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What Overeating Does to Your Body slideshow

What Overeating Does to Your Body slideshow



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Overindulging does a lot more damage to your body than you think

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Overeating can happen intentionally or unintentionally. It usually leaves you feeling sluggish and regretting the last few bites of your meal. With Thanksgiving approaching —a holiday where we are likely to overindulge — it’s important to know the side effects of overeating and how to prevent it from happening. Whenever you sit down for a meal, be aware of how you feel and how you want to feel after you consume the meal. Foti provided The Daily Meal with valuable information on overeating and overeating prevention.

What Overeating Does to Your Body

Thinkstock

Overeating can happen intentionally or unintentionally. Foti provided The Daily Meal with valuable information on overeating and overeating prevention.

Damage: Emotional Distress

Despite the rush you experience when you let yourself indulge, guilt seems to follow when your stomach starts to hurt. “Short term effects can be both emotional and physical,” Foti said. “Emotional effects include feeling guilty or sad about the poor food choices being made.”

Damage: Extra Work for the Stomach

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“Consuming too much food too fast can result in extra work load for many organs including the stomach and intestinal tract,” Foti said. “Your stomach is a muscle lining that can stretch and contract fairly easily. This gives us the ability to handle large volumes of food at once.” When your stomach stretches, it takes more food to make you feel full.

Damage: Storing Energy as Fat and Weight Gain

Overeating every once in a while may not seem like a problem, but if it happens several times a week, it can have an impact. “In the long term, your body will continue to store excess energy as fat causing you to gain weight rather quickly,” Foti said.

Damage: Extra Work for the Pancreas

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“Your pancreas has to also work harder to release more insulin – causing a rapid fat deposit mechanism,” Foti said. “Overeating simply causes your body to store excess energy as fat.”

Damage: Risk of Diseases

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By overeating high-fat and high-sugar foods, you put yourself at risk for chronic disease. Foti said that once you gain weight from overeating, the risk is high of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Damage: Risk of Bad Habit Development

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We are creatures of habit and doing something repeatedly encourages similar behavior. “Overeating on a regular basis also puts you at risk of developing this as a habit,” Foti said. “Habitual overeating can be a difficult behavior to change and cause you to become overweight or obese.”

Recovery: How to Bounce Back

Aurelie Jouan

“The best way to bounce back emotionally is to forgive yourself and learn from it,” Foti said. “Understand why it is you’re overeating and start consciously practicing healthy eating behaviors.”

Prevention: Be Accountable

“The best way to start this change is to get some support and accountability,” Foti said. “Food journaling is a great way to have accountability and become mindful of your food choices. If you find overeating to be a difficult habit for you to change, working with an expert like a dietitian can help give you the support and guidance you need.”

Prevention: Listening to Hunger Cues

“Most individuals have lost the ability to sense and listen to hunger cues,” Foti said. “Rather than physical hunger telling us when and how much to eat, we learn to listen to other cues like time of day, stress, social settings, and food availability. Be mindful of your food choices. Make sure you are not distracted during your meals, use all your senses, and take your time.”

Prevention: Slowing Down

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“Overeating is also commonly seen with eating too quickly or eating while distracted,” Foti said. “There are many steps to the eating process and missing one or progressing too quickly through the phases can cause your brain to miss out on the signals that tell us when we’re full. Simply slowing down and focusing on your meal is sometimes enough to sense and be able to listen to physical hunger cues again.”


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.


Sleepy After Eating A Big Meal? Here's Why

Calories give us energy, so why do big meals make us sleepy? This counterintuitive experience is a common one, and that goes double on Thanksgiving, where the average American packs up to 3,500 calories in a single meal. And while many people blame the turkey's tryptophan for their soporific state, the truth is that other foods -- like cheese and eggs -- have just as much of the sleep inducing amino acid.

So what gives? It turns out that a few factors conspire to make the Thanksgiving meal the sleepiest yet.

First of all, if you've traveled for the holidays, shifts in your schedule, stress or even slight jet lag can take their toll regardless of what you're eating. But, add to that a few hormonal shifts that happen in the body after a chow down, and you've got a recipe for food coma.

For one, high-carb, high-fat and high-sugar foods (like, say, buttery mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) trigger a neural response as soon as they hit the small intestine, explains Scientific American. That response, in what's called the parasympathetic nervous system, tells our body to slow down and focus on digesting rather than go out and seek more food.

More specifically, researchers found, a group of brain cells called orexin neurons that are found in the hypothalmus are very sensitive to glucose levels, which spike after a big meal. Those neurons produce a protein, orexin, which moderates wakefulness in the brain.

But orexin isn't the only sleep-related neurohormone affected by food. As the quantity of food increases, so too does the amount of insulin released as a normal part of the body's digestion. The insulin, in turn, increases the amount of seratonin and melatonin that flood the brain, two chemicals associated with drowsiness (and, for that matter, happiness).

While there's no way to avoid a sleep response to a big meal (other than reducing the overall amount you eat and lowering fat, refined carbohydrate and sugar in the first place), it isn't dangerous or a sign of a greater health problem.

It's important to note that having a big meal can affect the important rest you need later in the evening. That's particularly true for those who eat late -- as often happens during a celebratory meal like Thanksgiving.

As Dr. Loren Greene, a clinical associate professor in the Endocrinology Division of the Department of Medicine at NYU previously explained to HuffPost Healthy Living, "If you eat a late dinner, say 10 p.m. with a dessert, some times you start putting out insulin in the middle of the night which can cause your blood sugar to peak and drop," Greene says. That, in turn, can disrupt the sleep cycle, waking you in the middle of the night or preventing one of the deeper sleep cycles we require for true restfulness.

The moral of the story? Eat early, eat smart and try to get yourself back on your normal eating and sleeping schedule as soon as possible.