‘Food coma’ after a big Christmas lunch is just your body’s way of processing a large meal


If it happens after lunch at work, an afternoon coffee or stroll around the block should be enough to get you back up and running.

But if you’ve had an abnormally large meal — such as a festive season feast — it may feel like you have no choice but to let the food coma take hold.

So, what do we really know about this holiday hazard, and is there anything you can do if you find yourself heading towards post-food torpor?

Let’s take a look at some of theories on why eating can be followed by feelings of fatigue.

Rest and digest
The science of food comas is mostly based on animal models and inferences from our current knowledge on how the body works, says Emma Beckett, a nutrition scientist at the University of Newcastle.

There are three main theories, and Dr Beckett thinks they probably all play a role to some extent.

The first theory involves the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system — that’s the rest and digest pathway, as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system which is fight or flight.

“We’ve got a bunch of nerves around the digestive tract. And one of those big nerves — the vagus nerve — signals between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract,” Dr Beckett says.

Article URL : https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-12-25/christmas-food-coma-science/11787540

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