8 Simple Ways to Recover From a Holiday Food Hangover
‘Tis the season for spiked eggnog, sugar cookies, and finger food galore – as well as nasty hangovers, seriously bad bloating and next-level food comas. Here are eight simple things you can do to combat the ill effects of last night’s indulgences and stay on track with your running goals. Because while you are allowed to feast and have fun, it’s also the season for making resolutions for a stronger New Year.
Visualise your workout in bed.
Before you even attempt to mobilise your (likely hurting) body, spend four to five minutes imagining yourself on a run and the resulting endorphin high. Studies show that this type of visualisation can boost your motivation and increase athletic performance. “Neurons in the brain equate imagery to action, leading to your body’s desire to act consistently with what you’ve visualized,” says Jessica Levings, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Balanced Pantry.
Detox your digestive track with apple cider vinegar.
“After a night of excess, the highest priority should be aiding your digestive system to process all the foods consumed,” says Mike Clancy, certified nutritionist and founder of MikeClancyTraining. As soon as you’re able to pull yourself out of bed, sip a small amount – around a tablespoon – of pure apple cider vinegar. The elixir’s acidity promotes digestion and can significantly reduce bloating, gas, pains, and other GI-related symptoms. If straight up ACV is too much to stomach, Clancy suggests mixing it with warm water and honey.
Beat bloat with a banana.
The silver lining of a food hangover? “If anything, your body and muscles will be extra fueled with glycogen for an intense workout from the carbohydrate-rich foods,” says Tory Tedrow, R.D., C.N.S.C., head of nutrition at SugarChecked. The caveat: carb-heavy foods also tend to be high in salt, which may leave you feeling puffy. To combat the bloat, Tedrow recommends downing water—about 10 glasses over the course of the day for females and 14 for guys – along with a potassium-rich snack, like a banana, to help flush out excess sodium.
Fight fatigue with a hardboiled egg.
Overindulging, especially on carbs, activates tryptophan in the brain, which triggers sleepiness and fatigue, says Jonathan Clinthorne, an ultra-endurance athlete trained in immunology. The antidote: the branched-chain amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine, which are found in chicken, fish, dairy products, and eggs. They compete with tryptophan and potentially reduce and delay post-feast lethargy. Clinthorne suggests a hardboiled egg as a light, energizing prerun snack.
Take your vitamins to fight dehydration.
Magnesium, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin C are all depleted when you have one too many mugs of mulled wine—and that’s part of what causes dehydration. Replenish your body’s supply by eating foods rich in these nutrients the day before, the day of, and the day after any big holiday bashes. Grab an ounce of pumpkin seeds for magnesium, a 3-ounce burger for B12, and two small kiwis for vitamin C. As a backup, you can pop a dose of each supplement in preparation for – or as recovery from – a night of heavy imbibing, says Andrea Metcalf, celebrity fitness expert, certified nutritionist, and certified personal trainer.
Protect your liver with turmeric.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, makes the Indian spice an ideal hangover remedy because it helps absorb the acid residue left behind from the alcohol and cleanses the liver. “Turmeric also has powerful anti-inflammatory effects,” says Metcalf. Sprinkle a teaspoon of turmeric on your morning scramble or toss it in your tea to reap the benefits.
Recharge with electrolytes.
Fight the achy, fuzzy feelings of post-celebratory dehydration by fueling up on electrolytes. The electrolytes sodium, chloride, and potassium “help fluid move from the gut and into the surrounding tissues where it’s needed,” says Pamela Nisevich Bede, sports dietitian with EAS Sports Nutrition. Instead of turning to sugary sports drinks (their high-carb concentration can interfere with the quick absorption of the electrolytes) Bede advises beverages with around 25 calories per 240ml.
Find motivation from fresh air and sun.
After you’ve hydrated, refueled, and bathed away the shame of last night, take a quick trip outdoors. “Breathing in fresh air and exposing your skin to sunlight can boost the production of feel-good endorphins, helping you feel positive and motivated,” says Clinthorne. In fact, one study showed that even just looking at pictures of nature (versus cityscapes) can increase energy levels.