The last thing you want to happen on the first day of the New Year is to be struck with a debilitating hangover. But the reality is so many people wake up with headaches, nausea, dizziness, intense fatigue, aches and pains, etc. New year, new me doesn't sound quite achievable when you're suffering in bed for most of the day.
While the only way to truly avoid a hangover is to not drink at all, it'd be hard to say no to a celebratory cocktail (or two or three or more) on New Year's Eve. So to help you plan for a fun night without any pain (we hope) the next day, we turned to the experts for their best advice. See what they had to say below, and consider this a reminder to drink responsibly and watch out for your friends and family, too.
Before the Party
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Just like you would do your makeup and get all dressed up before whatever New Year's Eve gathering you're going to, you should also make it a priority to prepare your body for a night out. "Partying can be hard on your system. It has an impact on nearly every system in our body," says Jaclyn Tolentino, DO, a physician at Parsley Health. "If you know you're going to a holiday party where you may be drinking more than usual, it's important to go into your celebration feeling as healthy as possible."
Drinking on an empty stomach is a hard no because it can make you feel so much worse. In the lead-up to the party, make sure you're eating well throughout the day and at dinner.
"Make sure you've had a healthy breakfast or lunch with a good mix of carbohydrates, lean proteins, and liver-supportive, anti-inflammatory foods that are high in omega-3s (like cruciferous vegetables, beets, avocado, bananas, and blueberries)," Tolentino recommends. Hope Ewing, general manager at Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Downtown Los Angeles and author of Movers and Shakers: Advice From the Women Changing the Alcohol Industry, agrees, suggesting you carbo-load with pasta and get some leafy greens in.
Hydrating before is as important as staying hydrated during the party. If you start the night dehydrated, it doesn't bode well, since alcohol is a diuretic and can make you more dehydrated, says Samantha Franceschini, MSCN, a nutritionist and health coach at Parsley Health.
During the Party
You got your party dress on, and you're ready to ring in the New Year with your family and friends. It's easy to get carried away when you're having fun, but there are a few things you can do during the party to ensure you won't feel terrible the next morning.
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"Evidence suggests that the often-repeated claim that drinking a glass of water between drinks doesn't prevent a hangover or halt the crippling dehydration we associate with heavy drinking," Tolentino says. "However, I still recommend that you should reach for the water between each drink. Water will fill you up faster, which will discourage you from overconsumption, and it's a great way to pace yourself. Don't just automatically reach for a refresher when you're at a party—stop for a minute and assess how you feel at the moment. A little self-check-in might reveal that you feel perfectly comfortable at the moment and don't really need a second glass of wine (or third or fourth)."
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"People swear by not mixing alcohol types, but I think that is a bunch of BS," Ewing says. "I would recommend drinking one or two things that are very delicious so you can savor them instead of chugging. Wine, beer, spirits, whatever. Mixing doesn't make a difference if you don't overindulge."
Franceschini recommends opting for tequila, vodka, or mezcal with soda and lime since they're the easiest for the liver to metabolize and lowest in sugar. And if you feel pressured to drink more, add some water. "Sometimes we buy more drinks to socialize, not necessarily because we want another drink," she says. "You may not want to order a mocktail, so a great tip is to dilute your drink with more water so it looks like you ordered another drink when you only filled it up." Obviously, you wouldn't want to dilute a beautifully handcrafted cocktail, but at the end of the night when you're still nursing a vodka-soda, this might be a good trick.
Ewing also suggests staying away from the sugary, kitschy drinks. "Ordering large numbers or arcane '90s-era shots (kamikazes, chocolate-cake shots, anything with the word 'nipple' in the drink name) is not only odious when a bar is busy but will make your hangover infinitely worse," she says. "These are basically spiked sugar."
Okay, this might not exactly prevent a hangover, but how many times have you "drowned your sorrows" or seen people do that when the night didn't turn out perfectly? That's a guaranteed one-way train ticket to Hangoverville.
"As a bartender and a human being, I've watched too many peoples' New Year's Eves devolve into drama and debauchery because they came into it expecting the night would be supremely special," Ewing says. "It's hard to temper your expectations because of all the hoopla and expense surrounding the holiday, but it's so sad to watch people's faces fall throughout the night when nothing particularly life-changing happens to them. It's that last-one-standing-alone-at-the-dance-floor feeling that can push people to desperation, ill-advised hooking up, and life-altering New Year's hangovers. Just plan a fun night out—or, better yet, in!"
After the Party
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What you do before you go to bed and when you wake up can make a big difference in how you feel in the aftermath of a night out.
Before you get into bed, Franceschini recommends drinking a cup of water and taking one serving of chlorella to cleanse toxins. Another option Tolentino suggests is a cup of stinging nettle or milk thistle tea to help start the detoxification process. You'll also want to drink enough water throughout the day when you wake up.
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After a night of drinking, a greasy breakfast burrito or bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich sounds appealing, but Tolentino says your first meal of the day should be liver-supportive and anti-inflammatory. "Balancing your fluid/electrolyte balance will be helpful," she says. "Try a banana or some whole-wheat avocado toast to ease gently back into the day. If you can stomach it, there is some evidence to suggest that the cysteine in eggs helps to break down the acetaldehyde that builds up in our system while drinking. A good broth can also be hydrating, soothing to the stomach, and can put you back on the road to feeling better—enjoy a cup of bone broth or order in some nourishing New Year's Day pho. The ingredients in a good-quality broth are hydrating and can help restore our electrolyte balance."
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Just because it's January 1 doesn't mean you have to feel pressured to crush all your resolutions in one day. If the night before took a lot out of you, it's okay to stay in bed a little longer if you need to. "Try to take it easy the next day," Tolentino recommends. "Partying can be rough on the body, making it important to build in time to rest and recharge."
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While getting up and being active might be the last thing you want to do, it could be a big help in feeling better. "As soon as you're able, you may want to engage in some gentle exercise to boost endorphins to start feeling better faster—but don't try to 'sweat it out' by pushing yourself too hard," Tolentino suggests. "Instead, some restorative yoga or a moderately paced walk might be the best thing to get you back to feeling like yourself."