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Your Body on Thanksgiving

By Sara Butler

Your environment has a much larger impact on your body than you may realize, and your home on Thanksgiving is no exception. If you could look inside your body on Thanksgiving Day to see how it is impacted, then this is what you might see.

Walking Into Your Kitchen

You know the smell of the turkey cooking or your favorite pie baking in the oven? Well, just one whiff of that and your body begins to change. The enzymes and gastric fluids in your digestive system begin to secrete in your stomach, getting ready for the meal you smell cooking. Your digestive system is getting primed and pumped for the festivities ahead.

After the First Bite

Once you take that delectable first bite of your favorite foods, your stomach begins to get ready for the goodness ahead. Your stomach does this by actually expanding in order to accommodate the food it's getting ready for that will need to be broken down and digested.

Your gastrointestinal tract also starts to prepare as it senses food is on the way. It releases more digestive enzymes from your pancreas and stomach into the intestines. Insulin is released so that it can turn the sugar you’re eating into glucose to feed your cells, and that release triggers the release of leptin, a hormone in your brain that allows your body to release more insulin.

Carbohydrate Bliss

Five minutes into your meal, all those carbs and sugars you’ve been eating cause your body to release serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel good and rewards your brain. This is the moment when you feel the rush of good feelings from eating.

A few minutes after that, the reward system in your brain is activated even further and spurs you on to eat even more, which is why seconds are so hard to say no to on Thanksgiving.

Twenty Minutes In

When you start to get full and begin to wish you’d worn larger pants, the nerves in your stomach stimulate the satiety centers of your brain to let you know you’ve had enough. The problem is that these signals are easy to ignore as you continue to nosh on all the goodness before you. Plus, if you’ve eaten really fast, then your brain can’t keep up and you’re probably way past the point of full when you start to feel it.

Nap Time

The turkey isn’t what you should be blaming for your post-Thanksgiving food coma. Your stuffed stomach is the culprit behind that urge to take a nap. A lot of blood and energy is now focused on your digestive system to break down all the stuff you just ate. This makes you feel sleepy. So try to give yourself a bit of a break this year and have enough to satisfy but not enough to knock you out!

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