How to avoid a hangover – a nutritionist’s advice

Whether it’s a summer BBQ or Christmas party, there are plenty of times through the year you might overindulge in Alcohol and be faced with the dreaded hangover.

Drink less, enjoy more

How much alcohol affects us depends on our liver enzymes and gender. Women tend to suffer worse short and long-term effects. Some of us genetically have fewer processing enzymes and can tolerate alcohol less well.

NHS guidance on drinking recommends no more than 8 units of alcohol in a single session for males, or more than 6 units in a single session for females. That’s about four pints of normal strength beer for a man or three pints for a woman.

The key thing, therefore, is to know your limit so you can have a good time but minimise the negative effects. Follow my tips so to help you look after your body when having a celebratory tipple.

Eat before you drink

Protein and fat help to slow the release of alcohol from the stomach. The faster alcohol is released the more likely you are to drink more than you planned and suffer the effects. If out for a meal, have your starter before your first drink and if out for just drinks, order bar nuts to supply protein and fat. For unplanned drinks, keep a bag of nuts and seeds at work to quickly have them before you leave.

Time is of the essence

It takes about an hour for the liver to process one unit of alcohol so plan how many drinks to have and pace yourself. To help prevent yourself from going with the flow of everyone else’s drinking, order small glasses of wine and single spirit shots or on your round, get just the mixer.

Hydrate as you go

To help prevent hangover dehydration and the associated headache and foggy head, drink water before your first alcoholic drink; this also helps satisfy thirst and may mean you drink less quickly. Order water with meals and between, or alongside, each alcoholic drink. Also, have a large glass of water before bed.

Colour therapy

Dark-coloured drinks can lead to more side effects than light so try white instead of red wine and gin or vodka instead of whisky or brandy if you are likely to have more than a couple.

Red is the better choice for a regular small glass of wine due to the antioxidants but over-consumption could leave you with a foggy head.

Remember that Bubbles tend to make us feel the effects of alcohol sooner, making us lose our resolve and drink more, so keep the fizz to just the one.

Keep your balance

The sugar and alcohol in alcoholic drinks can lead to a double whammy of a blood sugar spike and the resulting low with cravings for more drinks and foods you were planning to avoid. The advice above should help you keep better balance but also have a smoothie ready by your bed to help re-balance and get you back to sleep if you wake in a sugar dip at night.

The morning after

If you overindulge, avoid caffeine to help bring you back to life as it may dehydrate you and irritate an already delicate digestive system, but do have breakfast. Simple beans on toast and a banana are ideal for giving you steady energy and helping replenish lost minerals.

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Yvonne Bishop-Weston

Yvonne Bishop-Weston is a clinical Nutritionist with 16 years of experience. She has a science degree majoring in psychology and completed a three-year Nutritional Therapy diploma with the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. She is registered with the British Association for Nutritional Therapy (BANT), and the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) and completes a minimum of 30 hours of ongoing professional development each year.

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