Oh, day drinking. On the one hand, you're a lot of fun. Who doesn't love a Sunday Funday with friends that starts with brunch at noon and somehow ends with karaoke at 1 a.m.? But, on the other hand, you're the bane of our existence, too. The hangover! The fitful sleep! The feeling that you made some bad choices!
Many of us have enjoyed day drinking at least once in our lives. It might even be considered a rite of passage for a young adult. But it can also be dangerous for your health and well-being if you're not careful.
In the hopes that you can have your cocktail and drink it too (ideally with no hangover), medical and bar experts shared their best day drinking advice below.
But before we get to their tips, we have to preface all of this by saying drink responsibly. The CDC and the 2015-2012 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that if alcohol is consumed, it should be done in moderation, which means one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Binge drinking usually corresponds to five or more drinks on a single occasion for men and four or more for women, generally within two hours.
Stats show that one in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month. While you might not necessarily be nursing one cocktail throughout the entire day drinking session or polishing off bottles of wine by yourself, it's good to be mindful of these guidelines and stats. Know your limits and stick to them. And look out for your friends, too.
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If you know you're going to be indulging in a few drinks, there are some things you can do to get ready. "Drinking can be very taxing on the liver: Consume liver-supportive foods before and after you drink to nourish and fortify, like cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and kale), beets, cabbage, avocados, bananas, and sweet potatoes," advises Jaclyn Tolentino, DO, a board-certified physician at Parsley Health.
Before she goes out, nutritionist Samantha Franceschini says she takes "four tablets of Organic Burst chlorella. Chlorella is a natural detoxifier to the liver and can assist in the healthy metabolism of alcohol. It also is a great source of magnesium, iron, and B vitamins."
You know the saying, "It's a marathon, not a race"? Well, believe it, Tolentino recommends sticking to two drinks: "The danger of day drinking is that we start earlier and tend to consume more over a longer period of time. Moderation is the key to enjoying alcohol responsibly (which most of us already know)."
Whether you stick to the two-drink recommendation is up to you, but bar experts advise to stick to lower-proof drinks overall. "Stick to beer or wine and stay away from any neat spirits. Day drinking is usually over a long period of time, so you really need to pace yourself, which is difficult when you have a bottle of booze at your disposal. I love rosé or some local craft lagers. Montauk Pilsner is my go-to right now or Alpha Estate," says Johnny Livanos, beverage director at Ousia in New York City.
Adds Hope Ewing, beverage director at Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Los Angeles: "Session beers with an ABV under 5% are made for all-day drinking, ahem, sessions. A spritz made with a bitter aperitivo (my current favorite is Pasubio amaro) instead of a G&T, or a Madeira or dry sherry instead of a whiskey will save your evening. Personally, I love day-drinking sake."
It's easy to get carried away when you're out with your friends and letting loose. Check in with yourself during the day (and after, too). "Pause and think about how the whole process of drinking makes you feel, from start to finish (and in the aftermath if you over-indulge)," Tolentino advises. "Being cognizant of how drinking makes you feel can help you to make the best possible choices for your body."
Avoid These Drinks
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The majority of our experts advised staying away from the sugary drinks. "As a professional drinker, I avoid anything that's going to get me too drunk, too dehydrated, or too full if I have a long day ahead. This includes anything with too much sugar, which will have you crashing and needing a nap faster than the booze," Ewing says. "While I'm very skeptical when people insist a certain type of booze affects them a certain way, everyone knows themselves best. If you know in your heart that gin makes you belligerent or tequila makes you climb the walls, pick something else while the kids are still awake."
Tolentino also says you should think about any intolerances or allergies: "If you are gluten-intolerant or have other autoimmune conditions, you should steer clear of beer due to its gluten content."
