By Karen Kwan
Tis the season — for overindulging! Showed little restraint this holiday season? No worries. We’ve got tips to help you get back on the straight and narrow.
Problem: You’ve got a killer hangover.
Solution: “First, drink plenty of water to restore hydration,” says Aviva Allen, a Toronto-based nutritionist. A homemade smoothie is another option—“with its antioxidants, and potassium from the banana, and natural sugars, this will help bring your blood sugar back up,” she says, recommending the addition of a supplement powder high in vitamins and minerals to replenish your nutrient stores. And while you may have heard that Gatorade will help your hangover symptoms, Allen advises against drinking these types of beverages because while these sport drinks contain electrolytes, they are also loaded with refined sugar and artificial colours.
As for what to eat, while a big greasy breakfast has never been proven to cure a hangover, eggs may help you recover faster from your hangover, as eggs contain cysteine, a compound that helps breakdown acetaldehyde, the toxic by product of alcohol produced by the liver, says Allen. Plus, they also contain high levels of other important vitamins and minerals that you have depleted.
Also, a painkiller may help you feel better, however it only masks your symptoms. Allen’s top hangover remedy is eating a Umeboshi plum, a traditional, naturally processed, pickled plum used throughout Japan for its incredible health-promoting properties and powerful alkalizing qualities. “Our blood can become too acidic from consuming an excessive amount of alcohol,” she says. “Umeboshi plums help to balance, or often eliminate, the symptoms of excessively acidic conditions, including a hangover.” You can find them at your local health food store. To prepare it: Soak one plum for five minutes in hot water. Then, drink the liquid and eat the plum together.
Problem: You’ve been eating up a storm and you’re suffering from indigestion.
Solution: When your tummy is hurting, one of the first things you should do is change into your loose-fitting sweats so that you’re more comfortable, says Mary Bamford, a registered dietitian based in Toronto. Then go for a walk. “Overeating causes sleepiness, but avoid the temptation is to take a nap. The opposite is the best thing for your digestion—stay upright and go for a walk after eating. Then go for another walk or run again the following morning,” she says. And if you can, go to a yoga class—or however you choose to destress. “Stress worsens digestive discomfort,” explains Bamford.
Throughout the day, rehydrate by drinking plenty or water, and eat or drink nothing else for four hours in order to give your digestion a rest. Then, if you plan to be awake for another three hours, Bamford recommends eating something light containing carbohydrates, such as a piece of fruit or a serving of low-fat yogurt. “This will fuel to your brain without adding a great burden to your digestive system,” she says.
At bedtime, Bamford recommends sleeping on your back with several pillows under your head and shoulders to let gravity help keep the contents of your stomach tightly in your stomach (not refluxing into your esophagus).
Problem: You’ve been partying like it’s 1999 and need to catch up on some zzz’s.
Solution: When you suffer from sleep loss, you may notice yourself making silly mistakes, feeling irritable, forgetting about things such as appointments and feeling just plain lethargic. So if you’ve thrown your usual sleep schedule off track, it’s crucial that you ease your way back to a sweet slumber. Get back on track by cutting the caffeine by 4PM and avoiding alcohol in the evenings (once alcohol is metabolized by your body, it causes a release of epinephrine, which may wake you up). And as tempting as it is to tune into Mad Men tucked under the covers, you should try to reserve your bed solely for snoozing. The idea is that you should associate your bed with sleeping, not wakefulness.
If you find yourself unable to sleep, get out of bed. A study conducted at Duke University Medical Center found that it took people half the time to get back to sleep when getting out of bed compared to lying in bed awake.