What happened to your body on Thanksgiving?

The brief Thanksgiving break we received this past weekend went by way too quickly. I’m sure many of you took a nap after your “Turkey Bowl”, then indulged in all of the food you could get your hands on during Thanksgiving dinner. I know I did.

For some people this happens to be the best time of year. You end the November month with a great meal, and then immediately get ready for the Christmas holiday. Yet for others, the beginning of the holiday season may mark the beginning of a time of stress on the body.

The healthy amount of calories a person should consume in a day is 2,500. The average American can consume up to 4,500 calories during Thanksgiving. Family members asking questions such as why don’t you have a girlfriend can actually increase stress causing you to eat more during this holiday.

So what exactly is going on in your body as it’s overloaded with calories and conversation?

Before Thanksgiving even begins your brain begins to set anticipatory emotions that will set the tone for your meal. There are many different types of emotions that can be anticipated before this luscious meal. Of course, what you’ll anticipate and how you’ll react differs from person to person. Some people will be happy, others, sad or remorseful, and some may just not want to be there.

Once food hits your stomach, the digestion process begins with the help of enzymes. Carbohydrates such as vegetables and sweet potatoes are digested more slowly than regular potatoes or desserts because they are higher in fiber. Obviously as you eat your stomach expands. When your stomach is expanding it sends a signal to your brain that you have eaten enough. Going back to the anticipation of eating a lot before you even started the meal can block out these signals which keeps your stomach stretching as you continue to eat.

As your blood is being filled with sugar from your feast, your pancreas releases massive amounts of insulin to eat up the sugar. While amino acids enter the bloodstream and are spread throughout your body to repair muscles and tissues a spike in insulin can cause too much sugar to be pushed out of your bloodstream, leading to low blood sugar. This is the reason that we feel tired after we feast. Your body wants to bring your blood sugar back to balance, which makes you crave even more sugar.

The most affected part of your body during this feast would be your heart. After you eat a big meal, your body makes digestion a big priority and calls for a lot of blood, which can cause a drop in blood pressure. This could lead to light-headedness, fatigue, and nausea. Instead of a reduced heart rate, you’re left with your heart working harder than normal to get blood to your digestive system and an increased heart rate.

Talking to food “Condi sour” Nick Burgasser post-Thanksgiving meal about the things that happened in his body during this meal didn’t really seem to faze Nick. “Nothing is going to stop me from eating as much food as I possibly can on Thanksgiving,” said Burgasser. I couldn’t agree more with you Nick.

After having a new light shed on my view towards Thanksgiving, nothing really changed the way I spent my holiday. Thanksgiving is the one day a year you can eat as much food as you want and not feel bad about it, and will forever be my favorite holiday.