1. Picture this: You pop to the pub with your mates after work, and one small glass becomes two becomes a whole bottle becomes you just keep saying “another large glass for me, please!” every time someone offers a round.
^ You, living like there’s no tomorrow last night.
(Spoiler alert: There is a tomorrow.)
3. After you use up every iota of energy you have pulling your sorry self out of bed at whatever ungodly hour it is, you stumble to the fridge. Your stomach’s turning and your head is split into a million tiny pieces. It’s rough.
^ You, wishing for death before needing to get up to pee.
4. But last weekend’s leftover pizza will fix it, right?
^ You, trying to eat away the pain.
5. WRONG. Sorry, but wrong.
^ Me, getting ready to drop some truth bombs about what you should actually eat while you pray for God to deliver you from this evil.
6. Cold pizza is delicious, but it’s not a hangover cure. The good news is that just because pizza won’t actually calm your stomach or make you feel like a functioning human, you CAN eat your way to a faster and fuller recovery.
^ You, admitting you don’t care if you have to eat actual kale, you just want to end the madness.
(You don’t have to eat actual kale.)
7. It turns out a couple small adjustments can make a huge difference in your recovery.
We spoke to registered dietician and nutritionist Anna Daniels of Honest Nutrition about how you should actually be feeding your body to minimise the effects of a hangover, and tbh, it’s not that hard, and can still be pretty tasty!
8. To start, ditch fizzy drinks for sports drinks and ice lollies.
While it’s tempting to think the bubbles in a favourite soft drink will comfort and soothe you, fizzy drinks like Coca-Cola, as well as stomach settling favourites like Irn-Bru and ginger beer, rarely accomplish what you’re looking for. You might enjoy the bubbles at the time, but they could end up causing more discomfort in the long run through gas and bloating, which will keep your body from feeling like its old self ASAP.
Opt instead for sports drinks, which Daniels says “replace your lost salts and minerals and assist in your recovery as they do help to rehydrate you.” If you’re really keen for a treat, Daniels says that ice lollies can do the trick: “[They] contain water so they will assist in hydration.”
9. Don’t eat large, greasy meals.
“Although you may feel like greasy foods, these foods will end up only making you feel worse in the end,” says Daniels. I know, I know, the truth hurts, but so does your belly and head when you’re hungover, especially if you’re not caring for yourself right.
One of the top commandments of hangover recovery is staying hydrated and reintroducing the nutrients you neutralised with that bottle of whatever it was the bartender should have cut you off of, and carb-heavy, greasy, salty foods are not the answer. “Large meals will leave you feeling even more sluggish,” warns Daniels. Start small and light instead. The NHS recommends starting your morning with bouillon soup, which is packed with vitamins and minerals but also quite light and easy on the stomach.
Keep an eye on your salt intake as well. “A little [bit of salt] is fine,” says Daniels, but “too much will just end up dehydrating you further.”
10. Instead, focus on foods with plenty of vitamin B.
“Drinking excess alcohol can leave you feeling dehydrated and also deplete your vitamin B stores,” Daniels explains. B vitamins contribute to your health across the board, so if you want to keep your skin and hair looking good, your metabolism functioning normally, and your circulatory and nervous systems in full working order, you’d best be looking after your intake following a night of heavy drinking.
But Daniels says you don’t have to suffer through a tasteless meal if you’re craving something substantial during your hangover. Wholegrains, milk, eggs, and veggies are all high in vitamin B, and should be worked into your post-night-out diet.
If all else fails, try out a vitamin supplement. Berocca does, in fact, contain B vitamins, so there’s some truth to its legendary status as Britain’s favourite hangover medication, but you can also get more bang for your buck by buying a targeted vitamin B supplement at your local pharmacy.
11. Trick your body’s grease hankering with healthy fats.
Fatty foods can slow the absorption of alcohol if eaten before your big night out, but afterwards it’s better to focus on fresh foods: vegetables, fruits, and nutritious plant-based foods.
For a dose of fat and grease, Daniels suggests working “good fats like avocado or smoked salmon,” as well as poached eggs, seeds, and nuts, into your hangover brunch. “An example of an ideal ‘morning after’ breakfast would be a fresh fruit and vegetable juice, wholegrain toast for slow-release energy topped with sautéed mushrooms, spinach full of carotene, avocado, with good fats, smoked salmon with omega-3 and poached eggs with protein and vitamin A, D & B. Or a bowl of porridge with chopped berries and sunflower seeds,” Daniels says.
If that all sounds too fancy, just slap some avocado and egg on top of some multigrain toast for a super-simple, Instagramworthy morning-after meal. Not convinced? Here are 21 more ways to eat avocados for breakfast.
12. Don’t fall into the “hair of the dog” trap.
Why deny yourself that sweet, sweet morning after Bloody Mary, you ask? Well, contrary to everyone’s favourite wives’ tale, a little bit of alcohol the morning after does not work like a magical magnet to attract all that rebellious hooch in your system and somehow whip it into shape. In fact, you really shouldn’t be drinking for at least 48 hours after a hangover, according to the NHS.
Daniels agrees, and warns further: “You also don’t allow your liver the time it needs to recover. Choosing to have a ‘hair of the dog’ also risks getting into bad habits that just don’t give your body a break from drinking!”
13. Drink a shit ton of water.
You know the drill. “Nothing but time and rehydration will really help,” says Daniels, so when it comes to looking after your body post–night out, your number one priority should be avoiding dehydration and making sure your body is getting the water it needs.
The NHS recommends starting with the water right away. You should be hydrating between drinks on your night out, and you should definitely drink about a pint of water before you go to bed. The NHS’s online resources add that in addition to drinking good old tap water, you can mix your rehydration up a bit with “bland liquids that are easy on the digestive system, such as water, soda water and isotonic drinks.”
14. Consider how you treat your body BEFORE you go out next time.
Once you’ve come around the other side of a nasty hangover, take a moment to reflect on your newfound will to live and commit to applying a little self-care to your drinking regime.
Here are a couple of things to take into account BEFORE you hit the point of no return:
Consider what you’re drinking. Many people are highly susceptible to the sulfates and histamines produced by wine, which can contribute to a rougher hangover. Dark spirits are another one to avoid; both the NHS and this study advise that many darker alcohols contain congeners that irritate blood vessels and brain tissue, making hangovers worse for some people.
Eat well before you go out. “You should absolutely eat before you are going to have a night of drinking,” says Daniels. “Food slows the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Drinking on an empty stomach can be dangerous and you won’t probably last the night!”
Eat and hydrate while you’re out. The safest bet for avoiding a hangover and drinking too much in general is to make sure you’re combining your alcohol intake with food and water. “If you can incorporate dinner or tapas-style bar snacks, that is even better, so that you are drinking and eating at the same time,” suggests Daniels.
15. And if you wake up still drunk?
Same rules apply. “There is a fine line between waking up hungover and waking up drunk,” according to Daniels. “If you wake up hungover, you are more than likely to have alcohol still in your bloodstream. Eat a nutritious meal, hydrate, and get some rest is the best advice.”
At the end of the day, it’s not about how you feel the morning after, but about the way you continuously treat your body. “The occasional hangover shouldn’t do you to much harm,” says Daniels. (Cue you and me both sighing in relief.) “But if it’s something that continues to happen regularly, you are putting yourself at risk of a host of complications. People who drink excessively have higher risks of all types of health conditions including cancer and cardiovascular disease.”
16. So have fun and welcome the occasional morning-after misery, but don’t forget to take care of yourself before, during, and after that cheeky half-pint turned bender.
^ You, being an adult who values your functioning body and mind.