An Ounce of Prevention

Now that I’m writing a column about alcohol, I frequently find myself being forced to drink. “Forced” might be a strong way to put it. It’s just sometimes I would like to have a week off to rest my liver. (Shut up, friends! It’s so true!) I’ve come to the realization that I will be writing and drinking for a long time; probably more of the latter, though. With that in mind, I’ve become wary of hangovers. I don’t have a lot of them but when I do, I’m not the happiest person – I know you know what I mean. I’m sure anyone who enjoys the sauce has experienced the dreaded and terrible – yet dismissed as something that won’t happen to you – side-effect of drinking: the hangover.

From seasoned juiceheads to social drinkers, we’ve all (at one point or another) woken up from a night of debauchery to one of the worst feelings you can put yourself through (since it’s no one else’s fault that you drank that much!). But this is not the time to lay blame because the hangover is punishment enough. Some smartasses say that the best way to avoid a hangover is to not drink. While that is obviously true, hangovers are part of the risks you take if you like to drink.

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So, this is for all of us! Here are some tips on how to drink spirits without them coming back to haunt you the next day.


BEFORE DRINKING: The Preparation

Eat something “unhealthy” – This is the time to indulge. Greasy food and carbs (pizza, fries, pasta, etc.) lessen the effects of a hangover because it slows down the absorption of alcohol and (to be technical) helps reduce acetaldehyde formation in the stomach (thought to be the main cause of hangovers). Make the night you plan on a bender your cheat night. And just so this isn’t all about the booze (I’m also here to educate), this practice is commonly referred to as “soakage.” Many Mediterranean cultures also swear by having a spoon of olive oil (a little gross, I know; but whatever works, right?) before heading out to drink. It has the same effect as eating fatty food. Maybe if you’re on a diet, this is what you could do.

 Oily food slows down the absorption of alcohol

Drink milk – It’s not backed by science, but some people say this really works. Well, milk is a good source of calcium so it can’t hurt to drink it. Unless you’re lactose intolerant or have a weak stomach (for mixing dairy with alcohol). In which case, maybe skip this tip. You don’t want to spend the night making frequent trips to the bathroom in the club.

Drink vitamins – Vitamin B complex, to be precise. Your body uses up a lot of nutrients when metabolizing alcohol and destroys essential B vitamins. So pop a B complex.

Eat a hardboiled egg – An Indian friend of mine told me about this. Apparently, the protein in the yolk primes the stomach and you’re good for a few drinks without fearing for your head the next day. 

Commit to a certain number of drinks – if you set an intention to only maybe drink five beers tonight (add or subtract depending on what kind of night you want to have), it will (hopefully) be less likely that you will go overboard and binge drink.


WHILE YOU DRINK: Try to Remember

So you’ve done your prep for a night out and now you’re out with friends partying the night away. It would be beneficial for you to try to remember these things (“try” because let’s face it, it’s hard to remember a lot of things when you’re out drinking with your friends).

Alternate alcohol with water – We’ve all heard this one. Drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. Not only does this rehydrate you (so you don’t feel like a raisin when you wake up), it will keep you fuller and space your drinking. Consuming one drink per hour also allows your body time to process the alcohol so the effects won’t be so harsh the next day.

Always hydrate with water while drinking alcohol

Pace your drinking – I know, I know! Even I have problems with this one. The best pace is to have one drink an hour.

Stay away from drinking games – That is if you want to be a party pooper.

Stick to one kind of alcohol – Mixing drinks is one of the ways you can get really wasted really fast and almost guarantees that you wake up feeling like a building fell on your head.  Clear spirits like vodka and gin have fewer congeners (chemical by-products of spirits that contribute to hangovers) than darker colored ones, like rum or bourbon. If you can’t stick to one drink, go by the old saying, “Liquor before beer, never fear. Beer before liquor, never sicker.” It may just be a myth, but Filipinos like to drink beer after hard liquor as “panghugas” (something to wash down with). So maybe we’re on to something here.

Keep eating – “Pulutan” (bar chow like salpicao, chicken skin chicharon, chicken wings, fried brie bites are some of my guilty pleasures.) keeps you full and slows down the absorption of alcohol in your body. It does raise the chances of you throwing up and it does remind you what you had the night before; (but) it’s a risk worth taking.

Stay classy – Premium liquor uses quality materials and distilled properly, which means less congeners. So it might be best to pass on the cheap stuff and shell out for top-shelf booze. You either pay for it today, or pay for it tomorrow morning. Your choice.

If after all this reading you forget these tips, I have one last line of prevention before you tip over to hangover land. Drink a pill before you sleep!!! Paracetamol is preferred, as aspirin may irritate the stomach and cause nausea.

Of course, before you go binge drinking, it is best to know your body's capacity to absorb spirits. Moderation, as always, is the key.

So there you go, dear imbibers. Just some tips to help all of us avoid the aftermath of a night of drinking. After all, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure! Next week, get ready for hangover cures!


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