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The Nutritionist's Guide to Surviving a Hangover

Last night was a total blast, but this morning? Not so much. Anyone who’s ever shamelessly downed one too many glasses of wine, mixed drinks, beers, shots, or all of the above, is familiar with the body-aching regret and toilet-clutching desperation that so kindly ensues after a night of hitting the booze bag. And while the only real cure to avoiding this ungodly feeling is to drink moderately—or not at all—thankfully, there are a few ways to bounce back without posting up in bed the entire day. We asked two of our favorite nutritionists to share their best-kept secrets to returning to life again after a hangover.

Chug H2O

You know the drill: Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you swig. But, let’s be honest, it usually never happens that way. That’s why water’s the first beverage you should drink after waking up from your hangover haze. “The best way to normalize your body fluids and regain a balance in your body’s chemistry is to focus on hydration,” says Elizabeth Shaw, a San Diego-based dietitian. Aim for at least eight glasses of H20 to start feeling like your old self again, she says. 

Drink an electrolyte-rich beverage

Because your body is so depleted of liquids, it can’t function at its normal level. This causes you to go into starvation mode—queue the headaches, body aches, and fatigue. “Alcohol sucks your organs dry of any liquid, so not only do you need to replenish it with water, but you also need more vitamins and nutrients to quench that hangover thirst,” says Isabel Smith, a New York City-based celebrity dietitian and fitness expert. Instead of grabbing a Gatorade, opt for coconut water, a more natural beverage that’s loaded with potassium and low in sugar content.

Eat a well-balanced breakfast

Along with hydration, your body needs nutrients. “Because alcohol disrupts nearly every tissue in your body, along with its ability to absorb nutrients, it’s important to replenish all vitamins and minerals from real, solid foods,” says Shaw. “Focus on fueling up with hydrating eats like watermelon, cucumbers, and leafy greens, as well as heavy, protein-packed foods like lean turkey bacon, avocado, and eggs to give your organs the nutrition and fluid kick they’re craving.”

Suck on candied ginger

Pregnant women swear by them to treat their morning sickness, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they also come in handy when it comes to curing those equally pesky hangover symptoms. “Ginger has been used for centuries in traditional herbal medicine to cure motion sickness, vomiting, and nausea,” says Smith. Pour yourself some ginger tea, or chop up some ginger root to put into a yogurt or smoothie. If you’re not a fan of the taste, there are pills that’ll also do the trick. Just make sure you have some food in your stomach beforehand.

Sweat it out

It may be painful, but breaking a sweat is one of the best cures for helping people kick headaches, bloat, and fatigue. “The natural endorphins released from your body while you get your heart rate up will make you feel 10 times better,” says Smith. “In addition, you’re speeding up your metabolism so that it processes the alcohol more quickly.” Just be sure to have plenty of water on hand, and don’t do anything that makes you feel like you’re going to lose your breakfast (or pass out!).

Go easy on the caffeine

Your morning cup of coffee might be the one thing that helps you function and snap into action on weekdays, but after a night of drinking it’ll only further dehydrate you. “Caffeine constricts blood vessels, which can make headaches even worse,” says Smith. “Also, remember that coffee is a diuretic, so in a situation where you’re already dehydrated, you do not want to lose anymore fluid.” Instead, choose a lower-caffeine option like green tea—iced or hot. It will bring you back to life without further evaporating your body’s liquid levels.

Avoid acidic foods and beverages

Sometimes we can be more prone to acid reflux the day after drinking, so steer clear of citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, or tomatoes. These might sound like the perfect remedy (and taste like it too!), but your bod is not equipped to handle the acidity level, says Smith. Instead, sip some carbonated water, which can help bring up any trapped air in your stomach that’s making you feel even more nauseous.

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