I'm neither a therapist nor a doctor, but I've had some amazing success at helping other people feel better. I hope my book The Thinking Girl’s Guide to Drinking will transform your mindset about alcohol being part of a healthy lifestyle.
My goal is for you to be motivated to take control of your drinking and to make lots of fabulous, health-inducing drinks yourself rather than always relying on the outside world and its less healthful commercial ingredients. And if you need a break from the bottle or you don't consume alcohol, I hope you will feel excited by the mocktail options (see below).
Unfortunately, the best-laid plans often go awry! If you've had more alcohol than you meant to, there's still hope for you. Let's review healthy foods and supplements to consume before bed so that you'll love life in the morning.
1. Activated charcoal
This is the most common supplement used to pull toxins out of your system. Please DON'T take it before you drink, as hangover-preventing products containing it recommend on the label! Take one or two activated charcoal pills either while out and feeling tipsy or when you get home.
Taking it earlier will tax your system because you still have to process all that booze and you won't even have reaped its happy benefits.
My choice over activated charcoal is this milder mineral supplement. I find it easier on the stomach, and you can safely take a couple of pills more if needed.
Take one or two at the same time as you would activated charcoal, either while still out or once at home, and if an hour later you still feel less than awesome, take an additional one or two.
Be sure to avoid activated charcoal or zeolite within a couple of hours of eating because they prevent nutrient absorption.
3. Coconut water
I'm going to be a snob here and say the fresh stuff is infinitely better.
Not only does it taste like a delicious coconut rather than dirty feet, but when it hasn't been heated, it also naturally retains more vitamins, including the ever-so-important potassium it's full of.
Drink 8 to 16 ounces before bed to help prevent a hangover. While it hasn't been scientifically proven to prevent hangovers, it's incredibly hydrating and many people (myself included) will vouch for its effectiveness.
If you're having a drink with real ginger in it (see below), that's great! If not, make yourself some ginger tea, grate it fresh into soup, or take a couple of capsules to prevent nausea and reduce inflammation.
5. Eat a snack
Eating something healthy after drinking can save you the next day—at least a little bit.
The concept that food can "soak up" alcohol only works if the food came first, but having some lean protein will help stabilize your blood sugar, which in turn will help prevent nausea.
Try not to eat anything too heavy, as that can disrupt sleep. Water-filled foods such as soup, any produce, and lean proteins are the wisest choices and will do you way more favors than junk food like pizza or nachos.
Nothing says "hangover cure" like brunch, so what are your best choices? I'm going to say annoyingly that this just depends on your unique body! The following foods have properties that will assist a hangover recovery, but don't go eating anything that sounds nauseating.
Only you know what works for you, so pick foods based on what you think sounds easiest on your poor, acidified stomach. Note that this is a small selection of my favorite hangover foods; there are many others that can also help.
Without getting too technical, eggs' claim to fame is their cysteine content, which breaks down the toxins alcohol leave behind. They literally help you detox! Don't be a crazy person who eats only egg whites, though; to properly absorb the protein in egg whites, you need the yolks, too.
2. Coconut flour
If you want to go the sweet route (which I only recommend you do without any actual sugar involved because sugar will provide a spike and, later, a sudden drop in your already low blood sugar), baked goods or pancakes made from coconut flour are an excellent option. It's high in protein and fiber and has a nutty, light flavor.
3. Tomato juice
No, I don't mean a Bloody Mary! Tomatoes help with liver function and a glass full of them is an easy way to get a concentrated amount, though of course fresh tomatoes are excellent. Just don't add vodka!
While fruit does contain sugar, the fiber will help slow sugar absorption down. Bananas have potassium and B6, guava is crazy high in vitamin C, watermelon is very hydrating, and blueberries are high in antioxidants. That's just the tip of the fruit iceberg. If your stomach isn't up for much, try nibbling on some fruit.
Here are some recipes to drink the smart way:
- 1 tablespoon mulling spices
- 2 ounces Pedro Ximenez
- 2 ounces fresh blood orange juice
- Sparkling mineral water, to fill
1. Steep the mulling spices in 2 tablespoons of hot water for about 5 minutes, then strain.
2. Add the Pedro Ximenez, blood orange juice, and strained mulling spice liquid into a highball glass and stir with ice.
3. Add the sparkling water to top.
So Bloody Lovely (Mocktail)
- 2 ounces fresh beet juice
- 5 ounces Lava Sparks Ginger Beer (see recipe below)
- 1 slice ginger, for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass with ice and add the beet juice and ginger beer.
2. Stir briefly to combine and garnish with the ginger slice.
Lava Sparks Ginger Beer (Mocktail)
- 1 ounce fresh ginger juice
- ¼ ounce fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 12 ounces sparkling mineral water
1. Shake ginger juice, lime juice, and coconut sugar in a shaker until sugar is dissolved.
2. Pour into a pink glass and fill with sparkling water, stirring briefly to combine.