With the holiday party season in full-swing, many otherwise sane people have a little too much Christmas or New Year’s cheer and end up with a hangover. This is not just a teeny, tiny little headache, but rather a raging, jackhammer pounding, bordering-on-psychotic, end-of-the world-as-we-know-it HANGOVER! A horrible hangover where you promise all of your long-deceased relatives who are now angels, every deity known to man and your own psyche that if they will just help you get through the mind-numbing pain, you will never, and I mean NEVER, do something this stupid again.
As with the 5 stages of grief, a hangover is a process that one must get through. It’s not pretty and it helps if you have something to assist you on this journey. For example: a cure.
As a public service, we’ve pulled together some suggestions to help you weather the storm of a holiday hangover. Even though we are not doctors and don’t play one on TV, we are professional party-goers and have had some limited experience with acting foolish and over-consuming.
What Causes a Hangover?
In order to cure a hangover, it’s probably a good idea to understand what causes them. We’ll save you the anxiety of waiting for this. Drinking alcohol, usually in copious quantities, causes hangovers. For those of you who want a few more scientific reasons, we checked with one of the best known authorities on all things medical: The Mayo Clinic.
“A single alcoholic drink is enough to trigger a hangover for some people, while others may drink heavily and escape a hangover entirely. Various factors may contribute to the problem.
Alcohol causes your body to produce more urine. In turn, urinating more than usual can lead to dehydration — often characterized by thirst, dizziness and lightheadedness.
Alcohol triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system. In particular, your immune system may trigger certain agents that commonly produce certain symptoms, such as an inability to concentrate, memory problems, decreased appetite and loss of interest in usual activities.
Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach. It increases the production of stomach acid and delays stomach emptying. Any of these factors can cause abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.
Alcohol can cause your blood sugar to fall. If your blood sugar dips too low, you may experience fatigue, weakness, shakiness and mood disturbances, even seizures.
Alcohol causes your blood vessels to expand, which can lead to headaches.
Alcohol can make you sleepy, but your quality of sleep will decrease. This may leave you groggy and fatigued.
Alcoholic beverages contain ingredients called congeners, which give many types of alcoholic beverages their flavor and which can contribute to hangovers. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors, such as brandy and whiskey, than in clear liquors, such as vodka and gin.”
Is that scientific enough for you? Great. Now that we know why you feel terrible after celebrating like a college student who thinks he’s bullet-proof from a hundred proof, what can you DO about this fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into?
How to Cure a Hangover
At the risk of stating the obvious, you might want to slow down on the intake of booze, especially if you don’t weigh much. Body volume, or the lack thereof, affects the impact of alcohol. So, if you’re 110 pounds, you might want to drink a little slower than your friends who are 210. Plus, just as it helps to heal a broken heart, time is the best cure for a raging hangover.
These “cures” mainly deal with the symptoms. As was noted above, we are not physicians, nor do we play one on TV. So, these are purely layman’s suggestions, albeit time-tested by people who have had some near-death hangovers! Here are a few suggestions.
A couple of aspirin with a large glass of water BEFORE going to bed after consuming alcohol is worth a try. Once awake, if the throbbing in su cabeza is still deafening, try taking another couple of aspirin. Most physicians suggest that you avoid Acetaminophen and ibuprofen because when they are combines with alcohol, there is a possibility of liver damage.
Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body and nothing rehydrates better than water. It is therefore a good idea to drink large quantities of this miracle solution. While some people reach for an electrolyte-enhancer like Gatorade, good ‘ol fashion water and lots of it, works just as well.
Other cures include:
Eating bananas helps to replenish potassium that is lost through dehydration and this keeps muscle spasms at bay. Drinking coconut water can serve the same purpose. Hair-of-the-dog cures such as tossing down a Bloody Mary are always popular and the composition of this drink makes some scientific sense. You get nutritious tomato juice, lemon or lime, salt, pepper, celery—it’s a salad in a glass. It’s healthy and can make you feel better. Having 6 or 7 of these “cures” however, can put you back where you started!
Maybe the most intriguing of the so-called cures for hangovers are foods that seem to work in bringing you back from the dead. We’ve all heard admonitions to eat greasy foods like burgers and fries or Mexican food or Chinese take-out, but you may not have heard of the hangover recipes that involve cheese. Yup, cheese. Cheese offers a nice shot of protein that helps repairs the damage you did with those 9 gins & tonic.
Just Say Cheese!
Since we’re in the cheese business, (Gordo’s Cheese Dip – hello!) here are some recipes that experts in hangovers – at least some people who have suffered more than one achy breaky New Year’s Day hangover.
• 1/2 pound ground pork shoulder
• 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/8th teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/8th teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 medium clove garlic, grated on a microplane grater
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 3/4 pounds grated Gordo’s Melt or, (if in a hurry) the equivalent about of Gordo’s Cheese Dip
• Warm corn or flour tortillas or tortilla chips for serving
Preheat broiler to high. Combine pork, vinegar, cinnamon, paprika, oregano, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl and mix until combined. Heat vegetable oil in a 10-inch broiler-safe skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo mixture and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up the meat until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt
Top with grated Gordo’s Melt cheese and place under broiler for about 5 minutes or until melted. Bloody Mary optional.
Gordo’s Cheesy Chili Mac
• 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
• 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 3/4 cup)
• 3 medium cloves garlic, microplaned (about 3 teaspoons)
• 3 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1 1/2 pounds fresh ground chuck
• 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped, juice reserved
• 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• 1/4 cup hot sauce
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound elbow macaroni
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
• 1 pound grated Gordo’s Melt Cheese or, (in a hurry) substitute Gordo’s Cheese Dip
• 4 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 cups)
• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves or scallion greens for garnish
Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Saute’ the onion and red pepper until lightly softened. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook, for about 1 minute. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally and using a wooden spoon to break up the meat until it is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the beans, and the hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.
While this is going on, adjust the oven rack to accommodate your pot and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the pasta in a large saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Boil the pasta and stir it to prevent it from sticking. Once it comes to a boil, cover pot and remove from heat. Drain pasta and return it to the pot. Add the butter and evaporated milk and return the pot to low heat. Add half of the Gordo’s cheese and stir to combine until the cheese is fully melted.
Add the chili to the pot and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer mixture to a large casserole dish (or two smaller ones). Top with remaining Gordo’s Melt cheese. Bake until lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to rest 10 minutes, sprinkle with scallions and/or cilantro, and serve.
Hopefully, you’ll act your age this holiday season and focus on that often used but little understood term: moderation. However, if you or a loved one happens to be over-served by some well-meaning friends or bartenders, feel free use the suggestions offered above. Paste the URL of this blog in an email and send to anyone who starts off their Facebook post, Twitter feed or email with the words: “I can’t believe I drank that much last night!”
Photo from Fickr Creative Commons: Tom Baugis