Perhaps it’s the sober-as-sin, Whole30 version of myself talking here… but I find it odd that my friends and I have celebrated the end of every year since 2001 (and everything accomplished in it) by consuming an odd combination of fireball/jaegermeister/bud light/red wine/champagne before becoming dancing, stumbling, butt-slapping, fist-pumping versions of ourselves that party until the neighbors complain to condo management about noise violations that we can’t remember…. only to wake up on the first day of a bright, shiny, happy new year feeling like absolute death – the kind of hangover that McDonald’s and mimosas and bad movies and coconut water have no hope of curing.
Last night Yesterday afternoon, I walked into El Gaucho and blew up over 1000 balloons. Collectively, my co-workers and I made the entire restaurant look like a gigantic glass of champagne. By the time we’d finished, I was ready for a nap. Alas, the restaurant was opening and nap-time had to be delayed for 14 hours. By the time midnight rolled around, I was beyond exhausted. The restaurant was empty, we should have been freed to leave, but we had to pop all the balloons/clean up/re-stock/attempt to restore the remnants of our frazzled sanity. Too tired to walk up Queen Anne Hill to my condo, I buzzed myself into my friend Henry’s apartment at 1:30am, hoping to get a little nap in before they came home from Toulouse Petit… I was too late.
I walked into a full-blown, gigantic-as-heck, shot-crazed, dance-party-fixated after party, the like of which I haven’t seen in years. I can honestly say I haven’t seen my friends so collectively drunk on a Monday night in the decade I’ve known them. Even the most responsible kids in the group were quickly going sideways. “BOOKER! GET OVER HERE! SHOTS! HAPPY NEW YEAR! SHOTS!” was the standard greeting I earned from everyone. I was simultaneously shocked and proud of myself every time I turned down the Hello-Welcome-To-The-Party Shot I declined. Let’s be honest here – everyone was in time-traveling mode anyways and I didn’t feel like ruining my Whole30 over something no one would remember anyways. Despite an extreme level of sobriety, I hopped on the after party bandwagon and fist-pumped my way into official exhaustion before coming home and crashing out.
If you’re anything like my oldest friends, you have woken up today feeling less than awesome. Your teeth feel fuzzy (and might be slightly purple), your head is definitely spinning, and your eyes are so blood-shot that you can’t really open them properly. Sitting up (which takes considerable effort today) leaves you feeling so queasy that you lie back down. At this point, you may or may not discover that you are sleeping with an odd combination of midnight snacks, empty beer cans, electronic devises, and/or a stranger/ex-boyfriend/platonic friend. YEP… you drank too much last night. If you’re a lady, wipe the mascara from under your eyes. Dudes – try to do something with your hair. Steady yourself, take a deep breath, and read on – I’m going to help you get through New Year’s Day like a champion. You might not believe it right now, but I promise you: it will be better by the time you go to sleep tonight. You’re going to make it through today.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I do not believe that going Paleo means giving up on good, old-fashioned, riotous fun times. I work hard, eat well, and exercise diligently… but I also play hard, travel constantly, and enjoy the heck out of every moment I’m given. I have a penchant for whiskey and light beer that always makes me feel sick the next morning, but sometimes drinking a little (or a lot) of my favorite things is just worth it. Work hard. Play hard. So long as it’s occasional and safe, I see no problem with the occasional bender. It’s all I know and it’s all I’ve lived… which makes me an expert in at least one arena: how to erase a hangover.
The Morning After
It’s New Year’s Day and you feel terrible. Let’s start here.
1) After last’s night binge-drinking marathon, you have a terrible headache and can’t get out of bed because you’re either fatigued or dizzy (you can’t figure out which) and your mouth feels as if it’s been stuffed with cotton balls. Guess what – you’re dehydrated. You need to restore your hydration and electrolyte levels to where they were pre-binge. Down a couple of aspirin with a big glass of water or coconut water.
2) Make a pot of coffee (I like to keep Starbucks Via around specifically for fast coffee on hungover mornings). Coffee will reduce the swelling of blood vessels that are contributing to your headache. It’ll wake you up without dehydrating you as much as that old wive’s tale dictates.
3) I hate to say it, but you might benefit from some exercise. Keep it brief (walk to your neighbors house and have him cook breakfast). Keep it intense (hit the stair well in your condo for a few climbs). It will keep you from dying the slow death you’re feeling right now.
4) Once you can stomach it, breakfast should consist of one of four things. Bone broth will provide you with electrolytes and minerals without upsetting your stomach. Eggs will provide you with protein without upsetting the careful balance you’ve established with your digestion at this point. Coconut and bananas are high in potassium, which alcohol conveniently robs from you. Have some.
Lastly, it might go without saying, but… For the love of all things good, please don’t kick off the New Year by drinking more booze. Sure, hair-of-the-dog will make you feel better today… but it will make you feel doubly worse tomorrow. Using hair of the dog as a remedy ensures that hangover hell awaits you today, tomorrow, and the next day.
Some sources claim that eating Paleo improves alcohol tolerance, although results are definitely not universal. This theory relies on the logic that, if you are eating in an anti-inflammatory way, your system will protect you from excessive inflammation by default (i.e., the healthier you are when you binge drink, the quicker you’ll recover). If you’ve been eating Paleo for awhile, you benefit from a lot of exercise and sleep, your body is well-hydrated, you manage stress effectively, and your diet is full of real food (If you like to play as hard as I do, Paleo might be a great diet strategy for you to look at in the new year). Look below for some of my road-tested strategies for preventing the next hangover from matching the one you have today.
Morning of the Party
There’s a party tonight! You’ve been looking forward to this birthday/anniversary/raging party/bender for weeks and it’s finally here. You’re getting drunk tonight, but you don’t want to ruin tomorrow. What should you do to prepare your body? Drink water – All. Day. Long. Have a hearty protein-based breakfast with a side of berries, which will provide your body with antioxidants that will help you recover tomorrow. Get your blood pumping with a solid workout. Lastly, hit up your local drug store and pick up milk thistle extract, which has been shown to protect the liver from ethanol toxicity
Prior to the Party
You know that lull between work and play, when you are free to watch tv or primp in front of the mirror or nap or have an afternoon snack? Use this opportunity to do more than energize for tonight. Take a multi-vitamin replete with Vitamin B, C, and E. Alcohol consumption decreases levels of Vitamin B (Thiamine) in the body – which is exactly what you need to metabolize it. Vitamin C can counter effects of the free-radical damage to cells brought on by a bender. Vitamin E also helps with free-radical damage and can prevent alcohol-induced vascular injury. While you’re watching tv or getting your hair did, sip on a little ginger or green tea, which will sooth your stomach and ultimately help your body burn alcohol faster. Dinner should consist of anything anti-inflammatory, such as wild salmon, grass-fed beef or lamb, eggs, vegetables such as broccoli or red cabbage, or berries.
At the Party
You’re at the party. And it’s poppin’. While you throw your fists in the air and make moves on friends and strangers, keep these tips in mind:
1) Drink water periodically
2) Stick to potato vodka, tequila, gluten-free beer, and sugarless mixers.
3) If you’re too drunk, consuming sugar will eliminate alcohol from your blood faster – to stay Paleo, nibble on fresh fruit.
4) Try something novel: drink until you’re buzzed, then stop.
After you stumble home, knock back two glasses of water or coconut water before you hit the sack/floor/couch. I’ve been known to set these glasses out before leaving home, so that the buzzed version of myself doesn’t have to use her brain at all once she gets home from a raging night out.