vitamin C tablet used to prevent colds.
- Consider not drinking. A clear head, less holiday weight gain, less money spent, and no risk for DUI are a few perks! Perhaps you’re the life of the party without the booze? Whatever you decide, be smart this holiday season.