How To Beat Your Melbourne Cup Hangover The Right Way
We sorted the hangover cure fact from fiction and oh boy were we surprised.
At big, buzzy events like the Melbourne Cup -- see also Christmas Day, New Year's Eve ... the list goes on -- there's usually a bit of booze flowing and most of us will indulge in a glass or two. No biggie.
It's when that glass or two turns into more, then more, then sometimes even a tiny bit more than waking up with a hangover the following day is about as certain as death and taxes.
And we've certainly all had a hangover that's made us wish for death. One of those skull-crushing, stomach-churning, life-draining horrors that nothing -- NOTHING -- can fix.
To help us pull ourselves together after a few too many the night before we chatted to Sydney-based dietitian and sports nutritionist Robbie Clark.
Clark walked us through the food and drink do's -- and more importantly don'ts -- when it comes to soothing a sore head, as well as some nifty tips for preventing a hangover in the first place.
And no, none require you to go teetotal (unless you want to, that is.)
Clark's hangover don'ts
The 'Hair of the Dog'
The old wives' -- or husbands' -- tale of doubling down on a heavy night of drinking with yet more drinking isn't such a good idea, according to Clark.
"It will provide a numbing effect, initially, but all you're doing is prolonging the inevitable, and it will likely make your hangover symptoms worse," he told 10 daily.
"Your body has to process all the toxins you spent loading it up the night (or day) before, and giving it additional amounts of alcohol just extends the timetable."
We'll pass on the Bloody Mary, then.
Throwing back a few painkillers before rolling into bed after a big pub sesh sounds like a plan to avoid or at least soften the hangover blow in the AM but again, it's wishful thinking. In fact, it could be harmful.
"While [Panadol] may help ease the symptom of a headache, acetaminophen can cause great havoc on your liver if ingested while intoxicated," Clark said.
The reason being is that when your liver is busy metabolising the alcohol you've consumed, it processes the painkiller differently than it otherwise would. As a result, toxic compounds are produced that can cause inflammation and damage to the liver.
Clark warned that popping Panadol could also potentially increase the chance of bleeding in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract as it's already inflamed from the alcohol.
"My advice is unless you've just got a killer headache, you're probably better off avoiding the Panadol and drinking lots of water and getting some rest."
A big, greasy fry up
Hold the bacon, hash browns, burgers and fried chicken, 'cause contrary to popular belief, a big greasy brekkie is not what you or your hangover needs.
"A large, fatty meal is going to be more difficult for your stomach to digest," Clark told 10 daily.
Apparently, fried foods may irritate the gut causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and or cramping. No thanks.
Clark's hangover do's
Opt for eggs
Okay, so a trip to Maccas is off the cards but Clark told 10 daily that you don't have to throw your dream of a hot and (slightly) greasy breakfast out the window.
"There is some science behind the tradition of eggs for the morning after. Egg yolks are rich in cysteine, an amino acid that scientists believe may break down acetaldehyde, a toxin that is produced when the liver processes alcohol, which is also responsible for some hangover symptoms."
See the light
There is a smarter way to feed a hungry hangover. Lighter food like dry toast, boiled rice or pasta, plain yoghurt or stewed fruit -- plus plenty of fluid -- are all solid options.
"Freshly squeezed juices are a great way to increase fluid intake as well as providing vitamin C, which may assist the liver in flushing the toxins from the alcohol," was Clark's tip.
Fruit is packed with fructose -- a special type of carb -- that helps to naturally boost the body’s energy, while high fibre content will also assist your body in breaking down and absorbing the remains of last night’s booze.
Since alcohol can have a diuretic effect -- that is, it makes you pee a lot -- fruit will also restore the vitamins and nutrients that are lost on all your toilet trips.
Go bananas ... and coconuts
Bananas are another champion hangover-healing food since they're high in potassium, which Clark explained is an electrolyte that is lost when we sip a few coldies.
Speaking of sipping, opt for bevvies that contain electrolytes such as coconut water, Gatorade or even Hydralyte sachets.
"[These] can be very beneficial to consume before you go to bed or the following day," Clark said.
Clark's hangover-friendly menu
Here are some tasty meals that feature Clark's fave hangover-soothing ingredients.
A whole wheat scrambled egg wrap with diced tomato, avocado, salsa and (optional) lean bacon.
Poached eggs on wholemeal or multigrain toast, grilled tomato, spinach and avocado.
Protein banana smoothie consisting protein powder (preferably pea-based), almond or coconut milk, banana (or other fruit of your choice), chia seeds.
Soups like miso or chicken.
Porridge made with almond milk topped with sliced banana and chia seeds.
Chia pudding made with coconut milk or water.
Smashed avocado with feta and tomatoes -- feel free to add an egg -- served on wholemeal or multigrain toast.
Before you go boozin'
What if you could avoid the hangover altogether? Well, that's not entirely possible but according to Clark there are two things you can do before you hit the town.
A solid meal will cause your stomach to focus on slowing the movement of food and liquid through your body so the digestive process can occur. If you don’t eat before you drink, the alcohol will essentially be absorbed a lot faster into your blood stream.
"Go for fat and protein-loaded foods to provide a nice slow-burning meal to help regulate the absorption of alcohol," was Clark's tip.
Dehydration is the most common cause of a hangover and the key to avoiding one is to drink water (or coconut water) before you go out drinking, while you are out and before you go to bed, said Clark.
That all said, it’s important to note that we all absorb and metabolise alcohol at different rates, and there are many factors that contribute to the severity of a hangover.
Of course, nothing prevents a hangover like drinking responsibly, or simply not drinking at all.
Feature Image: Getty.