So you had a little too much fun with your friends last night? Here's how to survive a hangover - and how to prevent one the next time.
- Shana Aborn, BettyConfidential.com
The kids are with Dad or a sitter, you're wearing clothes that aren't torn or juice-stained, and you're on your way to meet your friends for some grown-up conversation. For many moms, that means having a drink or two - and when you're enjoying a well-deserved girls' night out, who could blame you for ordering a few more?
Certainly not Betty. (But she also knows you're too smart to overdo it every time, or to drive afterward even if you're only slightly buzzed.) That said, on those occasions when you know you're likely to go beyond your normal limits, play it smart and avoid paying for it the next day with a walloping hangover. Just follow some time-honored mom-advice:
Finish your dinner, young lady. Drinking on an empty stomach is a one-way ticket to morning-after misery. Food helps keep alcohol from getting absorbed too quickly into your body, so eat a good meal before you go out - preferably something with polyunsaturated fats and whole grains. (Salmon with brown rice, anyone?)
It's nice to share. Let your Cosmos share your tummy with not-so-naughty beverages, and your body will thank you in the morning. Why? "Alcohol inhibits a hormone called ADH, which is an anti-diuretic hormone that regulates body water," explains Dr. John Brick, an alcohol research scientist and executive director of Intoxikon International, an alcohol and drug education facility. In other words, booze makes your body lose water more quickly, leading to the dehydration that leaves your mouth dry and head pounding.
Have a glass of water or diet soda between drinks; it'll keep you hydrated and possibly fill you up enough to prevent you from going overboard on the hard stuff.
Not so fast! The more slowly you drink, the more time your body has to metabolize the alcohol. One drink an hour (or two at most) is what you should be aiming for, so skip the whiskey shots. Put your glass down after every sip, and get into the conversation to keep your mouth busy with something other than margaritas. (BP, the Gores, Celine's twins, SATC2 - it's not like there's nothing to talk about!)
You need your rest. That business about alcohol helping you sleep better? So wrong. Liquor actually disturbs your deep sleep patterns - and that, coupled with dehydration-related fatigue, is what leaves you feeling totally drained. Not the best shape to be in when the kids start jumping into your bed at 6:30 in the morning. If you know you're going to be having a few, your best bet is either to leave early or to arrange an overnight for the kids so you can sleep in.
Don't eat too much junk food. Or junk drinks, if you will. Sugary mudslides, daiquiris and Long Island iced teas are so yummy that it's easy to forget there's alcohol in them. (Please don't even get us started on the calorie count.) If you tend to pig out on dessert-y libations, stick with drinks that let you know you're drinking.
In terms of hangover severity, Dr. Brick says that darker drinks like whiskey have chemicals called congeners that can make you feel worse than clear ones like vodka and gin. And red wine, unlike white, contains headache-producing compounds called tannins. But no matter what you choose, too much of it will still make you feel like crap.
What if you forgot all that good advice and wake up with a hangover? Mom's advice holds here, too:
Fruit is good for you. Especially if it's a potassium-rich kind like bananas. Have one in the morning to help replenish the nutrients lost through drinking.
Cut back on the coffee. Caffeinated drinks are dehydrating, which is the last thing your water-deprived body needs. Stick to water, sports drinks and fruit juices till you're feeling better.
Take your medicine. To soothe a pounding head, take two aspirin as soon as you get up. (Don't bother taking some before bed, since the effects will wear off while you're asleep.) Avoid Tylenol (acetaminophen), which can harm your liver in combination with alcohol.
Get some fresh air. Jane Scrivner, author of The Quick-Fix Hangover Detox: 99 Ways to Feel 100 Times Better (Sourcebooks), says that one of the most surprising remedies she's found in her research is breathing pure oxygen. But if you don't live near an oxygen bar (and odds are that you don't), you can do the next best thing by sitting outside or going for a (very!) leisurely walk. Breathe deeply to get the good stuff circulating through your body.
Have fun - and know your limits. Even if hangovers don't daunt you, too much inhibition-loosening liquor might turn your girls' night out into an episode of Real Housewives. And nothing spoils a mellow evening like a catfight.
Shana Aborn is a New York-based freelance writer and editor and a frequent contributor to BettyConfidential. She did not do any field research for this article, but she's long overdue for a mom's night out.To read more from BettyConfidential: