March 1st and the big first drink

27 Feb 2013|FebFast

A few Christmases ago, I remember watching my 5 year old daughter rush to open the first of her presents. She was so excited that in her fervour to rip open the wrapping paper, her hand slipped and she punched herself in the face. She laughed and cried at the same time and then resumed the unwrapping.

I’m reminded of this as many of us count down to our first drink on March 1st. Please please don’t go nuts and end up metaphorically punching yourself in the face with the hangover to end all hangovers on the Saturday!  Below are some sound words of advice from award-winning clinical nutritionist and a renowned teacher of Food as Medicine, Samantha Gowing.

Happy 1st March! 



“One of the best ways to minimize the symptoms of a hangover – headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, fatigue, dehydration, and body aches – is to practice some prevention before, and during, your drinking episodes so…

Chow down.

Eat a substantial meal before you go out to a party or bar. Bread products and foods high in protein, like milk and cheese, slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream by coating your stomach and small intestine. Nibbling on finger foods throughout the night can also slow the intoxication process.

Hold that line.

You’re probably familiar with your tolerance of alcoholic beverages (the point when the alcohol you’ve consumed begins to cause noticeable physical and psychological changes). Crossing your line can easily send you into hangover land the next morning. Challenge yourself to hold that line – set and state a drink max before you go out – and your body and friends will thank you tomorrow.

Consider the congeners.

Congeners are natural by-products of alcohol fermentation. The higher the congener content, the greater the hangover. Gin and vodka have the fewest congeners, while bourbon and red wine claim the most.

Pace yourself.

I recommend one drink per hour as a guide. This rate gives your body a chance to process the alcohol without sending it special delivery to your head.

Mix, not!

Avoid alternating the types of alcohol you consume. If you begin with beer, stick with beer to the end. Starting with Scotch? Stay with Scotch, and so on. For many, downing different kinds of drinks leads to headaches and sick stomachs. It’s challenging enough for your body to react to one type of foreign substance, so why give it a harder time with two, three, or four?


Start your partying with some food, then have a beer, then down some water or juice, then have another beer (remember to pace yourself along the way). Don’t switch off with carbonated drinks – they can speed up intoxication and heighten hangovers.

Sip or sink.

Drink each alcoholic beverage slowly. Remember, your liver can only handle about one ounce of alcohol an hour. Rapid consumption of alcohol via shots, funnels, and drinking games are sure to win you a big hangover.

Have another drink… of water.

Alcohol is a diuretic. Drink plenty of water during and after alcohol use to ward off dehydration, headaches, and aches.”