On holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, and at Sunday family dinners, people worldwide eat big and get sleepy. Has this happened to you? In laypeople's terms this common condition is referred to as a food coma.
The medical term is postprandial somnolence. When some people overeat, they get lethargic; their energy plummets and consequently, they lapse into a food coma.
Contrary to what we've been told, the tryptophan in turkey does not cause sleepiness any more than chicken or beef. Perhaps that third piece of pecan pie?
Insulin plays an important role in food coma. When we overeat, particularly too many carbohydrates at one sitting, insulin levels rise. The protein part of your meal is carried to cells. However, Tryptophan instead of transporting to cells is carried to the brain and effects melatonin levels, which causes sleepiness.
The sympathetic system, or "fight and flight" comes into play when we are hungry. If we eat a balanced nutritious meal, our energy level is raised and our good humor returns.
After consuming, high carb, high fat and high sugar meals, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. The function of the parasympathetic nervous system is to slow down the digestive process. This function is often referred to as "rest and digest".
In effect, eating too much of the wrong food gets our nervous system out of whack and rather than the energy we needed, we experience somnolence.
Try grazing - eat smaller, more frequent meals. As sugar is the worst offender, we should eat sugary foods in moderation. Choose carbohydrates wisely. Watch carbs with a high glycemic index, such as white bread and white rice.
Instead of turning on the football game, take a walk after holiday or Sunday meals.
Alcohol consumption following a big meal may contribute to food coma symptoms. Definitely ditch alcoholic drinks after eating a large meal if you're subject to frequent postprandial somnolence.
Go ahead and enjoy your daily glass of red wine, but drink it with your meal.
good list - I never heard of a food coma
Good info and I think half of Americans get it on a daily basis with these fast food junk stops.
Thank you for this great health list on food coma. You have aptly dispelled some myths of long standing and given much information. Thank you for your great research on a much needed subject.
I know the condition, but had never heard the term "food coma" before, but it sure fits! Good list, thanks! H5!
select one here...