Don’t over indulge
Now I am an advocate of regular eating, I think it makes eating a healthy balanced diet easier and safer on the whole. What I am not a proponent of is one off large meals followed by hours of nothing else, you know, the good ol’ English 3 square meals a day way.
Instead keep your main meals frequent and moderate in size, I suppose the ‘little and often’ cliché is coming into play a little. You see, when you consume a large meal you give the body a lot to do, there is physical digestion through mechanical movements such as chewing and then the contractions in the stomach.
Feel less sleepy
Then there is the release of ‘happy’ and ‘sleep’ hormones, after eating a large meal we receive a spike in insulin which in turn triggers the movement of tryptophan into the brain stimulating the release of those happy & sleep/calm hormones serotonin and melatonin. Hardly surprising when you consider how ‘happy’ food can make us feel, that 90% of the bodies serotonin is found within the gut.
A carb dense meal such as a baguette or large pasta dish has a particularly profound effect on the amount of serotonin released, which although can stimulate the above mentioned serotonin which will make you feel content which is often followed by feelings of sleepiness.
Fat & Protein density
OK so I am covering the 3 main food groups here , carbs, protein and fat, which could leave you feeling helpless if all 3 make you feel tired. However not all meals are created equal, take a health packed chicken and avocado salad which is high in fat and protein, but inherently low in total carbs (glycemic load), with this meal you aren’t getting the triple whammy so to speak.
Conversely with a sneaky McDonalds for lunch not only are you getting the refined high GI carbs from the chips, you are also getting the protein and high fat hit from the greasy nasty burger you just downed!
Digestion becomes priority numero uno after eating, especially when you have eaten your own weight in food! Consequently the body initiates what’s known as a preferential shunt/shift whereby the blood is channelled to your digestive tract which in turn partially withdraws some of the blood flow from the brain and body to aid digestion. Obviously this is a minor shift, the brain will always reign supreme, but it can be enough to make that little space under your desk, or the back seat of your car all the more appealing for a quick 40 winks!