What happens after Thanksgiving dinner at your house? Do you spend time catching up with family and friends, or do you collapse on the couch feeling like a beached whale?
The medical term for that condition is postprandial somnolence, but you probably call it a food coma. It’s not just limited to the holidays either. You may feel tired and bloated after a big lunch or anytime you overindulge.
Learn how to enjoy your food without sacrificing your waistline and energy levels. Try these suggestions for putting an end to food comas.
How to Avoid Overeating
There are several theories about why you feel groggy and stuffed after a big meal. However, the most obvious risk factor is eating too much.
Try these tips:
- Control portion sizes. You can probably continue to enjoy the foods you love as long as you pay attention to serving sizes. Learn to recognize what one ounce of cheese or a 2-inch slice of pie looks like.
- Leave the table. You may be tempted to nibble if you linger next to the roast chicken or birthday cake. Offer to help clean up or go to another room as soon as you’re done eating.
- Resist social pressure. Research shows that your dining partners influence how many calories you consume. Be prepared for loved ones who encourage second helpings.
- Slow down. Do you often discover that you’ve eaten more than you intended? Give your body time to feel full. Put your fork down between bites, and chew thoroughly.
- Manage stress. Emotional eating is another common obstacle. Find calorie-free methods for dealing with tension, such as listening to music or doing something else that you enjoy.
- Eat breakfast. You’re more likely to overindulge if you let yourself become too hungry. Start the day with a hearty breakfast and enjoy a light snack if your stomach starts rumbling long before your next meal.
- Drink water. Staying hydrated reduces hunger and enhances your digestion. It also helps you to stay alert.
Other Tips for Preventing Food Comas
Along with how much you consume, the way you eat may play a role too. See if you have any additional habits that could be bringing you down.
These strategies may help:
- Balance your diet. Some theories about food comas suggest that dishes high in refined carbohydrates and fat could be the culprit. Plan your meals and snacks to include a mix of about 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% fat.
- Weigh yourself. The average adult gains about 1 to 2 pounds each year, which can lead to obesity eventually. Keeping your eyes on the scale can motivate you to eat healthy.
- Drink in moderation. Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and undermines your willpower. It also has a sedative effect that can make food comas worse. If you drink, limit yourself to one or two cocktails a day and take some days off from alcohol each week.
- Sleep well. Your body and mind need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly. Sleep deprivation disrupts your metabolism and makes you more likely to gain weight.
- Take a walk. Regular exercise burns calories and reduces fatigue. Any aerobic activity after a big meal can be especially helpful for waking you up and stimulating your digestion.
- See your doctor. An occasional food coma rarely raises much concern, but other causes of fatigue could indicate more serious health issues. Talk with your doctor if you’re tired for more than a week or notice additional unusual symptoms.
Say goodbye to food comas, so you can enjoy special celebrations more and increase your productivity throughout the year. When you change your eating habits, you’ll feel lighter and livelier.