Nothing can knock the festive spirit out of you quite like a painful hangover. Fortunately, if you’ve enjoyed a little too much spiked eggnog, certain foods can help you nourish and soothe your body. Surprisingly, scientists still aren’t certain about the underlying causes of hangovers, but there are a couple of viable theories. One is that the toxic ingredients in alcohol dehydrate you, depleting your body of nutrients and electrolytes. We know that headaches are usually caused by dehydration and that alcohol dehydrates us, meaning too much bubbly can leave us with a pounding headache. If you happen to throw up, your body will lose even more nutrients. This can leave you feeling weak, fatigued, and shaky. The nausea might cause you to lose your appetite, but it’s important to nourish your body and replenish the nutrients you lost. The following foods will soothe your body and get you back into the spirit in no time.
When it comes to preventing and curing hangovers, hydration is key. To prevent a pounding headache, drink water while drinking alcohol, then have a few glasses of water before you fall asleep. The morning after a night out, water can be your best friend, too. You might be tempted to reach for fizzy soft drinks or sports drinks to rehydrate you. While these can have a hydrating effect, they contain a lot of sugar and aren’t always great for your body. A healthier alternative is electrolyte-rich solutions, like Hydralyte or coconut water. And while drinking water is essential, you can also snack on hydrating foods. Terra’s Kitchen nutritionist Lisa Davis, PhD, suggests snacking on celery, cucumber, and tomato. This is a great trick for when you’re not in the mood to push any more straight H2O.
Coffee as a hangover cure: Some people swear by it while others just can’t go there. “Since dehydration is a major symptom of hangovers, consuming caffeinated beverages can produce a diuretic effect and make hangovers worse by causing even more dehydration,” says Davis. That said, it might still be helpful to drink your morning coffee. One interesting study written up in LiveScience suggests that caffeine and anti-inflammatory drugs could be the best hangover cure. According to the study’s authors, coffee and ibuprofen can counter the effects of acetate, which may be responsibile for hangover headaches. If you don’t like coffee, or if the thought of it makes you feel ill, try another caffeine-rich drink like green tea, instead.
3. Ginger Tea
According to studies cited by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, ginger eases nausea during pregnancy and after chemotherapy. If your hangover involves feeling nauseated, ginger just might ease your symptoms, too. Grate some ginger and leave it to steep in hot water for a tea that will settle your stomach. If you’d like, add some honey to the mix to improve the taste.
4. Bananas and Leafy Greens
“Potassium is an electrolyte that is excreted from the body swiftly when drinking, so replenish with high potassium foods like bananas, avocado, and sweet potatoes,” advises Davis. Bananas also contain fructose, which can give you a little energy if you’re feeling exhausted. And, of course, they require no preparation, which means they’re an easy food to grab the next day.
“Alcohol can impair the body’s fat absorption and thereby can impair the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A and E,” Davis says. “Vitamins A and E are found abundantly in sweet potatoes, carrots, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.” One way to get all those vegetables down without feeling queasy? A nutritious homemade soup. Opt for a thin broth if you can’t handle a heavier meal.
Foods to Avoid While Hungover
Many people believe that greasy fried cuisine is the best cure for a hangover. While your body might be craving carbohydrates, greasy food is the last thing it needs. Food that’s too rich can unsettle the stomach, not to mention that greasy food is unhealthy whether you’re hungover or not. Davis also warns against consuming processed foods while hungover. “Because these foods are stripped of their fiber and are quickly digested, it can cause a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash,” she explains. “This cycle can promote irritability, which is the last thing we want when mending a hangover!” Another so-called hangover cure that’s actually harmful? More alcohol. Despite popular belief, the “hair of the dog” isn’t helpful—it simply depletes your body of more nutrients. While it might knock the edge off temporarily, it will catch up with you at some point. Of course, the easiest way to avoid a hangover is to limit your alcohol consumption. But if you’ve underestimated the power of that last glass of wine, nourish and hydrate your body with good foods. With a bit of solid nutrition and some luck, you’ll be back on track for more festivity and activity before you know it!