Have a Happy Hangover

by Rachel on August 7, 2009

Gooood morning!

OK, I’m going to go ahead and get shameless for a second–it’s my 24th birthday today!! I didn’t used to be a birthday person, mainly because when I was growing up, no one could ever come to my summer parties, but since I turned 21 (and this may very well be the result of meeting an amazing circle of friends in my 20th year), I’ve had great birthdays! This year looks like it’s going to be no exception, especially because I can say honestly that on this birthday, I’m truly so happy and free of any self-doubt or fear about the future. And I think that’s all anyone can wish for when they consider a birthday.

Anyway…in honor of the fact that I’m going out tonight, I thought we could talk about what happens when you celebrate too much–the dreaded hangover.


I’ve put off writing this post for a little while because it’s one of the hardest things for me when it comes to “practice what you preach.” Hangovers often derail my healthiest intentions! Drinking isn’t what makes me gain weight–it’s how I act the next day that does me in. I love to have a good time and drink and toast and share the love, and the next thing you know, it’s morning and I’m double-fisting grilled cheese sandwiches and wondering why my ass has doubled in size.

However, three years at a party school has given me some insight into how to have a healthy hangover. I can’t say it’s easy, but it does work.

  • OK, first, be smart when drinking. Know that drinking on an empty stomach is probably going to make you shameless and hungover, so don’t do it just to save calories. Eat a 400 calorie dinner and you may not need a 1,000 calorie quesadilla when you are stumbling home and an 800 calorie omelet when you wake up. I’m just saying.
  • Know what drinks make you the most hungover! For a lot of people that’s wine, so perhaps this is the time to stop slapping the bag and switch to something different.
  • I do believe vodka/water is my perfect drink for drinking! People think it’s gross, but it goes down so easily! It’s super low in calories, the lemon/lime covers the taste of the alcohol, and the water seems to keep me hydrated. Give it a try, I swear by it.
  • Before you go to bed do the following three things: remove your makeup, rub on face lotion/eye cream, and fill a 32 ounce bottle with ice water. Removing your makeup and applying some moisture will not only mean you don’t ruin your skin, but it also means you won’t scare yourself when you look in the mirror upon waking. How you look at that first glance in the AM can set the tone for the day, so the glowier, the better. Drink as much of the water as you possibly can (have a water chugging contest with your roommate!) and then put the bottle next to your bed.
  • Oh and just for everyone’s sake, stop texting and turn your phone off.
  • Do NOT take Tylenol before you go to bed to ease the hangover! This is a bad idea that everyone thinks is a great idea in college.
  • If you wake up at all, chug more water. When you wake up in the morning, down that bitch, and then refill it.
  • It is at this point you must asses the hangover. Is it a baby or a monster? Mentally scroll through some things to do. If eating seems OK and you don’t feel the need to vomit, but you’ve got some nausea and you’re sluggish, it’s probably a baby. If you can’t move or keep water down, it’s a monster. (But anything smaller than that IS still a baby, so don’t try to take the easy way out.)
  • If you have a baby hangover, get a carb-heavy-add-some-protein-but-keep-it-healthy breakfast. Actually hummus and pita do an awesome job of curing a hangover, even though that’s not standard breakfast food. Anything involving bread or bagels is great. If you can top it with a scrambled egg instead of cream cheese, and stomach a little fruit, you’ll do yourself a favor. Fill up the water bottle again and chug as if your life depends on it.
  • Put on some more eye cream and put in some eye drops.
  • You can have a sports drink if that’s your thing, or try some coconut water! It’s the best!
  • If it’s just a baby hangover, make it a rule to work out within two hours of getting up/breakfast. It’s better to just get it over with because it will make you feel better. I promise it will. You don’t have to punish yourself, but you do need to move and you do need to sweat. By the middle of the workout, you should feel a lot better. Getting there is truly the hardest part.
  • If your gym has a steam room, reward yourself in there! Sweat out the demon rum.
  • At that point, you should have passed the point at which an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet seems like a good option. You should be feeling ready to take on anything, but you might need a mid-afternoon nap, which is totally OK. Have a healthy lunch and dinner, and you should be good to go. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not in the mood for a huge green salad–give in and have a turkey burger and some sweet potato fries. Compromise!
  • If you are experiencing a monster hangover, let me give you one thing I’ve learned from four years as a drunkass: stay in bed. STAY IN YOUR BED, GIRL. If you get out of bed, you will absolutely want brunch. And while brunch can be perfectly healthy, let’s be realistic–it’s not going to be on this day. You’re not going to get the fruit plate when you can get the home fries.
  • You are tired. You are miserable. You can, and should, sleep this off. Drink water like it’s your job, but do not go in search of food until the true misery has passed. If you get up before that, you’d eat a greasy leftover taco you found on the frat floor bathroom because you think it will make your stomach feel better.
  • Make a deal with yourself that you have to work out by 6 PM if you have a monster hangover. That gives you an entire day to lie around (because remember, you’re not allowed to leave) and not do jack. You don’t have to work out with the nausea that hits at 10 AM. But you do have to take care of yourself well enough that you can get to the gym to sweat it out by 6 PM.
  • No matter how bad your hangover is, avoid dairy, especially cheese. This causes bloating in so many people, and the day after drinking, you really do not need that.

The hardest part of having a healthy hangover is the first few hours. Drinking interferes with so many people’s weight loss plans, and it’s the hungover behavior that can really catch up to you. Do not look at a little dehydration as an excuse to go buckwild on a basket of fries. Stay strong! You will feel so, so much better if you do.

I’m sure all this talk made you want to down a Bloody Mary right now!

Have a great Friday!

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