Postprandial somnolence is a normal state of drowsiness or lassitude following a meal. Postprandial somnolence has two components: a general state of low energy related to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system in response to mass in the gastrointestinal tract, and a specific state of sleepiness caused by hormonal and neurochemical changes related to the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream and its downstream effects on amino acid transport in the central nervous system 1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postprandial_somnolence.
What this means in plain English is a food coma. Yes, that sluggish sensation you get after eating typically a very, very large meal or something that is very carb intensive. You have all experienced it. You sit down to a delicious meal and you eat every little morsel. Then you sit there staring at your plate thinking “Man, that was really good. I want more, but I’m worried if I do I will suffer for it.” You lean back, thinking momentarily to yourself and you can feel that your stomach is not full yet, and you head back for seconds, or maybe thirds even! Then after the second helping, that’s when your first helping has just finished settling into your body alerting you you’re full, whoops, but I just ate a whole ‘nuther helping. That is the precise moment where you are completely and instantly regretting having devoured that second helping.
The pants feel just a little more tight, your eye lids feel incredibly heavy, your desire to do anything plummets into the depths of lazy-land. You may or may not actually clean up after dinner, most likely just leaving it right where it last was. The stove is filthy, the dishes are trying to climb into the dishwasher themselves, but this isn’t a Disney movie.
The reality is that you have slumped firmly into a food coma. The desirable yet unwanted result of eating too damn much food. For me, I normally sit down afterwards, slowing be swallowed up by the couch, asking myself “why did I just do that?”. As I talked about in a previous post, emotional eating could play a factor. Or maybe it is just because the meal was SO good that you just couldn’t resist. Whatever the reason, it is very difficult to fend off a food coma, rather just let it run its course. I’m not going to get into a lot of scientific jargon or explanations, if you want that, the Wiki page referenced at the bottom of this article will help you get your intellectual fill.
Instead, I want to take a moment and focus on what you can do while eating and shortly after eating to try and tame the food coma beast. A great list I found at The Gabriel Method includes:
How can you counter-balance this effect and fight off the food coma?
- Chew slower & more thoroughly to aid the body in the digestive process.
- Lay on your left side after consuming a large meal to help the stomach do its duties.
- Drink herbal tea or lemon water 20-30 minutes after the meal
- Balance high carbohydrate meals with healthy fat to slow down the glucose spike.
- Eat lighter the next meal or next day to help the liver clear out the extra glucose.
The moral of the story, eating like a glutton may feel good from time to time, will assuredly taste wonderful, but you are going to suffer afterwards and become a total vegetable, so to speak.
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