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Hangover Helper is The Takeout’s feature on how to survive the booze flu.

We’ve covered many different challenges in Hangover Helper, but this morning is especially painful for many. After yesterday’s Super Bowl parties, you’ve likely overdone it on drinking and eating, plus you likely still have to make it in to work at a reasonable hour today. What’s the fastest/best way to get back to feeling like a normal person?

For this hangover like no other, we turned to the big guns: Erica Battin, registered dietitian nutritionist at the Center For Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Medical Group in Chicago. Erica is likely much too wise to ever get into this situation herself, but as someone who focuses on diet and nutrition, she had some intriguing options for us outside of our usual hangover cure (fast-food breakfast, for the record).


The Takeout: People are going to wake up so unhappy today. What’s the first thing they should do? 

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Erica Battin (Photo: Jill Liebhaber/Jookie Studio)

Erica Battin: Hydrate! Water is best.

TO: What else can help get them going?

EB: Take a brisk walk outside—fresh air and movement will help the “blah” feeling. Stretching and yoga too.

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And get back on track! Often people allow a holiday/special occasion to derail their healthy lifestyle habits. This is the point where one can really control the diet vs. it (salted fat and sugar foods) controlling them. Avoid the “I already blew it last night, might as well today too.” This is where everyday becomes a holiday and it just isn’t. Our culture promotes super palatable, calorie dense foods as “everyday food choices.” These foods are inflammatory in cells. Chronic inflammation leads to obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and cancer.

TO: What should they eat after an evening of so much indulgence?

EB: Pick foods that are hydrating: non-starchy veggies and fruit (too many grapes are likely not ruining your diet). Pair these super foods with leaner proteins (eggs, starchy beans/lentils, and unfried poultry and seafood), whole grains (e.g., oats, brown rice, quinoa, and 100-percent whole wheat bread/noodles), and heart-healthy plant fats (olive, grapeseed, canola, avocado, walnut). Use herbs and spices, plant fat, and whole grains to meet the craving of something starchy and fatty without too much salt.

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Try veggie omelette and/or peanut butter toast for breakfast. Bean and brown rice (mix with cauliflower rice) and chili with avocado (skip high fat dairy cheese and sour cream) or stir fry (just don’t over do the brown rice or coconut based ones) may do the trick for lunch or dinner. Choose fruit and a 100-calorie nut packet and/or hummus with veggies for snacks. If you need more crunch, skinny pop popcorn may meet the need. Keep it colorful!

TO: What are some tips people could try to prevent such a painful Monday morning next year?

EB:

  • Drink water between alcoholic ones.
  • Drink with your non-dominant hand: It will slow your intake down.
  • Do not socialize around the food table. We are all environmentally stimulated to eat the closer we are to food (so get the veggie tray and fruit salad ready!)
  • Be picky about the party food offerings. Pick ones you really enjoy (pretzels, forget it) and enjoy. Then drink water to cleanse your palette and move on with a non-food activity (start taking pictures with friends, actually watch the game).

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TO: I would ask if you have any hangover tips for yourself, but somehow I suspect this doesn’t happen to you very often, if at all-

EB: It hasn’t in a while because I get migraines if I drink too much (which blows). I know greasy foods tend to help, but try nutrient-rich foods with plant oil (vs. fatty red meat, cheese, and fried starch). If water isn’t enough, coconut water (with no added sugar) is rich in potassium, which is an electrolyte/mineral we all could use more of (it’s naturally found in produce)… especially after too much alcohol.

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