The holidays are a time of excess — shopping, a lot of indulgent food and just a little too much eggnog and spiked cider. Sometimes, hangovers are just unavoidable. But there are a few tricks to help ease the pain of a hangover, or even avoid one altogether, and salvage your holiday vacation.
Before You Drink
Order a Burger
Treat yourself to a burger before your big night out. The intensity of a hangover isn’t just linked to how much you drink, but how you metabolize alcohol, which depends on what you eat before downing martinis.
Elizabeth Kovacs, Ph.D., director of the Alcohol Research program at Loyola University recommends eating a meal that contains red meat, carbs and fat. Dr. Kovacs explained that red meat has a high concentration of amino acids and B vitamins that can help process the nasty byproducts of alcohol.
Take a Multivitamin
Hangovers are not just about dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means you lose a lot of vitamins and nutrients when partying the night away. Antioxidants can also help mitigate hangovers.
“A big misconception is that hangovers are entirely about dehydration,” Jason Burke, M.D., an anesthesiologist and creator of Hangover Heaven, a mobile medical clinic based in Las Vegas, said to Cosmopolitan. “But the main issues are inflammation and oxidative stress. And it’s much easier to prevent a hangover than it is to deal with it the next morning.”
While You’re Drinking
Drink Coconut Water
Between glasses of holiday mimosas, try drinking some coconut water to stave off dehydration and the impending headache caused by alcohol. Sometimes called “nature’s sports drink,” coconut water is very hydrating, has tons of potassium and is packed with electrolytes—so basically it’s natural hangover-fighting super drink.
Even one or two social cigarettes while drunk will make your hangover the next day worse, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Studies On Alcohol and Drugs. The researchers tracked 113 college students’ alcohol intake, smoking habits and hangover symptoms for eight weeks. They found that when the students drank heavily and smoked, their hangover the next day was more severe. So as tempting as that one social cigarette may seem, you might really regret it the next day.
After You Drink
Before going to bed after a long night of drinking, taking ibuprofen could help stave off the impending hangover. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and can reduce the inflammation that alcohol causes. However, you should avoid painkillers that have acetaminophen, which can damage your kidney and liver if mixed with alcohol.
Snack on Bananas and Pretzels
This combination may seem strange, but it can help cure that throbbing hangover. In fact, any food high in salt and potassium can help.
“Both salt and potassium are electrolytes that hold onto water to decrease dehydration,” Alyssa Cellini, nutritionist in Bridgewater, NJ told Medical Daily in an email. “Adding in natural electrolytes that ALSO come with carbohydrates (which are depleted during the liver-detoxing) will make for one less step to feeling better.”
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.