It’s no secret that Fresher’s Week can come as a bit of a shock to your body. After a summer of relaxation, home cooked meals and plenty of sleep, your true student lifestyle seems like a forgotten dream. Coping with a fortnight of enthusiastic college drinking and nights out with people you barely know is tough for those lucky enough to be freshers. For the rest of us, the stress of early lectures and looming deadlines is difficult at the best of times, and practically impossible when you are still feeling the effects of the night before. But fear not; by thinking about what you eat before and after a night out, you can all but avoid the hangover of regret; or at least subdue it enough to convince yourself that another Klute night is a good idea.
Firstly, we must start before the night itself. If this article has found you too late and you are already suffering, then skip ahead – but maybe bear the advice next time you reach for the gin.
Everyone knows about lining your stomach, but what should you actually do this with? A takeaway curry might seem like a good idea but can often just mix with the alcohol to create a bloated mess. Instead, focus on dairy; maybe a cheesy omelette or bowl of pasta covered with parmesan if you have time; even a large glass of milk will do. The high concentration of fat will protect your stomach lining and slow down the absorption of alcohol.
Which leads me to my next point – what should your drink of choice be? There are a few golden rules out there; don’t mix, stick with light coloured spirits (gin, vodka, light rum, white wine) as these contain fewer ‘congeners’ which exacerbate hangovers, and avoid sparkling alcohols and fizzy mixers, as these speed up the rate of alcohol absorption in your blood.
The key, however, is water. Start drinking water right now – don’t wait until the headache tomorrow! Alcohol causes your body to expel four times the amount of water as normal, which is sent straight from your kidney to your bladder (hence the trouble of ‘breaking the seal’) whilst also leaving you dehydrated, which is the main cause of discomfort the next day. Try alternating each glass of poison with one of water. Admittedly, this is quite difficult to do whilst caught in an intense round of Ring of Fire. If nothing else, drink before you go to sleep. Lots of it. Gallons.
Now for the dreaded point; waking up. While for some the nausea after a night out is enough to avoid food altogether, others feel the urge to devour a full cooked breakfast. Avoid both of these. You need something easy to digest to get those calories straight away and sooth your stomach, but a greasy fry up mixed with coffee will do nothing but give you heartburn. Not only is coffee a diuretic – adding to the dehydration problem – it narrows your blood vessels and boosts blood pressure, which is a recipe for heart palpitations. If you have ever been sat in a lecture with that familiar dizziness and sweating you will know what I mean. Instead, think mild carbs; wholemeal toast covered in banana and peanut butter or porridge oats with honey and dates will neutralise your stomach acid and bring your blood sugar and potassium levels back to normal, reducing that well-known trembly state. Later in the day, try some soup; it is a great source of vitamins and minerals which you may have lost the night before and is easy for your fragile stomach to digest. By about 6pm you should be ready for the cycle to continue.