Nutritionists' Tips for Avoiding a Hangover
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How to Prep for a Big Night Out
If you've ever drank a smidge too much, you know all about that awful feeling that follows the next day. Headache, fatigue and nausea top the list of uncomfortable symptoms — but don't forget about the tummy ache, dehydration and worse. We asked 10 nutritionists from around the country to give their best advice on avoiding a nasty hangover. The next time you decide to have a drink or two (or more), keep these tips in mind.
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Drink and Eat
"A hangover is your body's way of saying, 'Don't do that to me again.' The best way to avoid it is to make sure you simultaneously drink and eat. Research suggests that an alcoholic drink consumed after a meal is absorbed about three times more slowly than [one] consumed on an empty stomach. When your stomach is empty, alcohol will quickly leave the stomach and be more rapidly absorbed, anesthetizing your good judgment to stop at a moderate intake. The best way to treat a hangover is to prevent it." — Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, of Nutrition and You
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Practice the "Sip-Sip" Technique
"When drinking, practice the 'sip-sip' technique. This simply means that whenever you take a sip of your adult beverage, you take an equal or larger-sized sip of water. This serves two purposes: First, it slows down your intake of that alcoholic beverage, and second, it helps keep you hydrated." — Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, nutrition consultant and culinary dietitian
Choose Quality Over Quantity
"Choose what you drink wisely. Cheap wine and spirits or drinks that are too sugary always leave me with a headache. Plus, spending more money per drink will likely make you drink more slowly and think harder about ordering another!" — Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, of Lively Table
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"Visualize the event (or evening) before your first drink, and visualize waking up feeling great in the morning, and you will likely drink less." — Jan Patenaude, RD, CLT, certified LEAP therapist and mentor
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Keep It Transparent
"Stick to clear alcohol, such as tequila or vodka with soda water, or wine. Many cocktails made with juices, liqueurs and syrups are sugar-laden and can lead not only to a rough morning, but an expanding waistline. Without the added sweetness, you may also sip your cocktail more slowly, decreasing overall alcohol intake over the course of the night." — Eliza Whetzel, R.D., private practitioner at Middleberg Nutrition in New York City
Drink Chocolate Milk
"We all know we're supposed to drink water in between alcoholic beverages, but sometimes we forget because we're having so much fun. If you know there's a hangover in your future, make sure to hydrate before you go to sleep. I find that low-fat chocolate milk is a comforting and effective hangover cure because it provides protein, sugar, sodium and hydration. It's the tastiest electrolyte drink. Research shows chocolate milk helps athletes recover after exercise, and it has the same recuperative powers for hangover recovery too." — Carolyn O'Neil, M.S., RDN, of The Slim Down South Cookbook and blogger at O’Neil on Eating
Carb Up the Next Day
"When we consume a lot of alcohol, the liver is preoccupied by metabolizing the alcohol and unable to produce glycogen, which helps keep our blood sugar from dropping. The next morning after a hard night of drinking, you're likely experiencing low blood sugar, so eating carbs, like potatoes, toast, bagels or pancakes, can help raise your blood sugar and help settle your stomach." — Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of the upcoming book Body Kindness
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"The main reason that you feel so terrible and experience awful headaches after drinking is because you are extremely dehydrated. While water helps, hydration is about more than just water — it’s also about replacing lost electrolytes like potassium and sodium. One of my favorite ways to ease a hangover is to have a big bowl of soup. Not only does it provide liquids, but it’s usually full of sodium and has some sort of potassium-filled veggies. Plus, a big bowl of warm soup makes you feel better mentally, which is half the battle!" — Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D., of Nutrition a la Natalie
Plan for Cardio
"Sign up for a class or agree to meet a friend the next morning. You'll most likely drink less because you have a commitment, which can help prevent getting a hangover in the first place!" — Jamila Lepore, M.S., R.D., CPT, of No Nonsense Nutritionist
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"If you decide not to drink alcohol, there’s no need to make an announcement about why you made that choice. Grab a club soda with a twist of lime and it’ll look like a gin and tonic. Why not just deem yourself as the designated driver? ... It’ll probably give your friends something to cheer about!" — Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It
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