Overcoming the Thanksgiving Day Food Coma

Ah, Turkey Day. We love and hate you.

The enormous spread of food to gorge on, family and friends around, and of course, the inevitable food coma that hits just as you clear your plate. Dessert time comes, and you *have* to take a slice of pumpkin pie, because it’s Thanksgiving, duh.

But what if you could enjoy all of your favorite Thanksgiving delicacies without nursing a food coma right after? Actually, you can. But it takes some serious willpower and mindfulness to avoid overindulging on that fateful November day.

First off, let’s consider why that food coma occurs. Obviously, overeating can have a tiring effect, but there’s more to the story than just going back for seconds.

Turkey is traditionally the staple of a Thanksgiving meal, and while it isn’t an unhealthy choice, it does contain a fatigue-inducing amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is not produced by the body, so we can only get it through the foods that we eat.

The tryptophan that we consume is used to make niacin, a B vitamin that is vital for the production of serotonin. Serotonin is then used to make melatonin, a hormone that is produced to regulate sleep cycles. So, nodding off after your Thanksgiving feast is actually justified!

Now, let’s focus on a major holiday problem: overeating. It’s all too easy to load up your plate on Thanksgiving, especially with family members bringing seemingly endless dishes and wishing for you to try everything.

As conversation flows, you mindlessly eat away until all of a sudden, you think you might explode. It’s certainly not a pleasant feeling, but it is a familiar one.

Eliminating the Thanksgiving Day Food Coma

Every year, my Thanksgiving table is set with an amount of food that is humanly impossible to finish, even with 20 family members there, ready to feast. I personally hate nursing a food coma, so I’ve tried out some tips and tricks to help with portion control that will help you think twice before you gobble (pun intended) that second plate right up.

Here’s what works:

  • Drink plenty of water: You should always aim to be hydrated, but especially on Thanksgiving Day. Our bodies often confuse thirst with hunger, and with all of the food in front of you, it can be difficult to discern between the two. Drink one full glass of water before diving into the Thanksgiving feast. 
  • Eat breakfast: Don’t arrive to Thanksgiving on an empty stomach! If you do, you’ll end up gorging beyond control until it’s too late, and the food coma will set in. Try something rich in proteins and healthy fats to tide you over until dinner.
  • Take your time: You will not run out of food. Enjoy each bite that you take, and don’t rush to clear the plate. Eating slowly will help with digestion, and give your body time to signal when it’s full.
  • Have some green tea after the meal: Green tea is great for digestion, and it has catechins to help burn fat. 
  • Go easy on the booze: When you’re buzzed, you’re inhibitions will give way, which can lead you to overeating without realizing it. Instead, opt for water or tea.

Here’s what doesn’t:

  • Rounding off your meal with some fruit: Since fruit is a fast quick digesting food, it can become increasingly uncomfortable to mix it in with all of the rich, decadent Thanksgiving Day treats. Skip the fruit after your meal for easier digestion.
  • Passing on your favorites: Even if your favorite Thanksgiving food isn’t the healthiest, don’t skip out on it. If you do, it’ll leave you wanting something more during the meal, which may cause you to load up on other things. Just enjoy your favorites, but in moderation.
  • Drinking fruit juice: While it may seem like a healthy option, fruit juice is packed full of sugar that you don’t need on Thanksgiving. You’ll most likely already be over the recommended sugar amount for the day, so just stick with water today.
  • Wearing restricting clothing: The idea isn’t a bad one, as it can help you realize that your tummy is full as your jeans feel tighter and tighter. However, tight clothing can interfere with digestion, and just make you more uncomfortable overall. Be mindful instead of torturing yourself in super tight clothing.

Beat the Post Turkey-Day Boat

If, however, you did end up gorging, then here are the best ways to beat the post-Turkey Day bloat:

  • Don’t beat yourself up: This is arguably the most important thing to keep in mind. Rather than stepping on the scale and wallowing in guilt, start out the next day with a plan to eat healthy, whole foods, and to get moving. Don’t feel bad about what you ate yesterday; It was Thanksgiving, after all! 
  • Hydrate: Be sure to drink tons of water the day after your feast to help with digestion and to rid your body of excess salt 
  • Get moving: Do some light exercise, such as walking or yoga, to get things moving again in your digestive system, and to keep hunger under control.
  • Sip on some SUTRA Black or Gold: Both mixtures will help ease digestive problems, and the superfood content will get your body in detox mode after all that rich Thanksgiving food.
  • Try some tea: Peppermint tea is great for settling an upset stomach, and ginger is effective in reducing a bloated belly 
  • Load up on fiber: And more specifically, don’t skip meals the next day. First thing in the morning, eat a breakfast full of fiber and healthy carbohydrates, such as a bowl of oatmeal. This will help with any blood sugar crashes, and help keep you out of all the leftovers in the fridge 

Between the endless amounts of food and the family small talk, Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming experience. It’s super important to practice self-love at all times, but especially during the holidays.  Maybe you did end up overeating, or maybe the family gatherings are especially difficult for you.

Try taking a step back, listening to your body and mind, and manage your stress in whatever ways work for you. Whether it be reading a book, taking a bath, or just escaping the festivities for a few minutes alone, make yourself a priority. Your holiday season and health will be better for it.

About The Author - Lindsay Ware

Beginning during her high school years, Lindsay noticed an immediate dip in energy. Along with fatigue, she also showed signs of lack of concentration, digestive problems, and a weakened immune system. After years of non-conclusive tests at the clinic, Lindsay finally received the correct diagnosis of Celiac Disease from her local Naturopath. After cutting out gluten completely, Lindsay realized how much of a difference changing your diet can make to your overall wellbeing. Instead of drinking 3 coffees a day, Lindsay relies on the natural energies of clean foods to keep her mind sharp and her writing skills flowing.