The holidays can be a time for overdoing it: Americans nearly double their amount of alcohol consumption during the holiday season, and this year is likely to be no different, according to a well-known doctor. Drinking, eating, and letting yourself have fun is all part of enjoying the holiday season, but there are ways to do it and suffer the least damage to your health and avoiding that awful hungover feeling, especially when it comes to getting back on track to eat right, exercise, and stay healthy. Dr. Fred Pescatore, author of The A- offers his 6 best tips for how to drink and avoid a hangover, so you can get back on track when you had a little too much holiday cheer.
6 Strategies to get through the imbibing season without suffering that hungover feeling
Dr. Pescatore: Americans nearly double their alcohol consumption during the holiday season, and this year is no exception.
When you’re hungover, you’re feeling sluggish and even nauseous because your body is in a state of dehydration and cell repair. During a hangover, your liver is working to repair any damage by removing toxins in the bloodstream, breaking down alcohols and processing nutrients to be absorbed into the body. Some people choose to take a sober approach to the holidays to avoid any potential pitfalls, but if you’re planning to add some holiday cocktails to your festivities, there are a few strategies I recommend:
Tips to Drink and Not Feel Awful the Next Day
- Be mindful about what’s on your plate. Particularly if you’re drinking at a holiday get-together with family or friends, it’s easy to think that because you’re eating more, you’ll be able to handle more alcohol. This isn’t always the case, especially if the dinner table is packed with high-sodium dishes like stuffing and casseroles. Keep these dishes, and sugary desserts in smaller portions so you don’t feel dehydrated later, which can make hangovers worse.
- One of the best and most simple things you can do is drink water throughout the festivities. It may sound obvious, but it can be easier said than done. Along with water, try switching to a mocktail or another beverage. I recommend sticking to options with little to no sugar or caffeine, which are more hydrating than their sugary counterparts.
- Avoid Drinking Multiple Days in a Row. Many people swear by a Bloody Mary or Mimosa the morning after a night out, but the truth is that the hair of the dog could do more harm than good. Some studies show that hangover symptoms are at their worst when your blood alcohol levels return to normal, which is why some drinkers reach for another alcoholic drink in the morning, but this really only delays the inevitable. When your liver is already working to process last night’s drinks out of your bloodstream, piling on additional drinks the next day only adds more work for your liver’s detox process.
- Set Your Own Pace and Be Accountable. Go to your holiday get-together with your own drinking expectations in mind. It can be tempting to push those expectations aside when everyone else wants to play a drinking game, experiment with cocktails or take shots but a good habit to get into is to start counting your drinks – on your phone notes, on a piece of paper, or anything that you know you’ll remember. An Australian study found that this method can be very effective for those looking to cut back on how much they’re drinking.
- Make Sleep Health a Priority. A recent study found a direct correlation between how much quality sleep they experienced and the severity of their hangover. Those who slept for at least 7 hours reported less severe symptoms. Sleep is important for overall healthy lifestyle, but it’s also when bodily processes for repair and detox are most active. I always recommend 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and this is no different for after a night out drinking. A consistent sleep schedule with quality sleep can help make any ensuing hangover effects more bearable
- Start supporting your liver. When you’re drinking excessively, your liver must work harder to process the alcohol from your bloodstream. If you’re feeling hungover, it can mean that your drinking has temporarily exceeded the liver’s capacity to process and filter, which can lead to the common “hangover” effects many are familiar with. Try taking a natural supplement to support your liver health. I like Robuvit French oak wood extract, an antioxidant that studies show has helped to boost the liver’s natural detox function, so you can recover from a hangover faster. A recent study shows that helps to improve symptoms of temporary liver damage and alleviate symptoms of fatigue, nausea, and mild liver enlargement.
It should go without saying but we want you to have a healthy and safe holiday, so don’t ever drink and drive, and even if you feel like you can handle it, you can’t. Get a designated driver.