How to avoid a St. Patrick’s Day hangover

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It’s that time of the year again – St. Patrick’s Day.  For some, it’s a religious day that involves attending church services, wearing green, and celebrating Irish culture. 

For others, it’s a day of general revelry, comprised of drinking, attending parades, and staying out late. Unfortunately, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Thursday this year.  That means, for most of us, after all the partying on the holiday, there’s still one more day of work to suffer through until the weekend. It also means that it may be difficult to follow through with typical “go-to” hangover cures. 

There’s no sleeping in on work days, and there may not even be time to cook up a big greasy breakfast.  Forget about the hair-of-the-dog cure, i.e. drinking more alcohol.  No boss is going to appreciate an employee coming in slurring their words and smelling like gin.

Here’s the truth: The best cure for a hangover on a work day is not getting one at all.  It doesn’t mean you can’t join in on any of the festivities – or the drinking because, let’s face it, who can resist green beer?  It just means you have to be smart while you enjoy yourself. 

While not drinking is the only fool-proof way to avoid a hangover, here are a few other tips to lessen the pain of waking up bright and early tomorrow morning:

Before drinking:

1. Eat.  Not greasy pizza or bar food, but a solid, starchy meal with a lot of vitamins and minerals.  The food will help absorb the alcohol and lessen it’s effects on you.  Get into the St. Patrick's Day spirit with hearty meals like vegetable shepard’s pie or corned beef with cabbage and potatoes.

2. Drink.  Not so fast!  Put down the green beer, and pick up a glass of water.  And then another.  A glass of fruit juice is also a good idea.  Hydrating your body now will be much more effective against pain than waiting until tomorrow morning.

3. Prepare your given hangover-cure now.  Tomorrow, you’re going to want as much sleep as possible.  Save time – and let yourself punch the snooze button a couple of times in the morning – by taking care of your hangover needs now.  If it’s food or a drink, it’ll keep for a night in the fridge.  If it’s a pill, rather than having to waste time rifling through your drawers, put it on your bedside table next to a tall glass of water.

4. Get out early.  Try to take advantage of happy hours and call it an early night.  That way, you can have your fun but still get as much sleep as you need.  Sleep is one of the best defenses against a vicious hangover.

While drinking:

1. Eat.  Because you took care of your vitamin and starch needs earlier, now’s the time when you can munch on less-than-healthy bar food.  The point here is to keep your stomach full enough to keep absorbing alcohol.

2. Stick with light beers on a work day.  If you do need a Guinness to get into the spirit, drink one and drink it early.  Darker beers contain more congeners, which equals more pain in the morning.  Light beers are much easier on your body – and your stomach.  Also, while we’re on the topic of alcohol, try to stay away from liquor, which is going to hit you hard and fast and isn’t going to mix well at all with the green beer you’ve already consumed.  Save it for tomorrow night instead.

3. Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcholic drinks.  This will slow down your alcohol intake with the added bonus of still giving you something to hold in your hands.  If you’re worried about you’re friends giving you a hard time, keep in mind that they can’t tell what’s actually in your hand.  It’s easy to pass off orange juice as a screwdriver or mineral water as a vodka tonic.  Remember: Your liver can only break down an average of one beer an hour.

4. Drink a glass of water and take some vitamin B before crashing for the night.  The goal here is to replace what the alcohol has drained out of your body.  It’s also much better for you than any pain relievers like Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Aspirin, which can cause serious damage to your liver. Like I mentioned earlier, these tips do not guarantee a hangover-free morning (only not drinking does), but they will give you a fighting chance. 

And remember, everything in moderation – even on holidays.  Have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!