A woman taking a tablet with some water

How to cure a hangover

No-one would advocate excessive drinking but there are times of celebration when the best of us can get carried away. If you've gone slightly overboard of an evening, or can see a heavy night on the cards, there's no need to write off the next day. Our top 10 tips will help you ease a hangover, and possibly even avoid one altogether...

It’s a familiar feeling – a heavy head, over-sensitivity to light and noise, sickness and a raving thirst – hangovers make you wonder whether it was all worth it! With the majority of us enjoying a glass or two as part of a celebration, here are our top 10 tips to prevent or, if all else fails, ease that hungover feeling…

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On the day…

1. Never drink on an empty stomach – dairy including milk and yogurt are excellent stomach liners, so if you’re not going to be eating on your night out enjoy a small carton of plain yogurt with a banana, a bowl of cereal with milk or some cheese and biscuits before you venture out. However, during the evening, avoid salty snacks like peanuts and crisps because they are likely to make you more thirsty and may cause you to drink more.

2. Limit fizzy alcoholic drinks – it’s true these really do go straight to your head. The bubbles they contain speeds up your absorption of alcohol, so limit the number of glasses of sparkling wine, fizzy cocktails and champagne.

3. Avoid a nightcap – darker drinks especially spirits like brandy or whisky have a higher level of compounds called congeners, which are formed during the fermentation and distilling process. These compounds are thought to make your hangover worse – so if you must have a nightcap, choose a light-coloured spirit instead.

4. Before you call it a night stop that hangover in its tracks by drinking plenty of hydrating fluid – plain water is perfect.

A glass of water

The morning after…

5. Avoid the hair of the dog – no matter what they say, more alcohol is really not the answer.

6. Now you need more than just water – a sports drink or a rehydration drink will help restore your hydration levels. You can make your own rehydration drink by dissolving six level teaspoons of sugar and half a level teaspoon of salt in a litre of water and sip throughout the day. An oral rehydration solution like this, sipped slowly, may help you replace not just the water you’ve lost but the sugars and essential salts as well.

7. Limit caffeine – you may be desperate for that caffeine pick-me-up but drinking too many cups of tea or coffee will only make dehydration worse – so stick to one cuppa until you’re feeling yourself again.

8. Tuck in to a nourishing breakfast – it’s the best way to replace the vitamins and minerals that your body will have lost as it worked hard to process the alcohol.  If you can’t face food, even a bowl of breakfast cereal fortified with folate and iron should help to redress some of the damage and lift your energy levels. Alternatively, if your stomach is up for it opt for B-rich wholegrains like a piece of wholemeal toast with a poached or scrambled egg, some grilled tomatoes and mushrooms and finish with a glass of orange juice.

9. Avoid aspirin or ibuprofen – you may think they’ll sort your head out but they’ll only irritate your upset stomach further.

10. Resist your sugar cravings – you may be longing for a sugary fix but don’t indulge yourself. Sugary drinks and foods will only add to your already unbalanced blood sugar levels. Instead satisfy your sugar fix naturally by choosing fresh fruit for its vitamin and water content or blend yourself a fruit and yogurt smoothie.

An office worker at a desk with cups of coffee

Government guidelines…

Check out Government guidelines and make sure you know exactly how many units are in alcoholic drinks. It’s recommended you set aside at least two days, preferably consecutive, to be alcohol free. You should also spread your alcohol consumption over three or more days – this is because heavy drinking sessions may put your health at risk. Find more top tips from Drinkaware on how to drink responsibly.

For more information visit drinkaware.co.uk.

Now read…

How to drink responsibly
Hangover cures: Fact or fiction?
How many calories are in alcoholic drinks?
How many units are in alcoholic drinks?


This article was last reviewed on 2nd November 2018 by nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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Have you tried out the tips above? Do they work for you or will you be sticking to a full fry-up after a big night out? Let us know below…