A night of drinking can celebrate a special occasion or just be a way to enjoy yourself with friends. But the evening won’t be so enjoyable if it ends with you draped over a toilet or clutching your head in the cold light of day. Whether you’re a novice drinker or your previous efforts have left a bad taste in your mouth, you can ward off both vomiting and hangovers by taking some precautions.


Pace Yourself

For most people, it’s not just drinking that causes vomiting or hangovers — it’s drinking to excess that is the problem. Inexperienced drinkers often don’t know how to drink at a steady pace without overdoing it; drinking steadily rather than heavily can help prevent the stomach irritation that leads to vomiting. As a rule, limit your drinking to one alcoholic drink per hour. If this leaves you behind the group, try alternating alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic ones.

To make sure you’re regulating your alcohol intake, avoid sweet mixers in cocktails. The flavors of these ingredients can mask the alcohol, making it hard to know how potent the drink you’re sipping is.


Drink Plenty of Water

Many of the problems that come from drinking — particularly the headache and nausea of hangovers — stem from dehydration. Drink plenty of water on your night out to avoid this problem. If you don’t want to drink water, drink fruit juice or another nonalcoholic beverage. Avoid carbonated drinks like cola, though; they can increase the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol. At the end of your night, drink a glass of water before going to bed.


Don’t Drink on an Empty Stomach

To cut down on the harmful effects of alcohol, make sure you eat before or during your evening of drinking. A hearty meal before an evening of drinking will slow the rate at which your system absorbs alcohol. Choose a meal that’s high in carbohydrates, with plenty of rice, pasta or bread. Alternatively, load up on fatty foods before drinking.

Eating while out drinking is a good idea, but bar snacks might not be; salty food like nuts or chips will increase your thirst. That may be good news for the bar owner, but if you’re watching your intake, it might not be so good for you.


Be Aware of Other Problems

If you’re drinking sensibly and still find yourself vomiting, there may be another reason. Several conditions can cause vomiting when drinking alcohol. Alcohol irritates the stomach; if your stomach is already irritated, you may throw up more quickly. You may have an allergy or intolerance to another ingredient in your drink of choice. If you’re taking medication, the alcohol may be interacting poorly with it. No matter what the explanation, if you pace yourself, don’t drink to excess and still vomit, consult a health care professional. Drinking might not be for you.