'Tis the season to drink and be merry—and unfortunately, to feel it the next morning. But regardless of the free-flowing champagne, the dreaded holiday hangover doesn't have to be an inevitability. So says Dana James, Manhattan-based nutritionist and founder of Food Coach NYC, who gave us her go-to plan for imbibing without the headache. Follow her steps, and wake up on New Year's Day feeling ready to tackle 2015:
1. Drink this before you head out:
"Hot water and lemon is the de rigueur morning drink of the wellness tribe, but it's also a great pre-imbibing elixir if you want to ease a hangover before it starts. The lemon juice in it helps to stimulate the body's bile flow which quickly clears incoming toxins (i.e ethanol), while the water hydrates your cells so your blood alcohol levels don't skyrocket at your first boozy sip."
2. Pick your poison wisely.
"If an old-fashioned or a Manhattan is your preferred party elixir, you'll be reaching for the Advil sooner than your friends who sip wine and vodka. Dark liquor contains more toxins than clear liquor, and thus delays how fast alcohol is removed from the body. In a study conducted at Brown University, volunteers who drank bourbon rated their hangovers worse than those who drank vodka, despite drinking the same amount of alcohol. The best choice: organic wine and champagne. You'll get fewer pesticides (which means less chemicals for the liver to eliminate), plus you'll get the antioxidants and flavonoids from the grapes, which you wouldn't get from other liquors."
3. Drink—don't eat—your carbs.
"Love pasta and red wine? Expect extra malaise and headaches the next day. Carbohydrate-based meals combined with alcohol challenge the liver's detoxification mechanisms. Your liver will be busy trying clear the alcohol and regulate your blood glucose levels. That's a big, messy job, and you'll feel it. Instead, drink your cocktails with fish, a grass-fed steak, or a juicy burger—but hold the bun and fries."
4. Skip the boozy brunch.
"Ever wondered why you're tipsier at brunch than at dinner, even though you've consumed the same amount of alcohol? It's because you have less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which metabolizes alcohol, during the day than in you do the evening. So maybe drink Virgin Mary's at brunch and the real thing in the evening?"
5. Hit the gym in the morning, not at night.
"In my 20s I'd run right before getting ready to go out. The theory: I'd burn off the calories I was about to drink. But no matter how much water I drank after my run, it wasn't enough to fully hydrate me. Half a glass of wine and I'd be ready to dance on the bar! Now a little wiser, I train in the morning and absolutely avoid hot yoga before a boozy night out—that way, it's easier to make sure I'm hydrated before I start drinking."
6. Fill up on—and not the cocktail kind.
"Bitter vegetables like artichoke, kale, arugula, broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, endive, and radicchio contain glucosinolates that increase glutathione, the body's most hardworking antioxidant. Glutathione helps to quickly neutralize and clear alcohol from the body so there is less cellular inflammation which can lead to post-drinking blues. A side of broccoli rabe? Yes, please!"
7. Have one last (vitamin) cocktail before hitting the hay...
"I know you want to go straight to bed, but first, go to the kitchen and drink 16 ounces of water spiked with cinnamon and turmeric. These spices help counter the effects of the aldehydes which are principally responsible for a hangover. Knock this back with a B-complex vitamin and alpha lipoic acid, both which help metabolize alcohol and protect the liver from alcoholic damage."
8. ...And take a (chlorophyll) shot once you wake up.
"Yes, a shot of green stuff. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants which helps to boost vitality levels and re-alkalize the body. This is a hangover eradicator in a green potion. If you have probiotics, take those too. The gut microflora helps remove toxins, including ethanol, from the body."
9. Choose the right post-booze breakfast.
"The best next-morning breakfast? Avocado on toast with lemon zest. If your body is saying no to a green juice or fruit for breakfast, listen to it—it may want some monounsaturated fat, and avocados have this is abundance. (Monounsaturated fat increases a hormone called adiponectin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels that were disrupted by the previous night's alcohol consumption.) Then top the toast with lemon zest to help the liver clear out the last remnants of the alcohol."
10. And drink, drink, drink.
"Drink alkaline water, coconut water, and ginger tea to help appease a pounding head and nauseous stomach. Alkaline water like Essentia rehydrates the body faster than regular water, due to its infusion of electrolytes and higher hydrogen content. (Hydrogen mops up excess free radicals caused by intense imbibing.) Coconut water similarly activates rehydration, while ginger tea helps to decrease inflammation and soothes an upset stomach."
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Related: How to Avoid a Food Hangover