As I dusted the heels off last Friday for a rare night out on the town with some equally excited local ‘mum friends’ I felt smug in my hangover prevention preparations: I was well hydrated; I’d eaten a wholesome balanced dinner with the family before heading out; I snacked with my drinks when out; and the old classic – I downed a pint of water before going to bed.
I can report that this wasn’t enough. A pounding headache and teenage moody tendencies followed my Friday night of cocktail abandon, and lasted for the entire weekend. I’ll put my hands up and admit there are confounding factors here 1. age, 2. children, 3. lack of sleep (see point 2). I’ve realised I need to up my game in the prevention and subsequent treatment of my potential hangovers this festive season. And here I present my research findings!
- Avoid drinks that are darker in colour. That’s right – our beloved red wine causes a worse hangover when drank in the same quantities as white wine, and takes less glasses to tip us over into hangover territory. It contains more congeners – substances which colour and flavour drinks – along with Brandy, rum and whisky. image from www.alcoholhangover.com
- Get a good nights rest. mmm – that would be nice, and so much easier said than done, but many hangover symptoms are actually a result of sleep deprivation.
- Stay well hydrated. I do love a martini glass, but I must get into the habit of ordering a glass of ice water alongside my dainty cocktail. Alternatively stick to long drinks, and remember the best way to avoid hangovers all together is to stick to the recommended limits of 2-3 units a day for women, 3-4 for men.
- Include healthy fats in your pre-drink meal. If you ‘line your stomach’ before you drink you’ll be slowing down your gastric emptying from the stomach to the small intestine where alcohol is absorbed. Fat slows gastric emptying more than other macronutrients and will stop you getting too tipsy too quickly. Next time I’m on the cocktails I’ll order nuts instead of the wasabi peas and olives from last Friday nights misadventure.
- Eat mindfully post drinking. Towards the end of the night talk turned to cheesy chips and ‘special burgers’ including cheese, fried egg and topped with kebab meat (an Oxford classic I may just have indulged in in the past!). We crave such delights when alcohol causes our blood sugars to drop and make us insanely hungry. An healthy and cheaper alternative to this greasy junk is a bowl of high fibre breakfast cereal as soon as you get home – perfect for rehydrating at the same time as correcting low blood sugars, and keeping them up with slow release carbs until morning.
And so I’ve found the answer to hangover prevention is – beyond drinking in moderation – getting a good nights kip and eating good food. I’ve found this banaganoush and parsnip chip combo works great alongside a glass of pre-dinner bubbles or gin and tonic. Cheers!
- 2 large parsnips sliced finely
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 aubergine
- 1 clove garlic
- 1tsp tahini
- 1tbsp olive oil
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- sal and pepper
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees C
- Peel and finely slice the parsnips using a mandolin
- Pop in a bowl and mix in 1tbsp olive oil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper
- Lay one slice deep on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper
- Bake for 20mins turning once
- Turn off oven and leave crisps inside for another 20min to fully crisp up, checking every now and then.
- Blacken the aubergine all over on a direct gas flame or under the grill
- allow to cool in a bowl and then peel the skin off and discard
- chop the garlic and crush it with coarsly ground pepper, add to the aubergine
- mix together with all remaining ingredients
- add a sprinkling of sumac if you're feeling particularly fancy
- These vegetable crisps are great with butternut squash or beetroot too.
It’s a crazy busy time of year. Christmas shopping is in full swing and the social calendar is fully booked. There are now meagre seasonal pickings from the garden, and sub-zero temperatures mean a few kilos weight gain can be easily disguised under a stylish Winter knit. Discussing healthy fresh meal ideas is less of a priority and is replaced with debating the best mince pies, or the best choccie from the tub of Quality Streets.
Oh dear. How many calories in that strawberry cream? How many squats to work off that mince pie? How many marathons will I need to run to earn my Christmas dinner?
STOP. Think. Relax. Eat.
If you’re starting to feel out of control of your eating habits, or feeling negative towards food it might be time to focus on mindful eating. Mindful eating helps us learn to hear what our body is telling us about hunger and satisfaction. The more we are in tune with why we are eating, the more control we have over it. I like the HALT acronym for identifying if you are eating because your body needs some food, or if you are eating for emotion. Next time you find yourself reaching for the seasonal post dinner mince-pie or chocolates ask yourself am I:
If you find yourself eating for emotion don’t panic. It’s very common to get into the habit of emotional eating. Try to accept that this is the way you feel, and try some distraction techniques so that you put off that urge until you are truly hungry:
- Go for a short jog.
- Go for a drive.
- Have a bath.
- Surf the web.
- Talk to a friend.
- Work or play on your computer.
- Immerse yourself in a project or hobby.
- Listen to your favorite music.
- Work in the garden.
- If you have children, play some games with them.
- Clean the house.
It can be easy to over-eat at usual mealtimes when not being mindful. In particular it’s easy to super-size carbohydrate portions in your evening meals, especially when ‘double carb’ ing – think pasta with garlic bread. Are you actually eating this big meal for a reward after a hard week at work? Are you eating an entire pizza in a restaurant because you were brought up to always finish your plate? But it’s also easy to then remedy this problem by hitting the other extreme and eating too little carbohydrate. I find in my practise clients who limit carbohydrates in the evenings report frequent hunger, sugar cravings, low mood and disturbed sleep. This can all be linked back to limited carbohydrate intake affecting blood sugars and stress hormones.
Including a fist-sized portion of slow-release carbohydrate can help address hunger, mood, sugar cravings and sleep: think oats, rye bread, sweet potatoes and brown rice or pasta. Here’s a great recipe for embracing a low carb technique (spiralizing veg) but incorporating it into a healthy balanced nourishing meal with a sensible fist sized portion of slow release brown spaghetti. Help yourself to a modest portion first, enjoy and savour every mouthful. Eat mindfully and enjoy!
- 1 large courgette
- 150 wholemeal spaghetti
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 2tsp olive oil
- 200g prawns
- salt and pepper
- one large handful of pine nuts
- 1/2 red chilli (optional)
- Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions
- meanwhile spiralize your courgettes (with a spiraliser or a vegetable peeler)
- Cook the garlic in the oil for 20 seconds
- add & toss the courgette noodles and prawns for 2-3 minutes
- add cooked spaghetti to the pan
- season with salt, pepper, chilli and cheese
- Serve with salad or steamed vegetables
Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling:
|Nutrient||per 100g||%RI||per 432g serving||%RI|