Healthy and Hungover: Triage Edition

Healthy and Hungover: Triage Edition

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You roll over in your bed after a night out for St. Patty’s Day. As your mind flickers to life, a montage of images from last night’s debauchery roll through your head…drinks…snacks…more drinks…pizza (cue internal cringing)…even an old sandwich when you got home finally late in the evening.

This is not another “how to sensibly diet and still enjoy yourself” article. We’re clearly past that point. This article is for you because you need triage. You want to keep after your diet and still keep crushing it. But you went off of your well-laid plans last night. So what now?

healthy hangover triage
Photo credit: Regan Buker


FIrst and most important, your mindset needs to be right.  The difference between the people who win out in the end and reach their goals and those who quit is mindset. Your diet plan does not need to be executed perfectly to actually reach your goal.

So your first step is to lay there and forgive yourself. That’s right. If you are mentally torturing yourself about how stupid your actions were last night, shut that shit down. NOW. Practicing compassion toward yourself and normalizing mistakes is part of a growth mindset. That’s what will help you get to the goals that you want to achieve with a healthy diet and exercise.

Mindset also matters for the severity of the hangover. Some health professionals suggest that in the absence of any real cure for hangovers, the best action is just to act as if you don’t have one. In doing my fair share of personal research for this article, I found this action to be pretty reliable.

So you’ve forgiven yourself, you’ve denied the existence of the hangover, and now it’s time to move on. Don’t you already feel better? To keep making progress on your diet, you need to move on and take action. So shake off the shamrock necklaces, hop out of bed, and let’s get a game plan to win our day.


This step is non-negotiable. Your body has taken water from your organs to break down the toxins in alcohol. That’s why you have a headache. So rehydration is a must.

If you chafe at the idea of waking up with a hangover and pouring a gallon of water down your throat, I’m with you! Your stomach may be churning from alcohol or the food choices you made last night. The last thing you feel like doing is adding more to slosh around down there.

In your kitchen you might have a few things that will make rehydration more palatable:

  • Temperature. Cold will reach your organs faster and rehydrate you more quicky. Lukewarm or room temperature water is a little closer to your core temperature and may be easier on an uneasy stomach.
  • Lemon or lemon juice. The acidic fruit alkalizes your body, improving digestion and heading off that nauseous feeling you’re currently denying. Lemons also have detoxifying properties, so if you have one in your kitchen, I suggest you squeeze it into that water you’re drinking now.
  • Add more here about sports drinks or whatever.
  • Since you clearly didn’t alternate water with your drinks last night, make it right this morning. If you drink caffeine, alternate your coffee with a glass of water so you’re not dehydrating again.


This one shouldn’t be hard, because you had planned to workout today anyways, right? And since you’re already denying your hangover, you’ve stopped beating yourself up in your mind. Now that you’ve rehydrated, there’s no time like the present to move. Seriously, up off the couch.

There will likely be no PRs set today, so you can cross that pressure off your list. What’s most important is that you move, with some purpose, for at least 30 minutes today. Mobility, walking, lifting- do whatever is possible and seems most palatable. Do it before you even think about. Get it done as early as possible because your willpower is at its lowest today, and you will be able to refuel it by feeling awesome for working out.


I’m not going to tell you that it doesn’t taste heavenly to bite into a Philly cheesesteak for lunch the day after a night of heavy drinking. It probably does. Generally speaking though, it doesn’t FEEL good after you’ve eaten it. Food consumed the next day doesn’t help your body process the physical effects of alcohol in any way. And since you’re *NOT* hungover, you’re not going to be even considering this choice today anyways, right?

If you have any willpower left at all, apply it toward making the best choices you can today. Don’t make judgements against yourself and move forward. Beating yourself up for choosing a comfort food today will only snowball negative feelings going forward.


If you have the luxury of taking an afternoon nap that would be optimal. But since you’re like most of us, you’re working and just trying to exist through the end of the workday. Set yourself up to crush tomorrow by planning to sleep this evening.

Before you sleep, take some time to make a physical or mental checklist of your plan to crush your diet or exercise the following day. What will make you feel successful? Write it down because setting the intention will contribute to your feeling of winning today.


Bonus Action: Did you do it? React and let me know how it went! 

One Response

  1. You got it right with the mindset. This is crucial. Fortunately, for me, I don’t have to apply any of these tactics today. Yet know down the road I will not be as wise not to indulge!

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