By Sara McGlothlin
As a health and nutrition coach, I have often gotten asked about alcohol. “What about my wine?” my clients ask with trepidation.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t drink. I love wine, beer, and even your occasional vodka cocktail. And while I have come a long way from my wild ways, getting older has proved I feel the effects even after one (what seems at the time) harmless libation. Clearly I can’t keep up like I used to.
We have all been there, and how you respond the following day can either heal your hangover or add fuel to the fire. Know that there is so much more to it than dehydration; it plays a part for sure, but let’s not forget about the mineral depletion and inflammation as well. That fried chicken biscuit you crave the next morning? Not really doing you any favors. It actually makes things worse. Remember, cravings are a way that your body communicates with you in its attempt to get back in to balance. When looked upon more objectively, each craving can be stripped down to its fundamental need (i.e. sodium vs. glucose for example). Unfortunately, the way our food system has evolved, these messages often take the shape of foods that don’t serve your health.
Here are some ways I help the healing process if I have had too much fun the night before.
Supplements. Before my head hits the pillow, I make sure to take my magnesium as I do every night. I even have activated charcoal on hand for when I really need it. To take, I drink a big glass of water mixed with LMNT electrolyte powder. The next morning with breakfast, I will take a B vitamin too.
A nourishing breakfast. Not only will a healthy breakfast set the tone for your morning (and increase the likelihood that you make better choices for the rest of the day), but it provides an opportunity to replenish minerals while fighting inflammation. I am always sure to include leafy greens, healthy fat, and antioxidants. I love a coconut water-based smoothie, either opting for fruitless or some berries and acai powder for antioxidants.
Gentle exercise. A former version of myself would have hit the hardest exercise class in town just to “sweat it out.” I understand this can make one feel better, but I realized for me, I was just exacerbating my body’s fight-or-flight response (it’s already pretty stressed out). Instead, try yoga to calm your body’s nervous system, taking a long walk, or hiking in the woods for nature therapy. There’s nothing like nature – so good for the soul!
Lots of lemon water. Hydration is important, so make sure you drink a lot of water. Add a squeeze of lemon into each glass to boost the benefits.
Nutrient dense meals. Consistency is key, and if I can feel the effects of a couple of drinks the next day, my eating habits don’t really change. In fact, I pretty much eat the same way regardless. I truly understand the power of eating real food, and know it is exactly what I need on any given day, especially after a night of drinking. When you find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel your best self, ask: what can I do to best take care of myself to get to a better feeling place?
Positive self-talk. Sometimes in life we over-indulge. It wasn’t too long ago where feeling guilty used to be right there with feeling dehydrated, foggy, and fatigued. While this is still an area I’m working on (we are always a work in progress), I have come a long way. Learning a few mindset shifts have been a game changer for me! Release any guilt from the previous day; the “hangxiety” won’t do you any favors. Bring yourself back to the present day, and all the ways you are taking care of yourself to get back to balance.
Sleep. Like a friend recently said, sometimes the only way to feel better is to go to bed.