While it's not something I'm proud of, I've got plenty of hangovers under my belt. See, despite all of my healthy practices—yoga, deep breathing, clean cosmetics, brown rice and kale eating—I'm just not that great at saying no to that third or fourth drink once I get going. Bless those of you who are—and damn those of you who are immune to hangovers altogether! Apparently you exist, and you are lucky. But while I am working on my to-don't list (new rule: don't drink before dinner), I've also concluded that the only thing worse than a hangover is the guilt and self-loathing that can come with it.
And where does that take most of us? Why, straight to the couch with a big bag of chips, or some other crap we're craving that can leave us feeling worse than before—as we try desperately to fill that hangover hole in our hearts. This got us thinking: Short of avoiding hangovers altogether (genius!), there has to be a more holistic approach to dealing with them when they happen. So, since we know there are no silver bullets for too much booze anyways, Siobhan and I culled our top ten healthy tips for healing after a night of hard partying.
Got any to add?
Have some miso soup with your eggs. This is totally a thing in Japan. Miso soup replaces a lot of things our bodies need to feel better: water, sodium, and other nutrients depleted by the diuretic effects of the alcohol. Because it's a fermented food that contains healthy bacteria, miso can also aid with digestion. Too much alcohol is known to disrupt the stomach's lining and can often result in unpleasant digestive side effects—let's leave it at that. Oh and the cysteine in eggs breaks down the hangover-causing toxin acetaldehyde, so they really are a good breakfast choice post-boozing (and don't skip the yellows).
Take a handful of omega 3s—and then repeat. There's not much omegas aren't good for. Take them when you get home; take them when you wake up; take them take them take them. Alcohol causes inflammation (which is at the root of most health problems), and omegas are proven to fight that inflammation a serious way. They will also help combat some of the unpleasant side effects of alcohol on your face, like dry, aggro, blotchy skin. Just trust us on this one.
Drink kombucha tea. Yeah, the weird stuff with the floaties at the bottom that actually can contain a bit of alcohol itself. Maybe it's a hair-of-the-dog thing, but kombucha absolutely makes us feel better when we have a hangover. Again, it's fermented, which means it's really good for your sad little tummy. And if you don't believe us just ask more seasoned hangover experts like Lindsey Lohan and the ladies at Jezebel.
Have sex or just a good cuddle. We've said it lots of times: Physical contact releases oxytocin and other happy-making hormones. And feeling cuddly and warm about the world beats out feeling glum and self-punishing. The trick is you have to do it with someone you like because, most of the time time, sex with someone you don't like is probably not going to help anything—and definitely not your hangover.
Get some body work. If there's no one to curl up with at the moment, try a professional. Actually, try a professional anyways. I always forget this one, but a good massage makes a planet of difference. Maybe that's because massage also releases happy hormones, or that one massage is proven to seriously boost your immune system with more white blood cells.
Try some hydrotherapy. One of my favorite activities—hungover or not—is hitting up a Korean spa here in Los Angeles. While these spas offer great massages and scrubs, I usually just pay the minimum to enjoy their hot and cold tubs, steam rooms, and saunas. The act of going from hot water to cold water, and back again, is so rejuvenating. It increases circulation and toxin elimination—some even believe that immersion in cold water gives a kick to the old immune system, which has some scientific support in human and animal studies (though it definitely needs more research). If you have a bath and a shower at home, you can duplicate the spa experience. A few drops of eucalyptus oil into the cold bath is a nice touch—or make the bath hot and the shower cold. Very important: Because this process will also make you sweat, you must hydrate. Make a little lemon or cucumber water to feel extra spa-y and kind to yourself.
Do some exercise—but just a little bit! The camps are divided on this, but here's our take: If exercise makes you feel better then you should do it. Again though, hydration is key here, and it is important that you not overdo it. Exercise increases circulation, helps elimination, and releases a cocktail of mood-boosting hormones. The few times I've forced myself to do it with a hangover, it's totally helped. From a psychological point of view, if you're a bit of a type A, it will also let you feel more OK about taking the rest of the day to chill (which we encourage).
Have a banana/blueberry/kale/lemon smoothie. Antioxidants. Potassium. Natural sugars. Vitamins. Digestive enzymes. These are things that actually really help heal a hangover. Get thee to a green smoothie. It has to be made fresh though, not one of those plastic bottles of green stuff next to juice in the grocery store.
Drink coconut water from a coconut. We all know by now that coconut water is nature's Gatorade—just way better. According to this TIME piece, it has the same five electrolytes found in human blood; that sports drink we just mentioned only has two. Pshaw. Also, it's been used in medical emergencies. I don't know about you, but I've had hangovers that could almost qualify. We advocate getting a real green coconut if you can—many healthfood stores offer them with a straw—because whole foods are always better, right Mr. Pollan?
Enjoy your hangover. Come again? That's right, you heard me. There are some great reasons to have a hangover: You needed a break anyways. You haven't taken a sick day in months. You can't remember the last time you watched daytime television. There's nothing you have to do that can't wait until tomorrow. You still haven't watched Country Strong. Sundays are for rest anyways. Nothing important ever happens on a Tuesday. In other words: Let yourself off the hook. Besides, the only person mad at your hangover is you.