We are all guilty of overindulging when it comes to silly season. Saying no to a second helping of your nan’s famous turkey and ham pie can be shockingly difficult when you’re feeling festive. Despite our fullness, shoveling another spoonful of mincemeat or pavlova into our mouths always feels like a good idea – at the time.
Then the fullness hits, we begin to feel bloated, uncontrollably tired and a little worse for wear.
So what happens to our bodies to make us feel so unwell?
After the first minute
Your taste buds are thanking you for delighting their senses, so they begin to send signals to the brain to keep going. Chewing breaks down the sugars and starches in your food, sending them into your bloodstream and making them ready for digestion.
15 minutes later…
Your stomach and small intestine start telling your brain that they are overworked and above capacity. This is for a normal meal, if you keep eating, your brain won’t be alerted until after you’ve helped yourself to seconds, or thirds.
One hour in
Still reeling from dessert? That’s your insulin levels spiking in an attempt to control the sugar that’s pulsating through your bloodstream. If you skipped dessert and opted for extra helpings of a salty side or savoury main than your blood vessels may become slightly less supple. For those who have a diet that is regularly packed to the brim with salty foods, you run the risk of developing stiff blood vessels and increase risk of heart-disease.
One to two hours later
Your liver has been working overtime to convert food into nutrients that your body is able to absorb. Depending on what you have been consuming, most of the fat and calories you ingested have been converted into short-term energy. Exercising before festive eating can increase the amount of space in your stomach and aid in the digestion process by kickstarting your metabolism.
When we binge we consume way more calories than the body needs to survive, this means that excess triglycerides may begin to manifest themselves into fat cells.
After two hours
Your stomach will begin to feel better after the digestion process is nearing completion. Your blood vessels should also be back to normal by now.
So how do we combat this?
Pretending that we are all going to be able to withstand the urge to binge eat over the holidays can sometimes be unrealistic, but making slight changes to your daily activity or what you do outside eating can make a huge difference.
Fight the urge to criticise yourself after over eating. We are all guilty of having one-too-many slices of pie every now and again. Feeling guilty can actually increase our risk of binge eating – the same goes for exercising as a way to combat overeating.
Don’t punish yourself with exercise when you overeat. Instead incorporate healthy, daily workouts that don’t feel like a chore. This will increase your likelihood to keep them up around the silly season.
Always keep in mind that moderation and consistency is the key to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.