Melissa Carter

Melissa Carter: Advice to survive the cocktail-heavy holiday party season

I used to be able to enjoy myself at Christmas parties and remain productive the following day, but no more. I learned at our recent office holiday soirée, after I stayed in bed until 4 p.m. the next day, that hangovers are an unfortunate part of my midlife. So I thought I would use my ridiculous experience to help you through the next month.

First understand that typical hangover symptoms like nausea, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound are caused by changes in body chemistry from the toxic chemicals in alcohol. No one food item or drink can cure a hangover, but certain foods are better for recovery than others. Fluids and nutrients like fructose, vitamins, animo acids, and minerals can help lessen the body’s negative reaction to the chemicals in what you are drinking.

Your first priority should be to drink water. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it pushes liquids out of the body. That headache is caused by the body drawing water from the brain during this dehydration. Sugary sports drinks can restore liquids, as can coconut water. Pedialyte may be made for dehydrated children, but it can also help adults in this kind of bind too. If you are up for it, some swear by pickle juice, which contains vinegar, salt, and water that can help rehydrate and replenish electrolyte and sodium levels.

Foods to eat while feeling yucky include eggs. This breakfast staple is full of amino acids like cysteine and taurine that boost liver function. Bananas, dates, and leafy greens contain potassium that is often depleted by drinking, and chicken noodle soup can rebuild sodium and water levels.

Another superfood to try is oatmeal, which has nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron. It can also give you an instant energy boost by neutralizing acids in the body and raising blood sugar levels.

Know there are things you have done in the past to help that hangover that you need to avoid. Drinking more alcohol will not help you recover. The ‘hair of the dog” might take the edge off immediately but will further dehydrate your body and give you worse hangover symptoms later in the day. Orange juice isn’t a good idea either, since sour citrus can irritate an already sensitive stomach. Believe it or not, greasy foods are not the solution to making you feel better. Good news is if you have that burger before you drink, it can insulate your stomach and help slow down the alcohol absorption. However, it won’t do you any good after-the-fact.

For those of you ambitious enough to work out after a night out, there are specific things you can do to help a hangover. Start with a 10-minute walk to get the blood flowing, followed by a body-weight squat with push-up, five sets of five. Follow that up with a cable curl superset with cable pushdown, five sets of five. At this point, you should have less of a headache and a small burst of energy.

I wish you luck in the endurance event that is the holiday party season. May my pain be your gain.

Source:, Men’s Fitness