Sara’s Real Life, No-Bullshit Guide to Hangovers

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Hangovers suck. There’s no two ways about it, and they happen to the best of us. Sadly, they rear their ugly heads more often as we age, caused by much less.

Intoxication Nation: How we are drinking and dealing with our hangovers.

In my much-younger years, drinking bad cheap beer and tequila (read: college), I was rarely hungover. And certainly not in the way it occurs now. I’ve never been good at sleeping in, but I recall that some mornings-after called for a trip to Isaly’s for eggs, sausage and pancakes. All of the food! This cured anything that was off.

Fun fact: Pennsylvania is the 24th most hungover state in the nation.

For a time, toast and tomato juice from the Casa Cafe was commonplace (this sounds delicious to me, even now). My coworkers and I were all rediscovering Harrisburg in its then-revitalization, so some mornings we would all gather across the street from the office to cure what ailed us.

By my mid-20s, drinking a new blend of crap like cheap wine and Red Bull (stuff of the devil) — and smoking 10 million cigarettes — I went through a variety of hangover “cures” to quell my next-morning not-awesomeness.

Some weekend mornings, a nice cool glass of chocolate milk was all I needed to feel better. Or maybe a cold can of V-8. Oh, my 20s. If only.

And the really odd thing is that these were the days before I properly hydrated myself ANY of the time. I probably still stocked Diet Coke in my fridge and ate processed snacks.

You'll want this for tomorrow morning.
You’ll want this for tomorrow morning.

(Discuss: Are hangovers worse now that I’m healthier? Might it not be age?)

I’ve written many posts and columns on hangovers and potential cures. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll remind you: the only foolproof way to avoid a hangover is to abstain from alcohol.

Without further adieu, here is Sara’s Real Life No Bullshit Guide to Hangovers*:

  1. HYDRATE. Fools, water is your friend. So are vegetables that contain water. I’m really into PRE-hydration. I drink water daily anyway, but if I know I’ll be out and about, I’ll try to drink even more water in advance, just so I’m sure not to go into the evening under-hydrated. That, my friends, is a bad idea.
  2. EAT. Long gone are our days of drinking dinner. (This is a judgment-free zone, people — you know this has happened to you at least once, likely by accident.) Get some food in your belly. Sure, breads and pastas to soak things up is okay, but I would recommend a balanced, healthy meal. Protein, veggies, you get the picture.
  3. HYDRATE. Order a water alongside your wine/beer/cocktail. Doing so doesn’t make you lame, only smart. Now, drink up. Try to match your waters for cocktails. C’mon, at least make a little bit of an effort.
  4. NO SHOTS. I have nothing for you here. We’re not invincible. Think about it: I bet the last time you woke up with a headache you were like, “I hardly even drank much last night, maybe two or three beers.” But guess what? You had a shot, didn’t you? Oh yeah …
  5. GO TO BED … but first,  HYDRATE. I always drink a pint of water before bed as part of my nighttime routine, cocktails or not. It’s just one of those “healthy” things I do these days. If you’re way gone, this won’t save you, but it could help.
  6. STAY IN BED. Do you have any idea how many mornings I’ve suffered because I’m a jerk who cannot sleep in? On the days when I plan appropriately (gay bar tours, bachelorette parties) and I’m able to get in a few extra hours of sleep, life is much better.
  7. THINK: You want to focus on two things right now — Hydrating and reducing inflammation.
  8. MOCKTAIL TIME! Just kidding — I’m only recommending the simplest of recipes: lemon or lemon-lime seltzer. Sprite if you must. Sip it. I have many friends who swear by Gatorade or Vitamin Water, and that’s okay, but I’ve had terrific luck with lemon-lime seltzer water. Also, coconut water is rehydrating and good for you, but I find it a little gross on its own, which is why I like to throw it in a smoothie (see above). UPDATE: I also pretty much swear by Blowfish for Hangovers.
  9. EAT. Get something in your stomach again. Your body is going through a terrible ordeal right now and needs fuel and nutrients. DO NOT eat greasy, gross food. You will just feel worse. I really love to eat fresh, healthy foods to combat any ickiness.
    1. Plain oatmeal is great, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.
    2. Bananas are okay.
    3. That hangover smoothie above is pretty decent.
    4. If you can handle it, eggs are actually pretty great for you. EAT THE YOLK. STOP ORDERING EGG WHITE OMELETS.
    5. Watermelon is amazing and will save you (hydration + lycopene).
  10. HYDRATE. Fill up that water glass and keep it coming.
  11. ICE. Try to avoid taking painkillers for that headache. It’s pretty terrible for you (but if you must, stick to a low dose of ibuprofen — never acetaminophen). Get an ice pack and use it on your forehead, back of your neck or even sinuses (damn smoky bars) for 15-20 min. at a time.
  12. REST. Hopefully, it’s Sunday, football is on, and you can relax.
  13. If you’re up for it, a little EXERCISE – something mild, like a walk outside – also can help you. Fresh air and all. YOGA also could help.
  14. When in doubt, though scientifically unproven, sometimes a little HAIR OF THE DOG will do you right. Bloody Marys are my Rx of choice. (Doctors hate this and say no. I say only as a last resort, and no more than one. Or, trick your brain and just have a Virgin Mary — the tomatoes are good for you.)
  15. LEARN. Start paying attention to what certain foods and drinks do what to your body, and try to avoid those in the future. For some, that’s darker alcohols or tannic wines. For others, it’s beer — and yet others, champagne.

*Disclaimer: Yo, everyone is different. I’m also not a doctor. But you know that. 

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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