All that booze and cookies is bound to catch up to you someday
EC: How to Recover from Too Many Holiday Parties
Credit: Photo by Flickr user Antoine K

During this season of jungle bell rocking and party-having/hora-dancing, it’s easy to binge on holiday cheer. Between spiked eggnog, champagne, fried latkes, sugar cookies, and other festive treats, holiday parties can take a significant toll on your body. “The holiday time is notorious for throwing people off of their usual schedules,” said Isabel Smith, a dietitian and fitness expert based in New York City. “You are probably consuming foods [and beverages] that you might not have during the rest of the year and in a frequency that is greater. They are loaded with garbage, but seem like a great choice at the time.”

Once the twinkle lights have faded and carols ended, people often feel nauseous and bloated as result of excessive food consumption, which backs up your digestive system and over imbibing alcohol, which dehydrates your entire person. To combat next day awfulness syndrome, the body needs to regain its equilibrium through replenishing fluids. In order to do this breakfast beverages are essential. Water is a must and adding in something extra like lemon, ginger, or watermelon helps aid digestion. Combining any of these foods with a cold glass of water or hot tea boosts your system while simultaneously rehydrating you.

“There’s a certain nutrient in the peel of the lemon called de-limonene which helps the liver produce enzymes to flush toxins,” said Smith. Furthermore, she notes that lemon is pro-digestive, meaning it will help get things moving through your system. Similarly the antioxidants in ginger promote digestion and L-citrulline, an amino acid, found in watermelon boosts blood circulation to aid the body in processing toxins.

For adventurous drinkers, Smith recommends a shot of wheatgrass. Not for the weak-of-stomach, as it can potentially further nauseate you, the green vegetables contained in this shot help to produce detoxifying enzymes in the liver. Whatever your drink of choice, the bottom line is, “It’s all about fluids,” Smith emphasized. However; there are some liquids she recommends people avoid.

For those who favor that hair of the dog, Smith has bad news. A boozy brunch will only further dehydrate the body, though some elements of breakfast cocktails can benefit you. Most notably, the tomato juice in a virgin Bloody Mary boosts liver function—which can be much needed after it takes a beating from liquor—and contains potassium that helps move waste out of your system.

In general, liquefied vegetables can restore the body’s balance, though fruitier drinks may cause more harm than good. “One of the lingering effects that comes from over-consuming alcohol is that your blood sugar can be less well-controlled,” Smith said, “You can feel more hungry, more quickly.” When reaching for a breakfast smoothie or juice, Smith recommends balancing a piece of fruit with vegetables or proteins. An even healthier option is to add spirulina, a booster made from blue green algae, which contains energizing B vitamins and compounds that promote detoxification.

However; for many there is only one beverage that can get them out of bed after a rough night. “I think the initial gut reaction is, ‘Coffee will help energize me,’ but it’s a stimulant so it doesn’t really offer calories or nutrition, it just revs our system up,” said Smith. “It’s not going to give you fuel to be energized long term.” Furthermore, caffeine can elevate cortisol levels making blood sugar harder to control; an issue the body may already be battling due to the after effects of alcohol.

But Smith is not without mercy. For caffeine junkies to whom going without sounds like the ultimate punishment, she recommends counterbalancing coffee with food. As a general rule, she encourages party survivors to balance out their liquid intake with something solid, stomach permitting. “I generally find it’s better to get up, get your body moving, have plenty of fluids, and put something good in your stomach, either with protein or fiber, that’s well balanced to help sustain energy,” she said.

Yet, Smith’s most valuable advice should be heeded long before you wake up wondering where you left that ugly holiday sweater and cringing over bad decisions; ultimately the best defense against a hangover is a good offense. “On the front end of the evening, before you go out, try to do your best of hydrating and make sure that you don’t arrive [to a party] hungry,” Smith urged, adding “It will help to prevent you feeling quite as awful the next morning.”