The countdown to New Year’s Eve is on which means that New Year’s Eve party you’ve been planning or planning to attend is just around that corner. What else does that mean? Well, if you’re like most of us, that means you’re also preparing to have a not so enjoyable hangover come New Year’s Day. Of course, the whole mess can easily be avoided by just choosing to abstain from the heavy drinking but that’s not always as easy as it sounds. New Year’s Eve is a night to let your hair down and let loose. If that means imbibing perhaps a little too much, this is an article you need to read.
What is a Hangover?
Hangovers are your body’s way of punishing you for punishing it the night before. Hangovers come with all sorts of fun symptoms including but not limited to:
- Upset stomach
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Loss of appetite
There are many scientific reasons behind why people get hangovers but I’ll spare you the details. Basically it all comes down to one simple fact – alcohol screws with your body in a pretty big way. It causes your brain to block certain chemicals from being released. It causes dehydration. It does a number of nasty things to your body and the hangover you get is the result of those nasty things.
While it sounds like it’s all bad news, it really isn’t. Well, perhaps it is but it at least means there are things you can do to counteract the negative effects of alcohol before or after you drink to prevent or reduce the severity of a hangover or things you can do to treat a hangover if you didn’t think ahead.
Again, there is no better way to prevent a hangover than to not drink at all but if that just doesn’t fit in with your New Year’s Eve plans, you can take steps before you start drinking to prevent your hangover or reduce the severity of it as well as steps you can take before bed – nothing complicated, I promise – to accomplish the same goal. Let’s look at some of those options.
Eat something before you start drinking.
Eating a decent meal before you start drinking is a great way to prevent a hangover. Don’t rely on the host or hostess of the part you’ll be attending to provide the food you need either. Eat breakfast, eat a decent lunch and eat a light dinner the day of the party to make sure you have food in your stomach before the alcohol gets there. Your hangover will be much, much worse if you decide to drink on an empty stomach. Fatty foods or fried foods are a great option for a pre-party dinner. Fatty foods coat the stomach lining and act to reduce how quickly the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Stay hydrated before and after you drink.
A friend of mine once suggested mixing drinks with a healthy dose of water or alternating between alcoholic beverages and glasses of water over the course of the evening. It works and it works well. Alternatively, drink a few glasses of water before you start drinking – perhaps with your dinner – and drink a few glasses of water before bed. One of the key culprits behind nasty hangovers is dehydration. Alcohol doesn’t hydrate but dehydrates. Water is a great way to counteract that effect. If you go into a party already dehydrated and don’t replenish those precious fluids after the party, you’ll pay for it in the morning. By getting help for alcoholics many people with drinking problems have successfully given up alcohol and are now leading new lives without it.
Take a good multivitamin.
Multivitamins offer a great line of defense against hangovers. You’ll be helping your body build up its defenses and prepare for the night ahead before the first sip of alcohol even passes your lips. The benefit of that one is clear. Take two more before bed and two more in the morning and your hangover will either be greatly diminished or eliminated entirely, depending on how much you indulge at the party.
Get some sleep.
Get a good night’s sleep before the party and try to take it easy on the day of the party. If you have time, try to slip in a nap somewhere during the day. Being well rested before you hit up the big party is a great way to take some of the bite out of your post-bash pain. It’s also important to remember that for some, sleep can be a bit difficult when a hangover comes to call. Getting the sleep you need the night before can help with that as well.
Hangover Prevention: During the Party
Sure you can prepare yourself for a night of drinking before your New Year’s Eve party but there are also lots of things you can do during the party to stave off a nasty hangover the next morning. Taking care of your body during the party is one of the best ways to fight off your hangover before it even starts.
Don’t overexert yourself.
Dancing is a lot of fun but if you’re drinking heavily and cutting a rug all night, your hangover is going to be far worse in the morning. If you’re a big fan of dancing and a big fan of drinking, you should also become a big fan of water for all of the reasons listed above. Instead of grabbing your drink after you step off the dance floor, switch it up for a glass of water or two. You’ll still be able to get your drink on and show off your dance moves but you’ll be significantly reducing how much pain you’ll be in come New Year’s Day.
Stick to one type of alcohol.
Pick your poison and stick with it. Different types of alcohol may have different effects on the body. Avoid mixing and matching. If you feel like scotch and soda, stick with scotch and soda all night. If you’re in the mood for beer, stick with beer. Although trying other drinks can be a fun way to liven up the night, it’s also a fun way to give yourself a nasty hangover.
Listen to your body.
