Healthy Hangover Hacks for the Holidays

hacks healthy Nov 25, 2019

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One of my favorite things about being a health and wellness expert is that I know a bunch of remedies for when I want to do really stupid things.  For instance, if I were to eat an entire block of cheddar cheese, I have some herbal remedies that makes it possible for me to do this without several days worth of unfortunate consequences.  While I can’t make stupid choices for my body all the time (although, I love to try!), I can use my knowledge to help me get away with some things. 


My body + red wine

We all react differently to alcohol.  For some of us, there are no after effects to having a few drinks. For others, it can range from constipation to diahrhea to a crazy headache to vomiting and nausea.  Or, depending on what you had to drink and how many - all of the above. Or, if you’re lucky, none of the above <and now we can’t be friends ;)>.

I love red wine.  An Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at the end of a long day is like hanging out with a friend who really gets me - but my body is not a fan.  If I have one glass in the afternoon, then I’m generally fine. If I have more than one glass or drink later in the evening then the following will happen (warning, some of this information may be considered an ‘overshare’):  I will be able to fall asleep but will wake around 1 or 2am fully awake like it’s freaking morning. I will have intense cramping, the kind where you are praying to fart just so it stops hurting. And then there is generally some kind of bowel issue that I won’t get into.  No nausea or headaches. But this is all very inconvenient, especially when I’m trying to work at my best the next day. And I get some version of this with white wine, beer, and mixed drinks too, (I’ve done extensive personal research in my quest to find a solution).

The easiest solution, obviously, is just for me not to drink alcohol.  Which, admittedly, is what I do most days because the consequences are so annoying.  I drink a glass of wine about once a week. More on vacation and around the holidays.  What makes me most mad about all of this is that I don’t get to just enjoy a glass of red wine paired perfectly with a meal I just cooked.  Or try new wines when I’m out to eat. I used to love wine pairing and trying new wines and saying snobby things like, “I detect a hint of cranberries and juniper.” 

So, when I know I’m going to drink, like at a party or on vacation, I’m ready to go.  Yes, I pack everything below to go on vacation, and what I can’t pack I generally grab at a local grocery store or a friendly restaurant.  


Prep Work

Dear Body, I’m going to do some stuff later that you may not be like.  But I love you, so I’m going to help to prepare you throughout the day.  Please don’t hate me.  

  1. Hydrate with warm water. Sip warm water throughout the day to help keep your digestion at its best AND pre-hydrate you for your big night.  Don’t over do it. Consider an extra cup of warm water in the morning and one in the afternoon.
  2. Eat some healthy big heavy dense meals packed with veggies.  If you are going to do something cruel to your body later, the least you can do is be awesome to it during the day.  Show it some love with some healthy food choices - think a hearty bean and veggie soup or a bowl with rice, lentils, and steamed veggies.
  3. Sleep.  Get an amazing night of sleep the night before.  Yes, sleep is awesome and healthy, but mostly I just make better decisions after a good night of sleep.  Will my night of over-indulgence still contain some good decisions? Absolutely. Probably. Ok, well hopefully.

Clean Up

Dear Body, I am so sorry for last night.  Seriously, I had fun but I can feel that you did not.  I feel kinda bad about that - but I think we can make a quick recovery.  Let’s do this. 

  1. Rehydrate with warm water - Warm water will soothe your sensitive digestion and help to rehydrate you faster. Don’t chug it, sip it gently throughout the day.  If you are out, you can just ask for hot water with lemon and most restaurants have this available. 
  2. Ginger tea - Ginger tea is essentially magic.  Seriously, it will soothe your stomach while helping to get your digestion back on track.  Ginger tea is so popular now that it comes in a bunch of different options, try my favorites here and hereI almost always have Ginger tea with me - packed in my work bag, in my travel carry on - it has saved me from several overseas digestive disasters. For instance, it is possible to eat too many gyozas in Kyoto - I’ve done the research, and it was totally worth it.  We found this tiny 4 table restaurant that only made gyozas. There was an insane line outside just to get in. It was worth the wait, and going back 2 more times. When I’m traveling I am not screwing around with food - I want to try it all and I want to eat as much as possible because I may never get to go back to Japan.  Ginger tea when we got back to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning made for a much more pleasant experience.
  3. Honey in hot water/tea - Honey is also magical!  It can help to strengthen weakened digestion. It decreases the hydrochloric acid in your stomach - decreasing the chances of nausea and vomiting.  You can travel with those sticks of honey for tea or the packets that runners use during races for fuel.  
  4. Eat warm dense foods like stews and soups - Be lovey to your body! Provide it something really solid and boring.  Don’t, for instance, put more gyozas in your body until you are ready.
  5. Rest - The day after is a great time for a slower day.  Maybe read a book. Take a nap. Give you body a fighting chance to get back on track.  This is a perfect day to work in your bed.  

My stomach hurts!

Quick fixes to soothe your stomach after you’ve done something mean to it:

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice + ½ teaspoon sugar, Pinch of salt + ½ teaspoon baking soda = Mix the first three ingredients in 8oz warm water, then add the baking soda. Drink in the morning. 
  • 1 cup warm water + 1 tablespoon whole plain yogurt + pinch of cumin powder = mix all ingredients and drink slowly.


More than just wine making me feel like crap

But for me, an evening of over-indulgence could include staying out late, eating lots of fried foods, eating lots of sugar, or drinking alcohol.  All of these things disrupt my body and, the next day, my life. I know how my body reacts to different things and I weigh that knowledge before deciding what to do.  I generally make a conscious decision to focus on one stupid behavior at a time. For instance, I would not eat a bunch of fried food AND drink alcohol. I would focus on one, savoring it.  Check out how to savor here.  


Make good choices

Next time you have a night over over-indulgence that results in something not-so-awesome the next day, consider the following questions:

  1. Yes, I feel like crap - but how specifically am I feeling like crap?  What are the ways in which my body reacts to my big night out? When you figure out the results of your behavior you have a much better chance of being able to figure out how to hack it.  
  2. What caused me to feel like crap?  Don’t let something as precious as chocolate or cheese get a bad rap unless it truly deserves it!  Figure out what specifically pisses your body off.
  3. What makes me feel better?  Besides laying in bed watching Netflix, what works for you?  Try out some things until you build your own ‘over-indulgence toolkit.’

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