Drink to a Better Tomorrow: Never Get Another Hangover

Drinking is fun.

I love drinking after something challenging like a workday, or during something exciting like a sports event.

I enjoy drinking during the day, on occasion, because it is so rarely acceptable — I guess due to “social norms.”

(Social norms can really blow.  They tell you to go to weddings and parties that you really don’t want to go to, or to buy gifts for people that you do not have any genuine gifting feelings for. We need social norm reform, but that’s a topic for another article.)

Another great thing about daytime drinking is that you can really get after it, but still wrap things up at a decent hour and sober up in time to hit the sack at a normal time.

That’s what life has become after 30 — I need to start drinking early enough so I don’t miss my bedtime.  You know what they say, “it’s a marathon not a race.”

As I’ve gotten older, drinking has come with a much greater cost.  In college, I could drink all night and get up and go running the next morning.  Ten years later, the day after is often a daunting physical and mental experience. Through trial, error, and research, I’ve discovered some techniques that allow for a good time today and tomorrow.

Drink Water

Hydration keeps things moving out of the body.  Pretty obvious.  Mix in a glass of water for every three drinks or so. Keeps you awake too.  There’s also evidence that cold water cranks up your metabolism so that’s a nice little perk too.

Eat Good Food

Another obvious but oft-ignored tip is to eat a good meal around the time you start drinking.  Sometimes you get caught up in the flow of the night and forget to consume some real nutrition, and the next thing you know the room is spinning and you’re chanting, “I’m never drinking again.”

Drink Liquor, Not Beer

Crazy right?  Well, turns out a lot of us are gluten intolerant to some degree without even knowing it.  I find tap beer is worse than bottled beer.  The popular theory on draft beer is that bars do not always clean the lines running from the kegs to the tap, so you’re getting gluten and old beer residue. Yum!

Drinking beer also requires more consumption of caloric fluid for the same buzz bang as liquor.  For those trying to lose weight, one of the most important rules is: don’t drink calories.  So, with beer, you drink more calories and impurities, fill up with gas, and potentially dutch oven your unsuspecting bed-mate.

Drink Tequila

Another popular theory is that clear liquors have less impurities than brown liquors and therefore, you’ll have less of a hangover the next day.  I drink bourbon pretty regularly (usually with a splash of diet coke or, coke if I’m feeling svelte) and I cannot remember feeling worse the next day than on my clear liquor nights. Yet the scientists claim clear liquor is healthier and I’m not one to argue with science.

Tequila, available in clear or gold form, comes from the Blue agave plant, and is one of the only liquors commonly found in bars that does not come from grain — another stomach irritant for many.

Avoid Sugar

My worst hangovers came after consuming drinks high in sugar.  Diet soda is often reported to have a number of detrimental effects as well, but none as immediate as the sugar hangover.  I attempt to strike a balance by using a splash of soda with my liquor.  Sprite works well with tequila or vodka, coke or diet coke with brown liquors.

Get Some Fresh Air

I recently went to Austin for my bachelor party.  I lost count, but it seems likely that we went to at least 30 bars in three days.  One of the things that kept the drinking in control, was our rule of one drink per bar (aside from our stop at Buffalo Billiards where the punching bag game and shuffleboard distracted us from our plan).

The one drink rule kept us moving and slowed down our alcohol consumption.  The fresh air and exercise from walking all over the city kept us energized and engaged. The scene never got stale.  There is a fair amount of entertainment on the streets of Austin, as in most cities, and getting out to experience it definitely spiced up the night.

Play Games

Bowling, darts, Target Toss Pro Bags (aka cornhole and my personal favorite bar video game), even Buck Hunter or Golden Tee are all great occupiers of the mind and body that distract you even temporarily from your drink all the while enhancing your buzz (when you succeed at least).

It’s nice to sit and have a conversation over drinks for a bit, but engaging your fellow man or woman in some friendly competition is a great active complement to any drinking event.

Drinking games are a great time, but unfortunately, they greatly increase your chances of feeling like a bag of crap the next day, so try to avoid tying consumption to performance.

Stop Drinking 3 Hours Before Bed

The scientists say to stop earlier, but I find 3 hours is a good balance of practical and healthy.  Apparently, drunken or even alcohol-influenced sleep is not quality sleep.  I find you’re better off staying up later and sobering up before going to bed than passing out with the booze still coursing through your veins.

Think About Tomorrow

As usual, there is no substitute for moderation and good judgment.  Just try and think of tomorrow when you make those decisions tonight.

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Photo by im.no.hero