Holidays are sometimes thought as a “pass go” card in the game monopoly. We go to dinner or parties thinking we can eat what ever we like and all that we can. Does that describe you? Are you gobbling up to much food on Thanksgiving?

Although we love celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoy eating the turkey and the trimmings it has some effects on the body. Sleepiness, flatulence, indigestion and unbuttoning our pants may be some of the side effects of our holiday meals.

There is a connection from the brain to the stomach through a hormone called ghrelin that tells us when we are full. However, we can override the signal and continue to eat. Thanksgiving in particular is a feast your eyes day or as my father would say – your eyes are bigger then your belly! As soon as we smell the turkey and the trimmings we have on some level already told our bodies that we are eating more then usual. (Dr. jay Kuemmerlle a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic) When we eat and the stomach stretches it prompts hormones to be released telling the brain we are full. If we ignore these signals we can continue to eat and eventually feeling like we are going to burst. So what does this really do to the body?

Once you have your first bite at Thanksgiving your stomach acids are increased to accommodate the food and the stomach starts to expand.  The average American consumes 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day, according to Dr. Pamela Peeke from University of Maryland School of Medicine. Your stomach capacity is about 8 cups of food but it can range from 4 to 12 cups according to Tufts University’s Dr. Saltzman.

So what does overeating really do to the body?

Over eating makes our bodies work harder in many ways. It requires our heart to pump more blood to the stomach and intestines and for some people may put them at an increased risk of heart attacks. Lets not forget the gallbladder is working to release more bile to digest the extra fat intake. High fat meals although helps with satiety slows down the digestion.

Did you ever have the “food coma” effect where you wanted to sleep after a meal?

Turkey is known to cause drowsiness due an amino acid called tryptophan. Dr. Goldberg a NY based doctor said there is not enough tryptophan from thanksgiving turkey to have an affect on people. However, he agrees that the extra work your body does to digest the meal and extra calories is what causes the food coma.

On a side note – please think of food safety for you and your guests. Leaving food out for more then a couple of hours will increase the chance of bacterial growth. Prevent cross contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils. Be aware of guest with food allergies and let them know what allergens are in which dishes.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

Happy Thanksgiving to All!