A Guide to Avoiding a Hangover
What You Need to Know
- Drinking in moderation, or even abstaining from alcohol altogether, is the surest way of avoiding a hangover.
- One other effective way of making sure you feel good the morning after is to eat before you drink.
- Fatty foods and milk and dairy products are particularly good for lining your stomach.
- Try and stay hydrated during the night. Dehydration is the main cause of hangovers, so drink soft drinks, or better still, water, alongside alcoholic ones.
- Try not to mix your drinks and avoid cheap, overly-processed alcohol.
- Get a bit of fresh air: A short stroll – even if it’s between pubs – can help reduce the likelihood of you waking up hungover.
- Drink plenty of water before you go to bed and maybe even take a pre-emptive painkiller.
Eat Before You Drink
As almost anyone will tell you, one of the best ways of avoiding a hangover is to 'line your stomach' before drinking. Here's what you should be eating before you start drinking:
- Fatty foods: Though, fatty, greasy, generally unhealthy foods should be enjoyed in moderation only, when it comes to guarding against a hangover, they are your friend rather than your enemy. Quite simply, fat is digested slowly, meaning your stomach will still be lined when you drink, with this helping protect it from the irritating effects of alcohol.
- Milk and Dairy Products: If you can’t stomach a greasy fry-up, then a glass or two of milk or even a yogurt can also help line the stomach and protect you from the worst a few drinks can throw at you.
- Anything: Though some foods are better than others, any food is better than drinking on an empty stomach. The key here is volume; so make sure you have at least a snack, or ideally a full meal, before you have your first tipple.
Eat After You Drink
As well as lining your stomach before you start drinking, if you want to wake up sans-hangover, then top up on a snack or two before going to bed. Again, this helps absorb the alcohol, diluting its effects and reducing the likelihood you’ll wake up feeling worse for wear. Again, it’s worth remembering that fat is king, though almost anything is better than nothing.
One of the leading causes of hangovers – and certainly the main reason you suffer from a headache after a night’s drinking – is dehydration. In a nutshell, ethanol – the alcohol used in drinks – is a toxic chemical that works as a diuretic, meaning it makes you need the toilet more, causing you to become dehydrated. As such, if you want to head off a hangover, it’s imperative you stay hydrated before, during and after you drink. Top ways of staying hydrated include:
- Drinking water or soft drinks alongside alcoholic drinks. Ideally, you should try and drink one sip of water for every sip of alcohol. Failing that, try and alternate between alcoholic drinks and soft drinks on a night out.
- Drinking plenty of water before you go to bed. Even if it means forcing a couple of glasses of water down before going to sleep, be sure to top up on the fluids you’ve lost over the course of the night.
As well as water, specialist sports drinks can also help top up your hydration levels, with some seasoned revellers swearing by a bottle of Lucozade before bed.
Take it Easy
Again, the best hangover prevention is simply not drinking at all. However, if you do drink, try and keep things in moderation. So, alongside alternating between alcoholic and soft drinks, there are a number of simple but effective steps you can take to guard against a hangover. For instance:
- Try not to mix your drinks. Ignore the old sayings, whichever order you drink beer and wine in, the results are unlikely to be pretty. So, choose one type of drink and stick to it, whether it’s beer, wine, spirits or cider.
- Avoid cheap, overly-processed alcohol: Yes, organic beers and fancy wines may cost a bit more, but they’re also likely to contain lots fewer toxins for your body to break down.
- Get a bit of fresh air: A short stroll – even if it’s between the pubs, clubs and bars your visiting – can help reduce the likelihood of you waking up hungover.
- You can get further advice on dealing with hangovers and other drinking and alcohol related topics, from the NHS.
- Learn more about staying on top of your drinking with our guide to alcoholic units and measures.