The Ultimate Hangover Guide For This Holiday Season

We’re cruising head-on into the holiday season and with that comes glassfuls of merriment, sprinkles of overindulgence and an ounce (or two) of guilt, often served with a sidecar of a morning hangover. Hmph.

Joy in the form of all-things does seem to trickle into our social gatherings just a little more during the festive season.

So if having one too many cranberry-vodkas or boozy nogs has landed you on the naughty list– I have some “smarter sipping tips” for you this year.

As I laid out in this article Guide to Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain, be sure to cut yourself some slack when you do overindulge this season (because you will). Make sure to continue with daily exercise (more or less) and try not to be elves-gone-wild with all the finger food & sugary desserts lying around (just do your best). 

However, let's choose to be a wee bit smarter about all the shenanigans that usually comes around this time of the year.

Ok, let's get this party started!

Hangover Prevention
First, alcohol is a diuretic (makes you pee more than usual) and this tendency to dehydrate the body is what gives us the typical hangover symptoms: nausea, headache, extreme thirst, palpitations, sensitivity to light, poor motor skills, achy muscles, and of course - very loud shoes.

1. Take 500-1000 mg of Vitamin C 
Take vitamin C before you begin consuming alcohol. This will help to lower the acetaldehyde that your liver creates as a by-product to the breakdown of ethanol (alcohol). 
Acetaldehyde is 10-30 times more toxic than the ethanol itself, and is by far the most damaging & aging alcohol toxin.

More advanced supplemental measures in prevention would be to take 200 mg NAC (n-acetylcysteine), L-glutathione and B1 (thiamine) or a B-complex at least 30 minutes before alcohol consumption [1].

2. Drink gobs of water before, during & after your alcohol intake, e.g. for every alcoholic drink you consume, drink 2 glasses of water in between.

3. Eat at least a small meal before you drink (or while you're drinking) to slow the rate of alcohol uptake into your bloodstream - preferably something containing protein & healthy fats. This may also help you to not mindlessly munch on all the salty & fatty party foods as drinking a moderate amount of alcohol tends to increase our appetites, not reduce it.

4. Drink higher quality liquor, skip the sugary mixes and "water down" your booze
“Tequila treats you the same way you treat it,” says Steve Calabro, bartender at Rick Bayless’s Red O in Los Angeles. “If you aggressively slam it back, it will get mad and return the favor.” 

Sparkling water (no sodium), unsweetened pure coconut water, naturally decaffeinated green tea and kombucha (fermented tea) all make good hydrating, low/no-sugar drink bases - get creative!

5. Drink 2 huge glasses of water before bed. 
Option to replace 1 glass of water with pure, unsweetened
coconut water (naturally loaded with potassium) and add a pinch of sea salt or pink salt in it.

Why coconut water + salt? Alcohol also depletes our electrolytes so this is a simple, yet effective electrolyte replenishment combo.

6. Take a magnesium supplement before bed
200-400 mg of magnesium citrate or bisglycinate - not oxide. Another 500-1000 mg of Vitamin C would be a good idea at this time too.

Again, it's about replenishing what's been lost during alcohol consumption: vitamins & minerals.

7. Consider taking activated charcoal.
If you have chosen to drink a lower quality alcohol, i.e. higher congeners (e.g. tannins in wine, fillers in beer)/impurities/poor distillation, then I suggest you take 4 capsules/tablets of activated charcoal (AC) before bed, along with your 2 glasses of water. (Yep, I just suggested that you swallow some burnt dirt!)

Odd as it sounds, charcoal has the ability to bind with toxins through the process of adsorption, allowing for easier removal from our systems and can reduce blood alcohol concentrations [2] [3]. 

DO NOT take activated charcoal with medications or other supplements as it may bind to them and hinder its absorption. Hence you may need to choose between taking the magnesium or the charcoal. (Personally, if I've had an especially rowdy evening, I always opt for the charcoal.)

Bulletproof David Asprey would call this "hacking your hangover" - before it's even happened!

Hangover Management

Ok, so you ended up with the "brown bottle flu" because you got sloshed before you read any of the above tips. I get it. Let's try to make it more bearable though, shall we?

First and foremost, drag your sorry butt out of bed, make the necessary motions and gestures to stay upright, then head to the kitchen.  Resist the urge to now fill your wobbly gut with buttered white bread, greasy sausage links cheese.  Instead, consider these options:

1. Say No to Acetaminophen
Do not take acetaminophen (Tylenol) as it's hard on your already bogged-down liver. If you simply must pop something for that pounding head, try ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin instead.

2. Warm Lemon Water
Squeeze a half of a lemon into a glass of warm water or pure aloe juice. Drink through a straw as it's initially acidic, so it's hard on tooth enamel. However, this drink is very alkalizing to the body and will help to get the detoxification process underway.

Feel free to combine it with a cup of unsweetened coconut water with a pinch of sea salt.

3. Herbal Teas
AND/OR drink herbal tea containing any of the following detoxifying components: dandelion root/leaves, milk thistle (active ingredient = silymarin), stinging nettle leaves, burdock root, turmeric and ginger.

4. Tumeric
Turmeric (active ingredient = curcumin) is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and it is reportedly helpful for the hangover headache. You can easily make a "golden tea" out of the bright yellow pungent spice - which is best absorbed with a good fat like coconut oil or ghee.

5. Ginger
Ginger is also a classic herbal remedy for nausea and other digestive upsets.

6. Bone Broth
Plain, simple and full of vitamins & electrolytes (minerals).

7. Slow Carbs
Instead, make yourself a balanced breakfast of "slow carbs" like sweet potatoes, topped with nitrate-free turkey sausage and a free-range egg (high in cysteine) cooked in coconut oil, ghee or clarified butter.

8. Green Drinks
If you can stomach it, make yourself a huge detoxifying green foods drink: water or coconut water as the base, then throw in any of the following: green apple, cucumber, spirulina &/or chlorella powder, wheatgrass, romaine lettuce, baby spinach or kale, celery, mint leaves, parsley (or cilantro) plus lemon, lime & fresh ginger.

Go for organic & washed green foods to decrease your exposure to even more toxins.

9. Sip All Day
Make a huge jug of water infused with hydrating & rebalancing plant foods like ginger, cucumber, mint leaves, berries, lemon & lime slices. 

10. Exercise
 If you can muster up the energy to move your body more than just back and forth to bed, then try to work up a sweat for 15-30 minutes. Done. Back to bed.

11. Write It Down
If you do find yourself feeling rather lousy, use this "condition" as information and take a mental note of how truly un-hot you feel.  Perhaps this could serve as motivation to take it down a notch the next time someone starts pouring you that festive blender drink.

Ok, that was as big a finger-wagging as you're going to get from me...now forgive yourself and move on! 

Have a most jolly (but less-sloppy) Holiday Season everyone!

Much love, and really good organic, sulphite-free red wine ~ from my home & family to yours,

xo Krista 

Written By:  Krista Goncalves
Krista is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist (CHN), Registered Nutritional Counsellor (RNC) & Women’s Health Expert. She runs women’s health programs online and in her hometown of Kelowna, BC. She also blogs daily about current topics in Women’s Nutrition Health & Hormones at
MakingLemonade.ca – empow(her) your health!
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Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram: @LifeLemons15