I used to think hangovers were some sort of myth made up by lame, fun-hating losers as their excuse for not going out. But now I graduated college, and I have become the lame, fun-hating loser I once so vehemently disliked.
I say this because I often find myself waking up after a regular night of drinking with the overwhelming desire to projectile vomit all over my bathroom. More often than not, that desire materializes into reality. And that dark reality ends up consuming my entire day. So, yeah, that blows.
This even happens after I try my best to avoid getting a hangover. Not to toot my own horn, but years of irresponsibly drinking have turned me into a pretty responsible drinker.
My current go-to drink is a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer and lime juice). I make sure to have a full glass of water between every Mule. I try not to have more than four drinks in a night. And I even chug an extra water for good measure before bed!
Nevertheless, I still find myself waking up the morning after feeling like death is upon me. HOW DO I STOP THIS?! How do I stop my body from deciding to violently punish me after a casual night of drinking with my friends?
How about you stop drinking, Candice?! Well, that's a thought. But we're being realistic here.
I've taken the morning puke sessions as a sign that maybe my body wants me to make a switch from my signature Mule to something else. But what? I decided to do some research to find out WHAT IN THE WORLD I'M SUPPOSED TO ORDER WHEN I'M OUT. I found some good tips.
Stick to clear alcohols with minimal sugar.
For starters, I'm not completely wrong to order Moscow Mules because they're a vodka-based drink. And research shows that vodka-based drinks are the best when it comes to avoiding hangovers.
If you're really interested in the scientific reasoning behind this, it's because vodka contains less congeners (complex organic molecules that apparently make you hungover AF) than darker liquors like whiskey or rum.
The problem with my order is in the ginger beer. Why is this a problem? Because ginger beer has a ton of sugar, which is a pretty big hangover producer.
To paint you a picture of how much sugar I'm talking about here, a single can of Gosling's ginger beer has 48 grams of sugar. In case you were unclear, that's a sh*t ton of sugar. To paint a picture for you, a jumbo-sized Hershey's bar has 17 grams of sugar. Every Moscow Mule is almost three Hershey's bars.
The ideal drink would probably be a vodka soda (vodka mixed with club soda). If you can spring for it, try to go for some top shelf liquor (i.e Grey Goose or Belvedere) because it has gone through a more extensive filtration process to get rid of the nasty sh*t that's gonna leave you feeling like death is upon you tomorrow morning. That way, you've got yourself the right kind of alcohol and NO sugars.
Wahoo! Party on! And don't forget to drink water!
If you're not into vodka, the same medical journal that found that vodka drinkers had the least painful hangovers also found that gin is the second best liquor choice when trying to avoid a hangover. So maybe opt for a good old fashioned G&T (gin and tonic). You could use diet tonic water if you're really trying to cut down on the sugar.
But what if you don't feel like drinking hard alcohol?
Unfortunately, beer and wine both give you notoriously rough hangovers. Turns out they have the same pesky problem that dark liquors have as a result of the byproducts leftover from their fermenting processes.
But if you're a masochist who still insists on drinking them, don't worry. I STILL GOT YOU.
Time interviewed Dr. Caroline Cederquist, a weight-management expert and medical director for bistroMD on the topic of hangovers, who made some great suggestions. If you're going for wine, try a dry red (most reds are dry, but if you don't know anything about wine like me, go for a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot) with a lower alcohol content.
If you are going for beer, try out a light beer (if you can get your hands on a Bud Select 55, it is both light in alcohol and calories. If not, any standard light beer from a Miller Lite to a Heineken Light will do). Both options have lower alcohol contents -- and, in case you were unclear, the main problem here is that you're drinking alcohol and alcohol is what leaves you feeling like sh*t the next morning.
There was a review of research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that found it takes men five to seven alcoholic drinks to feel a hangover the next day. It takes the average woman three to five drinks to feel the same. So, as a general range, try to stay under that if you're trying to be SUPER careful.
OK, now go forth and party!