This article originally appeared as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.
Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink. Volunteer to be the designated driver, or just keep your glass full of water, juice or seltzer. You can still have a great time, and generally, other partygoers are too focused on their own fun to know or care.
If you’re bound and determined to imbibe, here are some tips:
1. Eat first. Have some protein and healthy fat in your system before you start to drink, even if it means eating before you head out to your event.
2. Drink 1-2 glasses of water or seltzer in between each glass of alcohol. You will pace yourself, and avoid dehydration, which is responsible for many of the symptoms of a hangover.
3. Don’t try to keep up with others. Your body may not process alcohol the same way as someone else’s, or you may not want to pay the same price they will.
4. Bartender bartering. If you don’t want to deal with comments from your cohort, you might be able to work out a little subterfuge with the bartender, to be served nonalcoholic drinks without calling attention to yourself. If anyone gives you a hard time, it’s their issue, not yours. Smile, stick to your plan and have fun. That’s what you’re there for.
5. Avoid sweet drinks. Sugars, syrups and juices compound the effects of alcohol, depleting your system of more nutrients, and leading to a bigger crash later.
6. Avoid sports drinks. Minerals are depleted when you drink, but don’t use a high-sugar sports drink to compensate. Instead, try an unsweetened electrolyte formula, or packets of EmergenC, which is widely available and combines vitamins B and C and minerals, including potassium. [I’ve got great options in the office if you want my picks]
7. Amino acids. Research suggests that supplementing with amino acids taurine and cysteine, along with vitamins B and C, may help minimize hangover symptoms.
8. Drink a big glass of water before going to sleep, and keep a glass by your bedside in case you wake up thirsty but don’t feel like getting up. Put your electrolyte replacement formula in there, too.
9. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking, and make sure it includes protein, plenty of healthy fats and complex carbs to redeem your low blood sugar and help keep it stable as you recover.
Have fun, and don’t overdo it. Your body and brain will thank you.