What happens to your body when you overeat at Christmas

People tend to eat a lot more during the holidays than they usually do, sometimes double the amount. This means our bodies will have a lot to process. But what exactly happens in our body and what part is played by our brains?
How to best enjoy that holiday meal

Indulging in a big holiday meal can have some annoying after effects. Here we look at how your body deals with a lot of food and how you can avoid some of the after effects.

The holidays are around the corner and so is a lot of delicious food! Families come together and slave in the kitchen in order to serve the most delectable meals and devour them as a group. However, the chewing and digesting of this food are not the only things required from your body when you eat these scrumptious bites. More processes come in to play and mentally it is about more than a satisfied feeling.

The interaction between brain and stomach

It all starts when you first smell or see the meal. Your brain remembers earlier experiences with the specific dish or time of year and you start to produce saliva. The stomach starts to makes juices and hormones are flowing through your body. In other words, the body starts the process of digestion simply through the smell, sight or thought of food.

Equally the brain put the body to work. Your blood sugar lowers due to the production of the hormone insulin. The signal that is sent by this drop in blood sugar causes the brain to want to prevent an energy shortage, which means it wants to eat. In short, thinking of eating results in us eating sooner.

Research, however, also shows that if we think a meal will be particularly filling, we will feel full sooner. So, in order not to over eat during the holidays, it is best to think that all that delicious food will be very filling.

Consequences of overeating

The after dinner slump or food coma
A lot of people have indicated that they are tired after a meal and are suffering from an after dinner slump, or food coma. This is a real thing and is the result of the process where eating a lot causes your body to produce a lot of insulin. This causes your blood sugar to spike and that literally tires you out. So it is very much possible that you will go into a food coma after a big holiday meal.

Bathroom issues
Celebrations can easily cause you to ingest too much sugar. This may result in the sugar passing from your stomach to your bowls too quickly. The sugar will be combined with a lot of fluid which may cause you some problems when you visit the bathroom after dinner.

That bloated feeling
If your stomach feels bloated after dinner it is possible that you didn’t properly chew your food. This often happens when you are eating a lot and eating quickly. To avoid that bloated feeling try to slow down and enjoy your meal and make sure you chew properly. Another factor may be carbonated drinks, as they too can cause bloating. So think about what and how much you are drinking.

Feeling nauseous
A delicious holiday meal usually not only contains a lot of sugar but also fat. This can make you feel nauseated as digesting the fat will take your body the more time than the other parts of the meal. It will also slow down your digestion. This can mean that your stomach is too full and your body does not want to process the food and wants to expel it. This you can avoid by not eating too much and by eating slowly.

We mentioned a food coma above, which makes you feel tired after eating. But the opposite is also a possible effect of overeating, where you get a very unsettled feeling when you are trying to go to sleep. When you take in a lot of sugar (glucose) it might keep you awake. This is why it is best to stop eating earlier and leave some time for your body to digest all the food before you try to go to sleep.

Keep the above in mind but above all enjoy your holiday dinner!

Do you want to know more about your body and discover your BMI? Visit BODY WORLDS Amsterdam and do the free Body Scan, worth €35!