How to Avoid a Food Coma this Christmas

Words: Robyn Samuels

Each year, my mother and I plan our Christmas lunch menu. It usually starts off with her saying that she doesn’t feel like ‘going all out’, but come Christmas, we’ll have a medieval feast with a turkey leg in one hand and a lamb shank in the other. Then the trifle makes an appearance, at which point ‘the itis’ ensues. Sure, it’s not every day that we get the chance to sit around the table and feast with friends and family, but having the meat sweats and a bubbly hangover before 3pm isn’t ideal. If you’re looking forward to Christmas lunch but want to avoid the ‘food coma’ that usually follows, these tips might offer you some respite.

how to avoid a food coma

What is a Food Coma?
For those who have never experienced a food coma, consider yourself lucky. Food comas or what’s scientifically referred to as ‘postprandial somnolence’ are a common occurrence and are usually caused by overeating or eating large portions of carbohydrate-rich meals which induces sleepiness, fatigue and bloating.


1. Drink Water


Meat sweats are a thing, and the best way to avoid perspiring like a hog is to drink water. If your Christmas menu is meat-heavy, it’s always a good idea to drink water. Meat contains quite a bit of sodium, causing your fingers and other extremities to swell up. Drinking enough water throughout the day will help flush out excess sodium and alleviate bloating.


2. Don’t Drink (Too Much) Alcohol


Contrary to belief, ‘one more drink’ might hurt. Just like it’s not recommended to drink alcohol on an empty stomach, drinking alcohol after consuming more than your regular intake can worsen things, especially if you have a lower alcohol tolerance. It can also induce daytime fatigue AKA a ‘food coma’ coupled with dehydration and feeling sluggish.


3. Don’t Starve Till Lunch


Eating on Christmas day is like doing grocery shopping while hungry – you tend to ‘eat with your eyes’. It’s common for people to skip breakfast on Christmas day, in preparation for the feast, but this approach is actually counterintuitive. If you’ve ever attended a buffet, you’ll know that it’s actually better to eat something in the morning to stabilise your appetite.

If you skip breakfast, you could feel particularly voracious which could lead to eating too much, too quickly and ultimately slipping into a food coma. It’s better to regulate your blood sugar. Eating plain yoghurt might help or a high-energy snack like a banana.


4. Smaller Portions, Second Helpings


Christmas only comes around once a year, and it’s not every day that you get to have lunch with your whole family. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you end up eating a little more than you planned. But, it is always better to start off small instead of literally biting off more than you can chew. Try not to overload your plate, you could always go back for seconds.


5. Drink a Cup of Tea

different types of tea
Tea is always a good idea, especially if you want to avoid a food coma. Herbal teas like mint and green tea could help soothe the stomach after overindulging. If you have a spastic colon, it’s best to give yourself some time after your meal, it’s also better to drink lukewarm tea, as ripping hot tea might make it more difficult for you to digest.

Read about different types of tea and their benefits.


6. Go for a Walk


Now, we’re not opposed to taking a legendary Christmas nap, but itis-induced naps can be so effective that you might wake up in the New Year to find out that we have a new president. You might also struggle to fall asleep at night after taking an afternoon nap. Going for a walk with the family is a lovely way to end a successful Christmas lunch. If your dog is joining you for a walk, try one of these dog-friendly beaches in Cape Town.

Feeling overwhelmed this holiday? Try these tips for a less stressful Christmas

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