You’ve done it – you’ve gone and eaten yourself into a food coma. You don’t know whether to be disappointed in yourself or chuffed. But you’ll certainly know the symptoms immediately.
It washes over you roughly half an hour after you finally stop eating your Christmas dinner. Ideally, you’d retire to your bedroom to sleep while the effects of your food wear off. But it’s Christmas and the show must go on!
To help you live out the festive season to the full we’ve has a look at what causes the Christmas food coma and how you can combat the food hangover without relying on days of bed rest.
What causes a food coma?
The term ‘food coma’ has become so popular that in 2014, it was added to the Oxford dictionary. But despite its prevalence in the English lexicon, there are some misconceptions concerning the science behind what causes it.
A food coma is typically defined as a state of drowsiness or lethargy after a meal.
When we eat, the stomach produces a hormone called gastrin. As the food enters the small intestine, the cells in the gut secrete even more hormones (enterogastrone) that signal other bodily functions, including blood flow regulation.
The process causes sleepiness, as while meals are digested, more blood is diverted away from the brain and other organs to the stomach and gut in an attempt to transport the absorbed newly digested metabolites away. This leaves less blood for the rest of the body and can cause some people to feel light-headed or sleepy.
So what should you do to avoid nodding off after a meal?
Don’t overeat: We know it’s Christmas day but if you want to beat the food coma you’ll need to watch your portion size!
Don’t skip breakfast in the hope that you’ll be saving on the calories – eating a big meal when you’re in starvation mode actually makes you more sleepy.
Walk it off: There is nothing like a family walk on Christmas day. Fresh air and movement will do you the world of good. Head out after the big meal rather than vegging out – your body will thank you for it
Don’t go to bed on a full stomach: Christmas day is often an all-day eating event which leaves many of us heading to bed once the festivities are over with a full stomach. Going to bed overly full can increase your body temperature and can disturb your sleep.
Embrace it! If all else fails, accept that it’s Christmas Day and be kind to your ‘food baby!