It feels like it should be easy to avoid a Thanksgiving food coma, and yet every year, millions of Americans (including this author) stuff themselves until they’re fit to burst and fall fast asleep. Why? It could be because of the abundance of special foods you don’t get any other time of year like turkey and pumpkin pie. Or perhaps it’s simply that the majority of the meal is carb-heavy, to the point that it’s difficult to avoid getting full quickly. Even if you have no problem exercising self-control in other parts of your life, overeating on this particular holiday — and figuring out how to avoid the inevitable food coma — is certainly an issue worth tackling. After all, if you’re stuffing yourself to the point of exhaustion, how can you expect to fight the herds during Black Friday shopping the next day? Imagine being unable to move quickly to grab those awesome pieces because you’re still sluggish from digesting that meal you had the night before. Yeah, I would regret losing out on that bag I’d been eyeing all season for that reason, too.
Now, everyone probably takes in a fair amount of food on Thanksgiving. I mean, you have to get in on those handmade rolls you only see once a year. But eating to the point of exhaustion is not only uncomfortable, but also a bit unhealthy. When it comes to food comas, “a lot of it has to do with eating too much food, too much sugar, and too much fat, which all cause a big release of insulin,” says Meghan Jardine, registered dietician and the associate director of diabetes nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. “Insulin takes glucose out of your blood, and that’s what’s going to make you feel tired. You’re also increasing the fat in your blood when you digest and absorb all that food. High-fat meals like that cause an inflammation response, and over time, can cause plaque to build up in your arteries.”
Luckily, food babies, and their subsequent effect, the food coma, are easy to avoid. Keep these tips in mind at your Thanksgiving dinner, and you might even be waking up early to hit up the mall, beating all those other people lying in bed dealing with the after-effects of their food comas. Empty stores, here you come.
1. Eat A Normal Amount During The Day On Thanksgiving
A lot of people prep themselves for Thanksgiving by snacking throughout the day instead of sitting down to eat. But f you go into Thanksgiving super hungry, you’re setting yourself up to overeat. So, have breakfast, have lunch, and just pretend that the day is like any other day.
2. Wear Tight Clothing To Dinner
It’s kind of a genius ploy, as clothes that don’t stretch will make it really, really difficult for you to overeat. Break out your favorite shrunken sweater and skinny jeans and eliminate the possibility of that food coma all together.
3. Fill The Majority Of Your Plate With Vegetables
Jardine recommends serving “foods on the table that are delicious but also healthy and won’t give you that coma that you might get by eating higher fat food.” Foods like dark green leafy greenss, roasted brussels sprouts, or even fruit salad give you and your guest the options to have more balanced plates.
3. Eat Slowly
Meditate on all that delicious food as you take it in, and give every bite at least a few chews before swallowing. It’ll give your brain time to catch up to your stomach to let you know you’re full and prevent you from overstuffing yourself.
4. Don’t Drink Too Much
I'm not going to tell you to not drink on a holiday. But the less you drink, the less likely you are to overeat because you’ll be alert enough to know when you’re full, so be sure to keep track of how many times you’re reaching for your wine. In addition, don’t ignore that water glass. “Make sure you’re staying hydrated, and drinking a lot of water,” Jardine notes.
5. Walk Around After Dinner
The best thing to do after a big Thanksgiving dinner? “Move” Jardine says. “Take everyone outside for a walk. Exercise gives you energy.” As soon as you’re done, avoid grabbing seconds of pie by helping to do the dishes or starting to pack up some of the food in the kitchen. Shrug the sluggishness off by immediately getting active, and motivate yourself to leave the table by picturing where you’ll soon be tomorrow: finally buying those pieces you’ve been waiting to get your hands on all year.