Some of us swear by coconut water. Others go old-school and opt for Gatorade and Advil. But, let’s face it, once a hangover hits, we’ve yet to find a magical cure for that all-too-familiar can’t-leave-bed feeling. So in an effort to not kick off the New Year with a major headache on January 1st, we’re taking a more proactive approach to hangovers: by attempting to prevent them entirely.
Yes, we know, this seems way easier said than done—and, you’re right, it is. That said, though we may not be bouncing out of bed and ready to run a marathon the morning after a long night of drinking, we’re certain that there’s a way to significantly lessen those crappy symptoms. To aid in this quest, we enlisted Elissa Goodman, a certified holistic nutritionist gaining some serious street cred in L.A. for her simple, smart, and results-driven approach to health. Keep scrolling to find out what a nutritionist does before drinking—and take notes.
Before you start clinking glasses, make sure to get some food in you. “Eating foods before drinking ‘soaks’ up the alcohol and can reduce the effects of a hangover,” Goodman explains. “You may have noticed your worst hangover comes after a night when you didn’t fuel properly before drinking. The more you eat, the longer the time it takes for those drinks to ‘go to your head.’ Food helps to reduce acetaldehyde in your stomach, and that tricky word to pronounce is thought to be a cause of hangovers.” In terms of what to chow down on, Goodman recommends healthy fats. If you’re rushing out the door, she suggests half an avocado topped with hemp seeds. Or, if you’re going out to dinner, scan the menu for an omega-rich fish like wild salmon.
You may want to skip that sugary mojito or French 75. “I stick with clear liquor, in particular vodka, blanco/silver tequila, or white wine, as they are lower in sugars and toxins,” says Goodman. “Save your glass of bubbly for the toast only, as the bubbles in champagne hit your bloodstream faster.”
Before you go out, leave an activated charcoal tablet, like one from Nature’s Way, on your pillow and a full glass of water to take it with by your bed. “Activated charcoal is a well-known antidote that absorbs most organic toxins and chemicals,” says Goodman. “Just be sure to take after you drink and not with other supplements!”
Most important rule to remember: Start the hydrating before you leave your house. “Staying hydrated throughout the evening is crucial,” says Goodman. She recommends having a glass of water with Ultima Replenisher ($23) or coconut water before you head out the door. “Both will replenish electrolytes to help you avoid dehydration. Dehydration is a major reason for those hangover headaches and hangover spins; the more hydrated you are, the less hungover you should feel. Have another ready on your bedside table for when you get home as well to wash down your activated charcoal tablets with.”
If you’re prone to next-level bad hangovers, Goodman suggests taking an NAC (N-acetylcysteine) supplement, such as Pretoxx, a half hour before your first drink. “NAC is known to reduce acetaldehyde toxicity and increase glutathione which is an effective way to combat hangovers,” she says.
We all make mistakes. If you forgot to follow these prep instructions, feel free to check out these five hangover cures, sourced from around the world (one word: Berocca).