And Ewing added one more to the list, based on her hospitality experience: cheap champagne or wines. "Anyone who has ever worked brunch will tell you that bottomless mimosas are the gateway to the apocalypse. Aside from turning otherwise lovely humans into screeching brunchzillas, overindulging in the bottomless game will have you waking up at 5:00 p.m. with the worst headache of your life from the sugar and random crap they put in those wines. Bargain-basement sparkling wine is the devil."
Live by this rule: "You can easily get dehydrated while drinking during the day," says Richard Honaker, MD, Chief Medical Advisor at Your Doctors Online. "I would recommend drinking two ounces of water for every once of alcohol. It is extremely important to stay hydrated."
Don't Take Shots
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This needs no explanation. Livanos also recommends avoiding mixing too many different types of alcohol.
That's what Ewing calls this method. "I love it when a place does cocktails with vegetable juices, lots of ginger, turmeric, etc." she says. "Even if the health benefits of the juice are negated, it still makes me feel more energized. You're here to feel good, right? If a place has fresh juices or sparkling water, I'll tag-team my booze with these to pace better and keep it all from creeping up on me."
Drinking on an empty stomach is not a good idea. Ewing is partial to raw oysters while drinking (she does work at an oyster bar!), but she also advises against ordering heavy foods. "Again, how many times have we all gone in for that fried chicken and waffle or giant bratwurst, only to have a food coma exacerbated by alcohol’s depressive effects? I love alternating salty snacks with something refreshing, like watermelon salad. After a couple of sakes, the contrast between a salt-n-vinegar chip and a slice of watermelon is amazing. Nothing too heavy, too sweet, or that requires too much cleanup. You’re not gonna want to bother with dishes later."
Arm yourself with sunscreen and sunglasses. "If you're day drinking outside, you can easily forget to protect yourself from the sun. Who wants to be burned and banged up the next day?" says Livanos.
Think About Any Medications You're Taking
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Talk to your doctor if you're taking certain medications because some prohibit you from drinking. You'll want to stay sober if so, and if you have certain conditions, you might want to bow out of the day drinking session, too. "Alcohol can also disturb your gut microbiome, so those with leaky gut or dysbiosis should strongly consider abstaining from alcohol altogether," Tolentino says. "Alcohol can also contain histamine—which for some, can be difficult to eliminate from your body, creating an allergen response."
For pain medication, you'll also want to speak with a medical professional. "Things like how much the person drinks in general and the amount of alcohol that is in the body should be kept into consideration while taking pain medications," Honaker says. "Additionally, it is important to read the package insert of the pain medication and speak to your doctor about interactions and adverse effects, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions. Generally, it is better to avoid pain medications when you've consumed alcohol. That being said, if you have to take ibuprofen, take it with a big glass of water and avoid within one hour of becoming supine [asleep]."
Okay, sometimes all you want to do (or are able to do) is just crash into bed after a day drinking session. But for those other times, a little bit of nighttime self-care might help you in the morning. "Detoxify with a cup of tea before bed: stinging nettle or milk thistle," Tolentino recommends. "Even dandelion root tea is beneficial to support liver detoxification. [For your] post-drinking detox meals: turmeric, lemon, ginger, dandelion, asparagus, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, artichokes, garlic, and onion."
And Franceschini has a tip that you can easily prep before you go out for the night: "Before bed I take another four tablets of Organic Burst chlorella and have some electrolytes in a full glass of water. Again, hydration is key, and some electrolytes will hydrate you further."
It's inevitable sometimes, but painful nonetheless. "Despite all that, if you drank a lot and still wake up with a minor hangover some tips and tricks I've used is to drink electrolytes, have a banana (easy to digest to ease your stomach), and sip on some miso broth (salty and satisfying)," Franceschini says.
And Tolentino adds: "[You can] combat post-alcohol inflammation—a common side effect of alcohol consumption—with anti-inflammatory foods: walnuts, dark leafy greens, blueberries, foods rich in omega-3s (salmon; chia, hemp, or flax seeds)."
So the next time you embark on a day drinking extravaganza, keep these tips in mind and again, drink responsibly. Cheers!
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.