Montana Jade Hall

Picture this: You’re begrudgingly sprawled across the sofa with your phone in hand, using the last of your brain power and energy to Google the only question you have at this moment, “what can save me from a food coma?” 

The answer may not be a knight in shining armour hoisting you onto his noble steed, or the splendour of mythical beasts descending from the sky intent on rescuing you. Sorry, fellow damsels in digestive distress.

Instead, your virtual screen shines sharply through the enveloping darkness of the lounge as you discover suggestions you wish you’d known before those fateful forkfuls. On the other end of the spectrum, nutritionists advocate getting up off the couch and slipping on trainers. You’re seriously considering unbuttoning your trousers to ease your breathing while trying to curb the growing power of the food coma. All the empowering fairytales have prepared you for this moment when you realised that you, the protagonist, must face the impending doom and vanquish it with the strength of your willpower.

The disarming response, technically termed, “postprandial somnolence,” is commonly assocciated with holidays where people indulge a “little over” the satiated mark. An American culprit is Thanksgiving, as the classic turkey dish contains Tryptophan, an essential amino acid which promotes drowsiness. However, other foods lead to the same fate because of the presence of this same amino acid, such as spinach, tofu, cheese, and nuts. 

Energy Expense 

Once you’ve eaten, your sluggish system is inundated, and blood flow is redirected from your regular bodily functions to assist at your digestive core. An outcome of this transference is also the reason why you feel cold after eating. Digestion kicks into gear at the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and body processes. In turn, the sympathetic system, otherwise known as our fight-or-flight response, relaxes.  

The drowsy factor is derived from Tryptophan, the amino acid which stimulates the production of serotonin and melatonin. However, depending on the foods you eat, you’ll find two amino acids at war within your body: Tryptophan and large neutral amino acids (LNAA). When the LNAA are diverted, the fighting ceases, and Tryptophan monopolises the brain. This occurs when simple carbs incite an insulin increase accompanied by slowly digested fats and proteins. The combination is food-coma inducing, and down the sleepy rabbit hole you go! 

Thankfully, there are many ways to combat this bodily collapse, which seems to make us question ever eating again–although, it’ll probably only deter us for an evening or until the following day when we’ll find ourselves shuffling around the shelves in search of snacks once again.

Curb The Food Coma

If the coma is closing in on you and you’re scrolling the web for help, or you’ve come across this article before indulging, you have the power to change your eating experience with these nifty tips: 

Get Active

In your lethargic state, this may sound like the equivalent to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Although, taking a 15-30 minute walk or some moderate exercise after eating can stimulate your body to balance your blood sugar, increasing circulation and stave off the sluggish slump.

Digestive Enzymes

These formulated natural capsules are designed to help your digestive system do its thing. To see their power in person, empty two caps into a bowl of stodgy oat porridge and watch how, over the course of a few hours, it begins to break down.

You’ll understand why these are great to keep in your handbag. Other alternatives are chia seeds or papaya.

Soothing Sips

Drink a glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before and after your meal–rather than during–or else you will negatively impact your digestive juices.

Steeped peppermint or ginger tea are both known to help with digestion and ease bloating, gas and discomfort.

Carb-Protein Ratio

If you’ve got plans for the rest of the day and you want your food to power you through your tasks, choosing vegetables, salads, or grains will eliminate the blood sugar spike and bloated feeling that usually accompany the simple carbs and the fat combination. If you’re planning a relaxing evening, then dinner is the meal for you to indulge your protein and carb cravings. In this case, should your eyes begin to close you can traipse to bed and take full advantage of the drowsiness. 

Mindful Eating

This part isn’t complicated; in fact, it simplifies your eating experience by eliminating all distractions. Scrolling through Instagram or watching a Netflix show diverts your attention and you could easily miss your body’s signal that it’s full.

The suggested waiting period between courses is 15 to 20 minutes to give your body and mind time to catch up with your digestion. Being mindful of how much work your body has to do to break everything down might be enough to entice you to chew slower and more thoroughly. 

You don’t need to commit to a diet or meal plan to combat food comas. Knowing the cause can help you prevent or remedy it. This is handy information, especially when you need to be wide awake–in an interview situation, on a travel day, or just a routine day at the office. A vital takeaway here is the importance of self-love. Be kinder to yourself and make the changes that best suit your body–after all, moderation is key.