What To Eat When You're Hungover, According To A Nutritionist
Thanksgiving family reunions got you reaching for the red wine reserves? Has your quiet night of Netflix binging turned into an impromptu long weekend bar crawl? You're going to need to read this, come morning.
At this point, a brutal weekend hangover is an irreversible certainty. Sorry to disappoint you, but you can’t turn back time. What you can do, is navigate your hangover with foods.
Despite popular belief, a greasy large meal isn’t the best idea when your stomach, liver, and kidneys are working overtime to deal with all that alcohol. A greasy meal might help prevent a hangover since a fatty meal prior to drinking can help slow the absorption of alcohol—however, eating one the morning after can actually irritate your stomach and make things worse.
But before we dive in, let's review the serious biz first, because it’s important and because I need to keep my dietician's license. Don’t get it twisted. Per the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, moderate, safe alcohol consumption is 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. 1 drink means:
- 12 ounces of 5.0% ABV beer
- 8 ounces of 7.0% ABV malted liqour (AKA high alcohol beers)
- 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine
- 1.5 ounces of 40% (80 proof) distilled liquor or spirit
These guidelines are for safety and overall health, in reference to the percent of alcohol by volume (ABV) in each drink. They're not weight management guidelines, these are "your liver can't handle this shit" guidelines. Also, I do not recommend individuals who don't drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.
But since you’ve successfully surpassed these guidelines, now what? Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of science done on hangovers. So I’ve arranged a few suggestions based on the type of hangover you’re enduring, based on the symptoms.
All suggestions are ultimately to help your poor, overworked organs clear out that alcohol. And a disclaimer, I don’t believe in the concept of “superfoods” or “cure all” foods. But hey, anything to keep you from hurling between meetings.
The “Ain’t no thing”
You wake up feeling a little off, but nothing you can’t handle before your first meeting. You're dehydrated, so grab a glass of water (or two) before touching your coffee. This is true for everyday, but especially after a night of drinking, since alcohol is incredibly dehydrating.
I strongly advise avoiding any chugging since the rapid intake of fluid you cause any underlying nauseousness to disrupt your commute. Otherwise, conduct business as usual but keep a water bottle handy throughout the day.
Your eyes crack open and you feel like your mouth will never close completely, and your skin is sandpaper. Your body is barren of any water. For the hangovers when you feel like a walking desert, obviously drink water, but add a cooling smoothie filled with hydrating fruits/veggies to your morning.
I rarely recommended drinking your fruit or vegetables but your digestive system might need a minute to chill. Include electrolyte rich ingredients like coconut water, honey, 100 percent citrus juice, spinach, kale, bananas, and potatoes. #carbsarelife. Plus, walking around with a smoothie in your hand gives off the illusion you have your shit together.
The “Feeling the bass”
Is a piece of speaker stuck in your midbrain? Your head is pounding so hard you feel like it’s noticeably bobbing. This might seem simple, but with a headache, keep to soft food.
Since trying to crunch on anything might aggravate your headache. Grab a plain piece of bread and a boiled egg. Stay hydrated and avoid crazy amounts of caffeine. I’d suggest 1 cup of coffee, but nothing more since it could unnecessarily prolong your headache via dehydration.
The “‘I’m on a boat”
Your entire body is swaying like it’s at sea and you definitely might hurl. Avoid smelly foods—focus on eating room temperature or cold foods. Interestingly enough, sniffing a lemon is known to subdue nausea. So, cut a lemon in half and keep it handy. Then, use the other half in your water to help with your electrolyte repletion. Or find some ginger kombucha and sip away.
Plain crackers are a great way to fill your stomach and absorb the gastric acid that might bubbling around. Also, focus on a small amount of fiber. Too much fiber can increase nausea, but a little bit will help slow digestion and calm your system.
The only way to really avoid these symptoms is to avoid drinking, or keep it within guidelines. But hey, sometimes your friend who owns the swanky drink cart has no idea how to make a drink. So, use the tips above to survive the holidays and God speed.
Alexandra Reed is a registered dietician and nutrition coach. Before making any changes to your diet or nutrition plan, be sure to personally consult with your doctor or a registered dietician/healthcare provider first.
Words: Alexandra Reed