Finding foods that lessen the after-effects of a night out

Cropsick, crapulent, carpenters in the forehead. You’re hungover. How did you get here (again)? The following will in no way help you to answer any line of questioning you may have for yourself on the subject, but it may provide some remedial insight for the oft-underestimated, yet impossible to ignore, hangover.

A hangover, otherwise known as the disagreeable effects related to the over-consumption of alcohol, is a likely experience even if you choose to imbibe just once. There are, however, some common tactics to prevent the onset of such unfavourable symptoms. For example, consuming large quantities of water and even some food before falling asleep on a spirited evening has long been regarded as the number one preventative measure to take. My own mother, when asked for her thoughts, suggested quite obviously that simply not drinking in the first place would be the best solution, which is a solid answer and worth mentioning, but is perhaps not the point of this piece.

Hangovers have been tying a regrettable bow on excessive nights for as long as humankind has been merrimenting with alcohol, being documented by ancient Assyrians who consumed mixtures of birds’ beaks and myrrh to aide in the passing of unpleasantries, as well as doctor’s orders for raw eel and bitter almonds in European Middle Ages. As for the Germans, it’s said they opted for a more relatable and palatable approach: a large breakfast with lots of salt and flavour. Some cultures, like Russians, preferred to forego eating all together and headed straight to the saunas to sweat it out.

A Google search will yield dozens of results for miracle pills and elixirs that are taken either in advance of consumption or at first indication of bad weather to come. The most recent trend, activated charcoal tablets, seems more like a fringe product focusing on the obsession with charcoal as of late rather than a tried-and-true option for reducing symptoms of a hangover.

Since the cure to a hangover seems to be elusive, particular, and very personal, I set out to find some suggestions and asked my peers for their personal go-to solutions for curtailing the effects of, or altogether avoiding, the dreaded experience. I turned to Facebook, and with dozens of responses rolling in, I started to notice a couple themes. Sports drinks were quick to appear on the list with strong emphasis on the different colours for their unique migraine-eliminating benefits. Isotonic beverages were rivaled only by ice cold water, icy being another theme that appeared frequently: bombing down the ski-hill if it’s winter, storing items in your freezer to use as compresses, or simply opening the door and taking a big gulp of cool, fresh air.

The age-old trip to Maid Marion’s didn’t make an appearance to my surprise, making room for different local restaurants in the mix. For myself, a trip to Pho Hung on Queen Street for their spicy Pho Sate does the trick. It’s a large and flavourful combination of beef bone broth, a special sate spice mix, lots of crushed peanuts, and a small salad that gets mixed right into the steaming bowl of sliced beef and noodles. The idea here is that your body switches to metabolizing capsaicin, thereby temporarily delaying the processing of alcohol or at least putting it on the back burner where it’s more tolerable.

Chef Nigel Thompson of Sneaky Cheats and Satellite Pizza offers up the most customized remedy, a dish that he calls Pizza Eggs. The dish scrambles the classics of breakfast: eggs and sausage, with tiny torn up pieces up leftover pizza. Something to try next time you make a call to your favourite delivery after midnight.

In terms of the old hair of the dog approach, heading for a Hunter’s-sized caesar is a popular option, followed by concocting some version of a grapefruit/vodka/sparkling water beverage that everyone seems to have their own personal recipe for. If food or drink isn’t an option, a shower or bath could do the trick, or if you’re within your legal right to do so, consumption of CBD (cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) is touted as an effective way to move past the altered state of a hangover and back into the real world.

I’ll no doubt reference my newfound resource of hangover cures more often as I head into the warmer summer months. What’s your personal go-to remedy? Will you try any of the above next time you’re worse for wear? After collecting and analyzing the different approaches my friends offered up, I probably have to concede, after all, that mothers do know best.


About Emilee Sorrey

Emilee Sorrey is a musician and marketer with a foods & nutrition foundation. She lives and works in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

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