This one is probably the hardest of all to do because it means actually putting down the drink even if you don’t really want to. When you start feeling that nauseated feeling in the pit of your stomach, it’s time to either stop entirely or slow down a bit. If you’re not ready to call it quits on the bottle for the night, switch to water, soda or juice for a drink or two. Over drinking can be very toxic and you will probably need to cleanse and alcohol detox your body after a very heavy drinking day. Have a little something to eat. Relax for a bit before you pour your next drink. Your liver will thank you for thinking of it with a less severe hangover the next day.
Treating a Hangover – The Myths
If prevention just wasn’t enough and you find yourself with a hangover anyway, there are some great treatments out there for hangovers that can help ease the symptoms and relieve a bit of the pain. There are also a lot of myths when it comes to hangover remedies out there – some put off the inevitable, some do nothing and some will make the situation worse. Let’s take a look at what works and what doesn’t. Let’s start with the myths.
Fatty foods will help you before you start drinking but will actually make things worse after. You’ve probably heard a big plateful of fried food will help settle an upset stomach but that isn’t the case at all. In fact, for many people, fatty foods will only serve to further irritate the stomach. Instead, choose something like a fruit smoothie or a light salad to counteract the negative effects of the booze you consumed. It will help you far more.
The “Hair of the Dog”
Drinking more of what got you into the situation you’re in isn’t going to help you at all. The hair of the dog is merely a band-aid on the problem and will only serve to delay your hangover instead of treating it. I know a lot of people that swear by this method but not only does it just delay the symptoms, it will result in a much worse hangover once you decide to stop drinking. This one is fiction, folks – pure and simple.
Black coffee can help, but only temporarily and only with some aspects of the hangover. The obvious benefit of black coffee for a hangover is the energy boost it offers. It also helps with the hangover headache as caffeine reduces the size of blood vessels and therefore reduces the pressure that causes the pounding in the head. The problem with black coffee is that it caffeine is also a diuretic which basically means it makes you more dehydrated. Once that initial cup wears off, you’re going to feel more tired that you would’ve without the coffee and that headache may come roaring back. It might be enough to get you through the work day if you’re unlucky enough to have to work through a hangover but make sure you have time to go to bed as soon as you get home.
I’m not entirely sure where this one comes from. Perhaps it originates from the fact that activated charcoal (a type of carbon) is sometimes used to treat poisonings and hangovers are basically the after effects of a poisoning. The theory is that carbon in toast is similar to the activated charcoal used to treat some forms of poisoning. The truth though is that the carbon in burnt toast is not the same as the activated charcoal used to treat poisonings and that type of charcoal isn’t even used to treat alcohol poisoning. This one is a myth all around.
Treating a Hangover – The Facts
So now that we know what doesn’t work for treating hangovers, why don’t we get started on what does? I’m just going to stick to the basics. There are a lot of super complicated hangover remedies out there that offer varying degrees of success but let’s keep things a little more simple.
Choose the right food.
One of the simplest and most effective hangover remedies is a good, light breakfast that cuts out the grease and fat. Try a breakfast that includes some of the following items:
- Eggs (boiled, not friend or scrambled)
- Fruit juice
- Lemon or lime
- Raw cabbage (helps a whole lot with the headache but make sure you eat it raw)
- Tomato juice
Don’t load up on food until you’re uncomfortably full but eat a fair sized breakfast with some of the above foods and you should feel a lot better. A good breakfast will help settle your stomach, give you more energy and even help with the headache. Drink lots of juice or water and the duration and severity of your hangover will be greatly reduced.
Get a little exercise.
Talk yourself into taking a nice brisk walk, even if you just stick to your own yard. You’ll get your blood pumping, perk yourself up a bit and work out those toxins more quickly. You might have to suffer through it a little but as long as you remember to drink plenty of water as you walk, you’ll notice the hangover doesn’t last nearly as long as it would’ve had you stayed on your butt and watched television.
Take a healthy bath or soak.
Run a bath and throw in a little wasabi or a little mustard and you’ll feel much better for it. You can use whichever you have or whichever is easier for you to get. Both wasabi and mustard speed up the detoxification process, helping you feel better faster. They’ll also help improve your skin as well so there’s even that added bonus. It might sound a little silly but give it a shot. It really works.
Don’t ignore over the counter help.
Aspirin is great for hangovers. You can take two aspirin when you get up in the morning before breakfast to help minimize the symptoms of your hangover. Multivitamins are also a great choice as they help rebuild the things drinking the night before helped tear down. Multivitamins, aspirin, a good breakfast, a little exercise and a nice soak should have you back on your feet and ready for whatever you have planned for New Year’s Day. You might want to skip the drinks though unless you’re up for doing it all over again the next morning.