December for many of us is the month of the constant hangover. We seem to lurch from one drinks party to another overly indulgent dinner, and we see our health going out of the window alongside our productivity, energy and mental agility
At this time of year, magazines are saturated with tips on how to survive party season but often these rely on being punishingly self-disciplined. We all know that drinking less, sleeping more and doing yoga are the answers, but rarely are these conducive with silly season.
So if you don’t want to leave the party early, drink watered down wine or refuse deep fried canapés, here are five tricks to help you through the resultant horror you’re quite often faced with the next day. These fail-safe tricks are tried and tested, not only by the scientists, but also by my clients and friends… and occasionally also myself in order to be that hangover !
1. Hot Water With Fresh Lemon and Ginger First Thing
We have all heard that drinking hot water with lemon and ginger is good first thing but this is especially the case after a night of excessive drinking. Not only does it hydrate you, but it is the perfect way to kick start your liver and warm up the body to get you awake and alert. Lemon and ginger are both ideal for nausea so this is perfect if you are feeling a little sick !
This combination also triggers digestion, helping to rid you of the harmful waste products produced when we consume alcohol. Getting rid of these is essential for shaking off a hangover.
I recommend that you make it as soon as you get up and drink it whilst you’re getting ready for work.
2. Supplement Wisely
Not only is alcohol an anti-nutrient, but whilst our body concentrates on getting it out of our systems it uses up our vitamins and minerals, whilst also creating harmful free radicals. The result of this is low energy, reduced immunity, headaches and bad skin. Taking a good quality supplement can help to give the body an easy boost, so if you plan to drink more than usual this party season, adding one into your regimes is a must.
It’s key to find something that supports detoxification whilst delivering an array of essential nutrients, antioxidants and energising botanicals. I also like probiotics as these help to support digestion and prevent further toxicity. For an easy solution that delivers all of this I'd recommend Digestion Plus
If you need something for December, I advise combining a good quality multi vitamin, with a greens powder which is ideal added into a drop of fresh juice or a smoothie first thing (just before the hot water and lemon) after a heavy night. If you’re able to, I also recommend having a dose before bed to give the liver a leg up whilst you’re sleeping.
3. Eat Eggs for Breakfast
Once you’ve followed steps one and two you may feel ready to eat something – try not to leave it too long, ideally within two hours of having woken up. The right type of food is key for shaking off a hangover, and there is a real science to this. Firstly it’s essential to get a good combination of wholegrain/complex carbs, protein and healthy fats, which will deliver sustained energy to prevent the peaks and troughs that often accompany a hangover. You also want foods that deliver nutrients to boost detox and energy whilst replenishing salts and electrolytes.
The breakfast that does all of this is smashed avocado on toast with eggs. Whether it’s poached, boiled or fried (in coconut oil), protein and B-vitamin rich eggs support detox and balance blood sugar whilst containing cysteine – an amino acid that breaks some acetyl-aldehyde, a toxic byproduct produced when alcohol is broken down in the body. Pair this with nutrient dense, comforting avocado alongside cracked with salt and pepper and some dried chilli flakes (if you can handle it) whereupon and a multitude of sins may start to be washed away. Many convenience cafés (like M&S, Pret, Pod, Benugo, Eat, Itsu, Vital etc) now sell eggs, often with avocado or smoked salmon so buying something similar readymade on the way to work shouldn't be too difficult.
Sweat is an easy way for the body to excrete things it wants to get rid of, which is why you may notice being more sweaty when you drink alcohol or feel hungover. Though it may not be particularly pleasant, this is totally natural and helps to clear the body of unwanted compounds that can ease a hangover.
Exercise is the obvious way to get a sweat on, but even just going for a walk outside can help get things moving as well as stimulating the lymph to prevent sluggishness. Oxygenating the body with fresh air is an added bonus, helping to blow out the cobwebs and relieve nausea. If you can walk or cycle to work, or get out a couple of train/bus stops early then make the effort and you’ll likely feel better faster.
Remember to re-hydrate with plenty of water or herbal teas over the course of the day.
Just because you have to drink water and green juices doesn’t mean caffeine is totally off limits. In fact, it can boost energy, rid a headache and sharpen your reflexes. Though one cup a day of each is fine, don’t overdo coffee and black tea as this can contribute to energy fluctuations and make you feel wired.
Instead drink good quality green tea, white tea or jasmine. These contain caffeine alongside a burst of antioxidants and brain boosting compounds such as EGCG which are famed for their health giving properties. These also help to get your brain power back and can support memory (great until you start getting worrying flashbacks from last night).
Matcha powder is a great solution as it contains a hit of caffeine alongside a high dose of many hangover relieving compounds. Try a matcha latte rather (many high street cafés now sell these) than hot chocolate or chai lattes and you may well feel more with it.
Or my go to when I need quick pick-me-up - a Fizz Stick which is a natural kick-starter. Its a refreshing bubbly drink and when you start to feel tired it temporarily helps promote alertness and enhances cognitive performance, it also helps to promote endurance and enhance motor performance, whilst reducing fatigue. Contains antioxidants and a botanical blend of green tea, guarana and ginseng, combined with B vitamins and chromium, to help boost energy.
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Your guide to living whole and well. Emma Olliff is a Registered Nutritional Therapist, wellness expert, food lover, and advocate for healthy living!