How to avoid the ‘festive food fatigue’

The last thing you want to be doing on Christmas Day is spending the afternoon in a gluttony-induced snooze on the sofa. After the all-important ritual of turkey with all the trimmings, the threat of a food fatigue is a very real thing. It’s also known as postprandial somnolence, which is the state of drowsiness or lethargy you feel after a big meal.

Our sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan explains: “We’ve all done it; a typical Christmas day scenario when the presents have been unwrapped and we’ve eaten a delicious meal only to nod off in a comfy chair in front of the TV.

A child sat beside their bed opening Christmas presents

“While this might sound like a nice cosy scenario, the reality is that many people end up feeling uncomfortable, bloated, ill and even spaced out as a result of consuming all of these calories. So many people say to me that they ended up actually missing out on some of Christmas day as a result of falling into this ‘food fatigue’.”

We want you to beat the infamous festive food fatigue with our sleep expert Dr Nerina’s top tips

1. Try not to over eat

We know it’s Christmas Day but watch your portion size. Allow time during your meal for the level of your body’s natural hormones leptin (which reduces hunger) to rise and ghrelin (normally only released when we initiate eating) to fall, thereby lowering your appetite and inducing a feeling of satiety.

2. Slow down your rate of eating

Put your knife and fork down between each mouthful. Drink a glass of water before you start eating which will pre-stretch your stomach, fooling your brain into thinking you’re more full than you actually are.

3. Don’t skip breakfast in the hope that you’ll be saving on the calories

Eating a big meal when you’re in starvation mode actually makes you sleepier. It also tends to promote over eating and higher fat storage, so treat yourself to your favourite Christmas brekkie!

4. Balance your meal

Have protein and carbohydrate in roughly a one-to-two proportion. Load up on the veggies and have less of the high-fat sauces and gravy (as good as they taste).

5. Be mindful

It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities and feel like you need to over indulge ‘because it’s Christmas’. Of course it’s the time of year when you want to treat yourself but try not to eat emotionally. Ask yourself ‘am I really hungry?’ This will help reduce the chances of you feeling over stuffed and sleepy.

6. Keep it simple

It’s worth thinking about how much of a spread you actually need this year. We all overbuy ahead of Christmas and are often left with tonnes of leftovers come the 26th. By scaling things back a little, not only will you save a bit of money you’ll be far less likely to over indulge!

7. Walk it off

There’s nothing like a family walk on Christmas Day. Fresh air and movement will do you the world of good. Head out after the big meal rather than vegging out, your body will thank you for it. As well as burning off all those calories, getting outside is an easy way to boost your vitamin D levels, which will ensure you get a good night’s sleep and wake up fresher on Boxing Day.

8. Don’t go to bed on a full stomach

Christmas Day is often an all-day eating event which leaves many of us heading to bed once the festivities are over with a full stomach. Going to bed overly full will increase fat storage and the sleep you do get won’t be as restorative, so get playing another round of charades!

9. Lastly, embrace it!

If all else fails, accept that it’s Christmas Day. Be kind to your ‘food baby’. Get snug on the sofa with your family under one of our heated throws and pop on your favourite Christmas film. Go to bed feeling happy and content and start the next day with good intentions.

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