Just about every holiday includes food as part of our treasured time with family and friends. But no holiday is quite like Thanksgiving when it comes to eating massive quantities of delicious dishes! Here’s how to enjoy your meal this Thanksgiving without feeling awful afterwards.
Ah yes, Thanksgiving has rolled around once again, and you’re getting ready to perhaps roll yourself around the house once more after stuffing yourself to the brim on all the delicious dishes that make their way to your table each November. For those of us with a conscious relationship with food (such as monitoring what we eat and actively trying to lead a healthy lifestyle), Thanksgiving can be a very challenging time. Perhaps there’s no other time of the year where we may feel the social and familial pressure to eat as much as we can, often to the point of actual physical discomfort.
One study estimates that we eat a whopping 225% of our usual caloric intake each Thanksgiving, and almost 4 times as much fat as a typical day. Those are some shocking numbers, but we’ll start our look at Thanksgiving feasts by admitting something: overindulging one day out of the year won’t totally ruin your physical condition. That’s not to say we are endorsing overeating, but the effect of our diet on our health is, by and large, a cumulative process. That means that, generally speaking, it’s habits that affect our health, not individual meals. That being said, if you can avoid overeating to an extreme degree on Thanksgiving, you probably should. One reason? That same scientific study seems to suggest that overindulging on Thanksgiving can lead to a 2-month food binge throughout the entire holiday season. Once we’ve psychologically accepted that we’re overeating, it’s all too easy to fall into unhealthy habits.
Chances are, you’ve already acutely felt that consequences of overeating, but it’s worth mentioning exactly what you can expect. Indigestion, bloating, acid reflux, heartburn, and all manner of gastrointestinal issues can arise when we force an unnatural amount of food matter through our digestive systems. The more you eat, the more acid and gas is created in your sensitive stomach as a result. Your stomach is like a balloon, and when it runs out of places to put that acid and gas, it ends up… well, going elsewhere. The result is all the common stomach ailments we just listed.
Finally, yes: the “food coma” is a real phenomenon. When you ignore leptin, the chemical signal sent to your brain to tell you that you’re already full, you open up a whole host of energy related problems. Overeating spikes your blood sugar, confuses your body’s insulin detection mechanisms, and can make you feel incredibly groggy in a surprisingly short period of time.
All in all, don’t be too hard on yourself if you overindulge a little this holiday season. But if you can, maybe pass on that third helping of stuffing… your digestive system will thank you!