It's common to overeat during Thanksgiving or the holidays. One over-the-top meal during Thanksgiving or the holidays would usually do no harm to your health, but the stuffed feeling after overeating can be indeed unpleasant. Some signs of overeating other than the feeling of fullness include stomach pain, not being able to move well, headache, exhaustion, gas pains, bloating, and fatigue. But not to worry! There are ways to handle turkey coma!
Immediate action you can take is to ensure that you are wearing loose or comfortable clothing. Then, you can do other relaxing activities to help your mind ease off the feeling of overeating - ensure that you do not nap or lay down. Relaxing means that you are not stressing out your digestive system. However, napping would drastically slow down your digestive system.
For the future... be mindful
But don't blame the turkey - or yourself! It's easy to go overboard when celebrations revolve around delicious food and drink, but you can learn to be mindful so you can avoid this situation next time. By slowing down the eating pace to truly taste and enjoy the meal leads to greater satisfaction with less food.
The slower pace allows time for your brain, stomach, and gut to communicate - it can take up to 20 minutes to feel full once we start to eat! Therefore, by the time your stomach and gut sends a signal back to your brain that you’re getting full, you’ve been consuming food for the past 20 minutes!
When you're ready to go back for seconds or thirds, think to yourself before you go. Are you truly still hungry? If you're unsure, take a short break before you go back.
Your choice of liquids
Alcohol and fizzy drinks can worsen the feeling of overeating. Alcohol has a strong sedative effect and can be dehydrating. Carbonated drinks add and trap gas in your stomach, which contributes to the feeling of being bloated. You can still enjoy these drinks, but be mindful of how much you are consuming.
Water is the best beverage option to help alleviate the bloated feeling, especially after a meal because it can help dilute the food you ate and make you less likely to get constipated. Warm water or tea can relax and soothe your digestive system. If you already started having feelings of overeating, take small sips of water. Your body will use that water to process the food and flush the salt out.
Your choice of foods
With so many food options during a celebration, it may be tempting to try a little bit of everything. A little conscious effort to hold back and be more selective on what to eat can make a difference to not feeling overstuffed and sick at the end. For example, choosing to have lighter foods like a salad instead of having a big piece dairy-loaded casserole. You can still try the casserole - but just don't stuff yourself with it.
Carbs and sugar are also guilty of triggering sleepiness and keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time. By understanding how certain foods affect your body, you can learn to avoid them if you don't like how it interacts with your body.
A smaller plate can also help physically control your portions. It will be tempting to load up your plate with delicious food regardless of the plate size, but with a smaller plate means you have to be more selective on what to have for your first round. You will have to get up to get seconds (which means you need to walk, thereby helping you with digestion) and it forces you to take a short break before you continue eating.
End your meal with something healthy
Desserts, sweets, and pie are common ways to end a meal - but if you happen to overeat this meal, these options may tip you over the edge. If you are still craving some sweets after a meal, why not opt for some fruit?
Fruits contain fiber, which could help you feel better after a meal. If you are someone who experiences acid reflux and had a high-fat meal, fruits that are high in fiber and low in acidity (like melons or bananas) could help reduce the chance of acid reflux.
Do some light physical activities - go for a walk!
If you want to avoid heartburn, one of the best things you can do is stay upright. Do not lie down especially after having a large meal. You may be feeling tired and uncomfortable from overeating but walking can help stimulate digestion and even out your blood sugar levels. But don't overdo it! Moderate to intense exercise will send the blood to your legs instead of your stomach, which could slow digestion. And with a stomach full of food, we can only assume that it won't be comfortable.
What to do post-celebration meal (damage control)
With all the yummy leftovers from the celebration meal, it can be tempting to overeat the day after. If you still have food left after a meal, consider giving some away. You should also divide the remainder into single servings so you don’t overdo it next time. If you know you can't resist having certain foods - like the pecan pie your grandma made, it's better to not keep it within reach.
Plan your next meal to stay on track with your regular diet. You can’t “uneat” that third slice pie but you can try to balance that out with healthier, low-calorie foods. And no, you don't balance that third slice of pie by not eating - your body requires nutrients throughout the day. You would end up pushing your body to extremes instead of helping your body ease back into your regular diet.
Once you feel more digested after overeating (usually after 3+ hours), you can work up a sweat and workout. It may help jump-start your metabolism and prevent constipation - all while burning off the extra calories from overeating. Regular exercise generally helps control mood and hunger, so with an active lifestyle, you are less likely to overeat in the future.
It's never too late to start exercising regularly! If you feel tired or sore after your workouts, do not let it discourage you. An electric massager can help you stay on track with your workouts.
Game plan for next celebration meal
It is commonly known that people usually leave an empty stomach before a buffet. After all, how can you take advantage of all the food available? If we "conserve" calories all day, then that means we can overindulge in a holiday meal, right?
Unfortunately, this is not good for your body, and it is not good for portion control. In addition, your metabolism would think you’re going into starvation mode so it holds on to as many calories as possible.
If you had a little bit of food before you start your celebration meal, you would have a smaller chance of inhaling the food you see, and you would be better at not overdoing your meal.
And with the knowledge you gained from this article, I'm sure that you can put your own game plan together that will leave you satisfied! As long as overeating does not become a habit, then it is safe to treat yourself once in a while. Your relationship with food should not make you anxious - by being mindful and making careful choices, you will find yourself enjoying the holidays more.