The world’s biggest party happens every year right here in New Orleans, and along with it can come the world’s biggest hangovers. Alcohol goes hand in hand with just about every aspect of carnival--from parades to balls to crawfish boils to Bourbon Street, and as you know, the enemy hangover can ruin your partying potential for back-to-back celebrations.
No one has been able to come up with a sure-fire way to treat a hangover, but there are steps you can take to minimize the pain
Before You Begin…
- Go shopping (see “shopping list” below)
- Start taking a gram of Vitamin C a day for several days before things really get started. This will help your body process the alcohol.
- Eat before you drink. Put some whole-wheat carbs into your belly before binging to help slow the absorption of the alcohol.
- Choose your poison carefully. Medical research shows it is not the alcohol that causes the side effects of a hangover but the impurities inherent within the alcohol itself. These impurities, called congeners, become toxins when introduced to the body. Vodka and gin have few congeners and are less likely to cause a hangover, whereas brandy, champagne, whiskey, rum, and single malts have potential to cause the worst hangovers. Wino alert: red wine can also bring on a hangover because it contains tyramine, a substance that can cause terrible headaches.
- Never take aspirin before drinking—save it for the morning after. When combined with alcohol, aspirin will make you more drunk.
- With poison in hand, mix with caution. Carbonation speeds alcohol absorption, so think about mixing drinks with water instead of bubbles.
- Stay away from tropical drinks and sugary sweets! The sweet flavors of zombies, coladas, cookies, and King Cakes (yes, I said it) make it difficult to know how much alcohol you are taking in, and some people feel the combination makes one’s head spin.
- Drinking one glass of water for every drink you down may be your saving grace.
- Eat + Drink = Be Merry. They weren’t kidding. Eating while you are throwing back like a bad boy on a grad night will also retard absorption and cut back on hangover side effects. Eating a meal before drinking may even reduce your peak alcohol level up to 50%. The best foods are fatty foods and those high in protein: milk, cream, eggs, cheeses, meats, shellfish, nuts, fried foods, and pizza.
- Experts say that pacing yourself is probably the smartest way to avoid nausea, the spins, headache, the shakes, dizziness, irritability, thirst, fatigue, unsteady gait, and loss of appetite (i.e. a hangover) all of which can crash your next scheduled parade/Bourbon Street appearance.
- Vitamin C tablets
- B-complex tablets
- Lots of your favorite fruit juice
- Whole grain bread
- Good-for-you cereal
- Sports drink with lots of potassium and electrolytes
- Tried and true hangover remedy: Emergen-C, a high potassium Instant Lemon-Lime drink mix powder found at some Smoothie Kings/Walgreens/Rite Aid/CVS. It contains 32 mineral complexes, B vitamins, and many other life reviving ingredients. (It works on the best of them.)
- Before hitting the hay, swallow a B-complex vitamin and down more water or fruit juice.
- Eat a piece of toast spread with honey (Fructose, a natural sugar contained in honey and fruit juices, will help burn up the alcohol.)
- Nonprescription pain relievers combined with alcohol can be rough on your body, so take them in the morning, not before bed.
Good Morning Sunshine
- Drink more water.
- Take aspirin (or whatever you can get your hands on).
- Break out the juice, and don’t be shy with it.
- Drink coffee or tea but watch your intake. Caffeine constricts blood vessels which can help relieve headaches, but it also dehydrates the body.
- Nourish yourself by eating simple foods like fresh fruits, more juice and water, whole grain toast topped with honey, and a bowl of healthy cereal.
- You don’t want to be late for the next Mardi Gras date, so hop in a hot shower (or bubble bath), spend some time sweating out those nasty toxins. Let the water cleanse you from alcoholic sins.
Here’s one more for the road:
- Please do not drink and drive or let you friends drink and drive. Call a cab or use the street car.
Hangovers don’t help during the chaos and over-stimulation of Mardi Gras—and who wants to feel like they’ve been hit by a Mack truck loaded with pickled pig’s lips? We want you to be happy during the entire extended party. So, this Mardi Gras, drink as much as you like and have as much fun as you can (responsibly). Remove items of clothing if the notion strikes you. Just be careful not to be arrested or you’ll stay in jail until at least Ash Wednesday. This is city policy. And, you DO NOT want to spend any time in the New Orleans drunk tank (I have this on good authority).