We all know the cardinal rule when it comes to alcohol - don't drink on an empty stomach.

But with New Year's Eve parties kicking off around the country, what are the best damage limitation meals - especially when time is tight after work?

Here, Rob Hobson, head of Healthspan Nutrition, reveals the meals to minimise a sore head - and the foods you should always avoid...

CHICKEN STIR-FRY WITH WHOLEGRAIN RICE

Poultry is rich in protein to help keep you feeling full, as it takes longer to digest than carbohydrates.

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Chicken and vegetables such as peppers and broccoli are particularly good as they are rich in vitamin B6, which is depleted by drinking alcohol.

And add in some dark green vegetables such as kale. These can increase bile flow, in turn helping the liver to remove toxins from the body the day after a heavy session.

Finally, swap white rice for wholegrain as it is higher in fibre and takes longer to break down in the body than white rice. It'll also help replenish B vitamins and zinc - vital for energy.

SCRAMBLED EGGS ON RYE BREAD

Rye bread has a low GI (glycaemic index). This means it's high in fibre that will keep you fuller for longer throughout the night - and better able to tolerate alcohol.

Eggs are a good source of protein which will also help control your appetite. They contain B vitamins and zinc, both of which are depleted when you drink alcohol.

A meal full of both fibre and protein, guaranteed to keep you fuller throughout the night and better able to tolerate alcohol. Photo / Doug Sherring
A meal full of both fibre and protein, guaranteed to keep you fuller throughout the night and better able to tolerate alcohol. Photo / Doug Sherring

They also contain an amino acid called cysteine, which the body needs to help break down acetaldehyde. This is the toxin formed when alcohol is broken down in the liver.

GUACAMOLE WITH WHOLEMEAL PITTA BREAD

If you're going to be drinking, it's the day to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats - such as those found in foods like avocados and salmon - in your diet.

Fats take longer to be digested and therefore prevent blood sugar levels from dropping too quickly, which can contribute to a nasty hangover.

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Avocados are also rich in the electrolyte potassium. This helps your body to maintain the correct fluid balance, which can be disrupted when you start drinking. Alcohol is a diuretic, which is why you go to the loo more frequently when drinking - triggering dehydration.

And opt for wholemeal pitta rather than white, as it's higher in fibre.

VEGETABLE SOUP WITH BEANS OR LENTILS

Pulses are rich in fibre and protein that will be broken down slowly in the body to help keep you full.

This prevents blood sugar levels from dropping so you don't end up drinking on an empty stomach - a recipe for disaster!

Soups also have a high water content. This will help keep you hydrated before you start drinking and reduce the risk of a pounding headache the next morning.

OAT AND BANANA SMOOTHIE

This is a super-quick option if you're in a mad dash. Combining oats, banana, milk (dairy or a plant variety such as almond) and a little honey provides a good source of protein and fibre to keep you full.

Bananas are high in potassium, which is depleted when drinking and important to help maintain fluid balance.

They also contain a type of fibre called lignin which helps to encourage absorption of calcium, another mineral depleted when you drink alcohol.

Combining oats, banana, milk (dairy or a plant variety such as almond) and a little honey provides a good source of protein and fibre to keep you full. Photo / 123RF
Combining oats, banana, milk (dairy or a plant variety such as almond) and a little honey provides a good source of protein and fibre to keep you full. Photo / 123RF

OTHER TOP TIPS

If you choose to eat yoghurt as a snack during the day, then swap regular yoghurt for one containing live bacteria. A wobbly gut is common the day after a heavy session and might be eased with the presence of friendly bacteria.

Swap water for orange juice to go with your evening meal. Orange juice is rich in vitamin C - also easily depleted during a night out on the tiles.

Avoid brown drinks. Alcohol such as whiskey and red wine contains more congeners. These compounds are a toxic byproduct of the fermentation process and are often added for taste and appearance. They also make hangovers worse.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY AVOID ON PARTY DAY

Very rich meals - curry, fatty foods

A meal rich in healthy fats (e.g. salmon, avocado) and lean protein is great, but a very heavy meal high in saturated fats - such as curry, or deep fried foods, may not be a good idea, especially if you're prone to heartburn or reflux.

Try to avoid eating anything very rich before or during drinking, as it could leave you feeling very uncomfortable.

Sugary, fizzy mixers

Try and avoid too many sugary or carbonated mixers when you start drinking as these can contribute to uncomfortable bloating and/or heartburn.

Sweet snacks

If you leave the office hungry and head straight to the pub then you might tempted to grab a quick sugary snack en route.

But this will only fill you up for a short time and then send your blood sugar level plummeting - compounding the effects of alcohol.

Instead, grab something savoury like a ready-made sandwich or wrap made with wholegrain bread.

Try not to grab sweet snacks as they will only fill you up for a short time and then send your blood sugar level plummeting - compounding the effects of alcohol. Photo / 123RF
Try not to grab sweet snacks as they will only fill you up for a short time and then send your blood sugar level plummeting - compounding the effects of alcohol. Photo / 123RF

Very spicy foods

Alcohol can cause a wobbly stomach as it loosens the muscles in the gut. Combining it with very spicy foods could further aggravate your gut, leading to nausea, reflux and heartburn.

Veg-only salads

While on every other occasion salad makes a very healthy addition to the diet, many are low in energy and have a high water content.

This means they will not line the stomach in preparation for drinking.

Add protein or healthy fats such as avocado and nuts to help bulk them out and maintain fullness ready for the night ahead.

IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE...

Grab a glass of semi-skimmed milk

It's high in protein and contains a little fat to help to line the stomach. Milk is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is depleted when you drink.

Munch on something high in protein

Boiled eggs, lean sliced meats or unsalted nuts can help line the stomach for a little while until dinner.

Hydrate

If you can't get anything to eat, then at least try and drink a glass of water before you start drinking and try alternating between alcoholic drinks and water throughout the night to dilute the alcohol.

If you can't get anything to eat, then at least try and drink a glass of water before you start drinking. Photo / Stephen Parker
If you can't get anything to eat, then at least try and drink a glass of water before you start drinking. Photo / Stephen Parker

THE MORNING AFTER...

Some people swear by a good old greasy fry-up after a big session, but this may not be your best option.

Heavy, fatty foods take a while to digest and can be hard going on sensitive stomachs, also increasing the chances of indigestion and heartburn.

These stodgy types of foods will also leave you feeling sluggish across the day, only adding to your lack of vitality.

Instead I recommend something lighter like boiled eggs and soldiers, omelette, avocado on toast or smoked salmon and scrambled egg.

These are all lower in excess saturated fat that can take a while to breakdown and be heavy going in delicate guts.

Effervescent Vitamin C tablets to replace vitamin C and B vitamins which are quickly depleted when metabolising alcohol but try ones low in sodium. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Effervescent Vitamin C tablets to replace vitamin C and B vitamins which are quickly depleted when metabolising alcohol but try ones low in sodium. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Effervescent Vitamin C tablets to replace vitamin C and B vitamins which are quickly depleted when metabolising alcohol but try ones low in sodium

If you can tolerate it, then sure, have a coffee. However, slugging back high caffeine drinks can leave you a bit jittery especially if you do so on an empty stomach. This can be a disaster if your stomach is feeling particularly sensitive.

TRY TO PREP YOUR LIVER

If you know December is going to be a whirlwind of parties, try and be good to your liver when you're not out on the town.

Try classic herbal remedies such as milk thistle (try Healthspan, 30 tablets for £12.95) or artichoke extract (try Healthspan, 120 tablets for £8.95) that have been traditionally used to support your liver health.

For more information on drinking sensibly visit www.cheers.org.nz