The first foods that you allow to enter your stomach the morning after drinking alcohol can either cure your hangover entirely, or absolutely wreck your gastrointestinal tract. Or, at least that's how it can feel sometimes. So, you have to be strategic about what your morning hangover meal is, as well as your last meal before going out that night.
Some foods are just better at "soaking up" alcohol, while others contain important nutrients that can act as a buffer for brutal hangover symptoms. Understanding the complicated effects that alcohol has on your body can help you better prepare for your next night out, so you feel less like garbage the next day.
For a quick refresher, you're going to want to eat a meal containing carbohydrates, fats, and protein before a night of drinking, says Melissa Bailey, MS, RD, LDN, a clinical dietitian in Philadelphia. "This gives you the variety of vitamins and minerals you need, especially B vitamins, since alcohol depletes those," she says. Fats and proteins will help slow alcohol's absorption into your bloodstream, she says. And of course, you have to drink at least one glass of water per alcoholic drink to prevent dehydration.
If you didn't do any of that, it's okay. Here are the foods and meals to turn do to help reduce the brutal symptoms of a hangover.
Leafy greensGreens such as kale, spinach, and arugula are a great option when you're feeling less than stellar after a night out. They're rich in vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, fiber, iron, and more that help the body replenish and reset from a hangover.
If you're not into eating a salad in the morning, work some leafy greens into a protein-packed omelette (frying or steaming them actually helps release their antioxidants) or throw together a green smoothie. The options are endless.
Potassium is an important electrolyte that (along with sodium) helps the body maintain its fluid balance. Of course, alcohol is very dehydrating, so by eating foods with potassium like bananas, you can replenish the electrolytes you lost while boozing.
Avocados and potatoes (skin-on) also have lots of potassium per portion. Tomato paste also has it too, so if you want a full meal, pasta with tomato sauce and a protein (chicken or fish) would be wise, Bailey says. Sipping coconut water is also a good choice in lieu of a sugary sports drink in this instance.
Though your stomach might be queasy, you'll need protein (actually, fatty foods might be best for before you drink, because they slow absorption of alcohol, Bailey says) in your body to feel full and get back some of the vitamins you literally need to function. After all, protein is often referred to as the "building block" of all human life.
You can also try protein-rich foods such as salmon (add quinoa for fiber), nuts, and meat. If you don't eat much meat, beans and legumes are also great, because they contain magnesium to help regulate nerve and muscle function. Breakfast burrito, anyone?
The name of the game is hydration when you're hungover. While trendy vitamin IV drips might seem like an easy way to fast-track your fluids, there's actually nothing better than food and water. And, luckily, some foods contain lots of water.
Other hydrating foods include cucumbers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, celery (warning: celery is also a diuretic), and bell peppers.
Anything with B-vitamins
We know that alcohol inhibits the absorption of B-vitamins (vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12), Bailey says, which your body needs to support your metabolism and provide energy.
Fortified cereal and Greek yogurt are also easy sources of B12. You can find folate in dark leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans. B6, on the other hand, is found in chickpeas, liver, tuna, salmon, and chicken.
Research shows that honey may help with your hangover because of its high fructose content. Although more research needs to be done before experts can definitively say whether the sweet stuff can cut short your recovery time, one study of 50 adults found that honey could help the body rid itself of alcohol more quickly.
Try swallowing a spoonful of honey, or stir it into your favorite tea.