Tag Archives: thanksgiving meal

What is a food coma and how do I prevent it?

After a big meal, all you want to do is lay on one of these.


We’ve all been there before. You have a huge meal; after, you are sitting there thinking “annnnd I don’t want to do anything.” You feel zapped of energy, you have no motivation to do anything. You pretty much become worthless, haha. A good example would be how you feel after a big thanksgiving meal. You probably ate enough calories for two days, in one sitting, and now you would like to sit or lay down for the rest of the year. After all, the new year would come up in a few weeks. You wouldn’t miss much, right?


Well, my friends, I will explain what happens when one gets a “food coma.” I’ll give you some tips on how to avoid it. If anything, at least you’ll understand why all you want to do is unbutton your pants and lay on your La-Z-Boy for the rest of your life.


This situation been happening to people for a long time. That’s why there is a scientific name for it. A food coma, or postprandial somnolence comes from eating big meals full of carbohydrates(sugars) and fats. When we eat, we stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, which tells our body “yo, slow down, we gotta’ digest this here food, man!” When you eat a lot at once, your parasympathetic nervous system revs up even more because your body needs to focus more of its energy on digestion. Or, think of it this way. We only have so much energy. When we eat a lot, more of it goes to helping digest, therefore, less energy for life.


The reason why eating desserts and bread/pasta/starchy foods contributes greatly to this problem  is that these foods are quickly broken down into glucose (the body’s simple form of sugar) you experience a big attack of blood sugar in the bloodstream. When this happens, your body goes “HEY, WHOA, HEYYYY” and releases the hormone, insulin. Insulin helps clean up all the extra sugar in your bloodstream. When insulin increases, your brain releases serotonin and melatonin (chemicals in the brain that can leave you feeling sleepy). When you eat high fat foods, that also takes a lot of effort to digest.


Now you can see why having a huge meal, or one with high sugar/fat content is not a good idea before physical activity. Your body sends energy and blood to aid with digestion and that leaves you with little energy and high probability for cramps.


So what can you do to avoid food comas?


The most obvious prevention/solution is to not eat such huge meals at one time. Slow down, champ! Eating a lot of food at once, will always make this feeling more likely. Breaking up the same amount of food/calories/sugar but spread over different smaller meals, will produce less of a food coma. So, if you ate the same amount of food you ate at one big thanksgiving meal, in three different meals, you wouldn’t feel nearly as food coma-ish, as if you ate that all at once.


Also, slow down on the sweets and fast digesting carbohydrate foods (breads,pasta etc). The description above of what they do to your blood sugar is what is often referred to as a sugar crash.


Drink lots of water throughout the day, and during your meals. Water helps digestion. If you body takes energy and puts it towards digestion, then helping the digestion process will hopefully make it require a bit less energy to take away form the rest of you.


There you have it. A hopefully understandable description of the famous “food coma.” However, if you are tired all the time, or if you seem to feel this way no matter what, get checked out by a doctor. This is in no way meant to be a scientific article or medical post. Just info to help understand what so many of us have experienced.

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