Nutritionist Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Hangover

  • Written By:Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN
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It’s holiday season and that might mean a few extra cocktails, a few extra calories, and a few extra late nights for the next few weeks, right? I know that holds true for many of my clients and we are ok with that. Why? Well, first of all it’s life — and life should be festive and fun. Secondly, your plan for how to recover post holiday party is right here, so you can be festive and feel good (errrr, feel ok) the day after too. Keep reading for my top tips on how to recover from the holiday party:

The Pregame Plan

Add Supplements

Let’s talk supplements! If you know in advance that cocktails are in your future, pop these two all natural supplements as you head out the door to help ward off that hangover tomorrow: NAC (N-acetylcysteine), which supports liver detox, and vitamin B Complex, which we lose when we drink. Both prevent the acetaldehyde toxicity that causes your hangover the next day.

Drink Water

Wash those down with a big glass of water and put an additional glass next to your bed for later! Before you head to sleep, down that glass (or two), this will help you in the morning, I promise!

Put the Tylenol Down

Alcohol can inhibit the enzymes necessary to breakdown acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) which can lead to liver damage. We are taxing our livers enough when we drink, let’s not add more work here.

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The Morning After

Reflect

You’ve done the damage, now reflect on the good times, not the indulgences. To feel good you first have to remove all the guilt that sometimes comes along with over imbibing or indulging. Own it, recognize it and move on. This is your very first step in feeling better. Feeling guilty often leads to punishing behavior such as over exercising, not eating enough, eating too much or thinking bad thoughts. None of these will erase the past, so celebrate the fun stuff, make mental notes for next time and move the heck on.

Hydrate

Hydrate and after that, hydrate some more. From hangover to bloating, drinking water will fix both. When we drink alcohol we get dehydrated, so unless you remember to alternate a glass of water with each cocktail, you need to start guzzling...NOW! A common side effect of dehydration is brain fog and a headache, sound familiar? Keep hydrating. Additionally, when we are dehydrated we also tend to hold on to water, aka, bloat. Sure you may have eaten a few extra pigs in a blanket or nachos and that salt will keep you puffy too, so start chugging to flush the excess water out. Our number one recommendation is always plain old water. Toss in a lemon for bonus points, but please avoid the notorious Gatorade (organic is OK if you can find it). If you’re craving extra electrolytes, reach for coconut water.

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Load Up On Potassium

What do hangovers and marathons have in common? Both require adequate potassium, so eat a banana or two. Drinking alcohol tends to decrease the potassium in our bodies, this is one of the reasons you feel so crappy the next day. Grab a banana (heck, grab any type of fruit) with breakfast or make some avocado toast and you’ll feel better in no time.

Eat Some Carbs

Ideally carbs that are whole foods based and unprocessed.Another reason why hangovers happen is because your blood sugar is likely low. Yes, low blood sugar causes headaches, weakness, fatigue and even the sweats and shakes. The only thing that raises your blood sugar is sugar, and sugar comes from carbs. So no, you don’t need greasy bacon, eggs and cheese, you actually will feel better with fruit, whole wheat toast, a smoothie or even a green juice. Just a little will go a long way.

Caffeinate

Only after you have hydrated and eaten should you grab a cup of coffee or tea. This will help you to feel alert and to provide a boost of adrenaline to possibly get you out of bed. Note: Coffee on an empty stomach can exacerbate tummy troubles, so if your GI tract is feeling off, sip hot tea or bone bone broth instead.

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Sweat it Out

Although you might think a hardcore workout is just what you need, you are incorrect. Remember you are already dehydrated, might be a bit clumsy and may have a bit of brain fog — an intense workout in this state might do more harm than good. We recommend something light like stretching, a walk outside in the fresh air (my personal fav!) or a gentle yoga class. If that doesn’t speak to you then wait until later when you are feeling better before hitting the gym.

Get Back on Track

Remember this was only one event, and a one off event won’t do anything to your health or your nutrition goals as long as you get back on track the very next time you eat. That’s right, don’t wait until Monday or the New Year. You can prevent a lot of damage and start feeling empowered literally a few hours after your last cookie. No excuses! Get right back on track, eat a balanced and healthy meal, and keep looking forward. That my friend is how you live your life, not your diet.

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