25/12/2015 8:00 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

How To Tackle The Christmas Day Food Coma

Young woman eating candycane, close-up of mouth
Barros & Barros via Getty Images
Young woman eating candycane, close-up of mouth

Croissants for breakfast with a side of Lindt balls. A spoonful of trifle (because somebody has to test it). A sliver of ham as an appetiser before tucking into the dips, cheeses and salted nuts... Welcome to Christmas morning people, brace yourselves because lunch hasn’t even been served yet.

With the presents, carols and Christmas cheer comes a day of guilt-free eating and drinking (as it should) but for the majority of us at least, by late afternoon on Christmas day we’re stricken by a food induced coma -- one that invariably leaves us couch ridden and regretful.

“Contrary to popular belief sleeping it off actually won’t help you out all that much,” Dr Jane Bowen, Research Dietitian and contributing author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet online told The Huffington Post Australia.

Instead, you should be aiming to keep the tummy moving by going for a brisk walk or doing some kind of physical activity (that doesn’t involve the couch).

“But a better idea, is to avoid getting into a food coma in the first place,” Bowen said.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to skip the yummy stuff -- after all, it’s Christmas! It just means you need to make smarter choices around what you consume before the main event as well as being mindful of the foods that are overly high in calories.

“It’s always good to approach a meal feeling hungry and a good way to do that is to avoid snacking,” Bowen said.

However, given there’s snacks, treats and chips in every direction -- doing so on Christmas day is pretty tricky.

Too. many. treats.

“Try to avoid cheeses, dips and things with a lot of pastry like mince pies which can actually be quite energy dense and don’t fill you up -- if you have to snack a better option is a bowl of Christmas cherries or a few nuts,” Bowen said.

Whether or not to have breakfast on Christmas day is something many people are divided over, too.

“There is new evidence to suggest that skipping breakfast is fine, so on Christmas day I wouldn’t be against it -- if you wake up hungry however, go for something light like a fruit platter,” Bowen said.

As for dessert, Bowen recommends aiming for something based around fruit.

“Make fruit the main component. A slice of pavlova with lots of fresh berries is a great option. Have a little bit of custard and go easy on the cream,” Bowen said.

According to Bowen, too many of us are not in touch with our own hunger signals these days.

“A really good thing for people to practice is waiting for the feeling of hunger, so looking for signs like a rumbling tummy,” Bowen said.

“That grumble is a sign that your body has processed and pushed through all the food in your stomach to the lower part of your gut and that you are ready for some more,” Bowen said.

Additional tips with Sharon Natoli, Food & Nutrition Australia

  • For breakfast choose something rich in protein like eggs, this will help you to feel satisfied, therefore managing your appetite and helping to reduce overall food intake at lunch and dinner.
  • Go for a walk, or get involved in a backyard cricket game to help mobilise your muscles and assist with the digestive process.
  • There is some research to indicate that drinking peppermint tea can assist with digestion. Peppermint contains methanol which helps relax the muscles around the digestive system making it easier for food to move through.

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