How to Avoid a Food Coma


Food co•ma (food COH-muh)

noun: A state of extreme sluggishness induced by the consumption of a large quantity of food.

Sample usage: “Are you seriously asking me to play football after Thanksgiving dinner? I’m in such a food coma. I’m never eating again.”

We’ve all been there. Lying on the couch with a bloated belly and an unbuckled belt moaning, “why did I eat soooo much?” Food comas are all fun and games until you reach for that third slice of pie and everything starts to go downhill.



But is “food coma” a real thing? Yes, according to Ilyse Schapiro, a certified nutritionist and co-author of the book Should I Scoop Out My Bagel?: And 99 Other Answers to Your Everyday Diet and Nutrition Questions to Help You Lose Weight, Feel Great, and Live Healthy.

“A food coma is a real thing, also referred to as postprandial somnolence,” Schapiro explains. “It occurs when you eat too much, especially carbohydrate-rich foods, resulting in fatigue. Symptoms include sleepiness, fogginess, extreme fullness, bloating, unbuttoning of pants and possibly even swearing off food for a while.”

Turkey usually gets blamed for making us feel sleepy after the Thanksgiving feast. That’s because it contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which impacts serotonin levels and induces feelings of relaxation and fatigue. But it’s the starchy carbohydrates that are the more likely culprit behind your food coma, like mashed potatoes, stuffing, buttery rolls, and of course, pumpkin pie.

So what’s the secret to avoiding the dreaded food coma? Schapiro suggests drinking a probiotic-rich product like kefir. The protein keeps you satisfied, which helps prevent overindulging, and the probiotics help with digestion and prevent bloating.

Here are some other tips for avoiding that food coma this Thanksgiving, courtesy of

Eat Throughout the Day

The last thing you want to do is starve yourself all day, only to show up ravenous at dinner – a surefire recipe for overindulging. Before you head out, eat a small, protein-filled snack, like a kefir smoothie. It will keep your blood sugar steady and prevent you from going crazy at the feast.

Eat What You Love, but Not Too Much

Just because Thanksgiving only comes once a year, doesn’t mean you have to eat everything on the table. Focus on the foods that you really love, and start with one serving. OK… maybe two, it is the holidays after all!

Focus on Fiber

Try to fill at least half of your plate with vegetables or salad. This limits the amount of potatoes or gravy-slathered meat you can fit on your plate (and in your mouth). Plus, the fiber helps to balance your blood sugar and assists in digestion.

Sip on Mint

Wash down your dinner with a mug of hot ginger or peppermint tea. Like kefir, hot herbal teas help with digestion. Plus, the natural sweet flavor in peppermint tea will get your mouth watering for dessert!


Do you have any tips to keep you from overeating during the holidays? Let us know by visiting us on Facebook, Twitter of Instagram. Be sure to check out our Made for Fall Pinterest board for more tips, tricks and our favorite recipes!