What Causes Food Coma and What is its Cure?

“We all eat to live. But some people live to eat!” One of the most common saying we have come across in our life for people who love eating or who overeat their food. Food is obviously essential for our living; but excessive eating can also be dangerous. One of the ill effects of over eating is Food coma. In this current article we will talk about the fact which causes food comas and also know about its cure.

What is Food Coma and What are its Symptoms?

What is Food Coma and What are its Symptoms?

Usually we feel bit drowsy or sleepy after a heavy meal. However, when someone stuffs himself or herself with heavy amount of food at ones, especially when the food contains lot of carbohydrates he or she suffers from a state known as Food coma. Food coma is also known as carb coma and scientifically termed as Postprandial somnolence.

Actually a state of food coma is known through its two components; one component being linked to the activation of parasympathetic nervous system in response to mass in the gastrointestinal tract that generates the symptom of a low energy and another component being a certain state of sleepiness which is believed to be caused due to the neurochemical and hormonal changes occurring related to the rate at which glucose is transported in to the bloodstream and its downstream effects on the transport of amino acid in the CNS or central nervous system.

Various Symptoms Of Food Comas Include The Following:

  • Drowsiness, sleepiness
  • Laziness
  • Bloating
  • Sense of extreme fullness
  • Lethargy
  • Gas problems
  • Mental fogginess
  • Self loathing
  • Extreme feeling of regret
  • Unbuttoning-of-the-pants (except in case you are wearing the elastic pants)

It is obvious; all these symptoms of food comas look irritating. However, it must be noted that food comas can be completely avoidable. There are people who choose eating in excess during holidays or festivals, there are people who skip their meals and then take a heavy meal later and so on. Such cases they are more likely to suffer from the symptoms of food comas. Apart from this, if you skip exercises and keep on eating you are definitely going to suffer from the irritating and unnecessary symptoms of food comas.

In our following arrays here we will talk more about the causes of food comas as well as know about its cure.

What Causes Food Comas?

Coming down straight to the causes of food comas, here we have something to talk about.

By now, we know that food comas are caused because of overeating as we usually experience the symptoms after heavy meals. Below we will talk about what actually happens after eating a large meal in our body.

But prior to that, we must know about two systems that work in our body.

  • The parasympathetic nervous system.
  • The sympathetic nervous system of our body.

The parasympathetic nervous system allows us to relax and digest the food we eat while the sympathetic nervous system allows us to move quickly and deal with stress and thus also known as flight or fight.

Now, what exactly happens when we eat is the digestive process of our body turns up the parasympathetic nervous system and turns down the sympathetic nervous system. This results in an obvious state of food coma where we feel mildly sleepy or drowsy. When we over eat, the symptoms of food comas become vibrant and known to cause issues in our normal living. When we stuff ourselves with food the parasympathetic nervous system starts firing up and this in turn leads our body to focus the bulk of its energy on the process of digestion. This is the reason our body starts turning chilly after excessive eating. Here it is known that the blood flows more towards the body’s core and less towards the extremities.

Again; we also know that food coma also occur when the body spikes its level of blood sugar or the insulin levels. As the food breaks down in to the simplest form of sugar inside or glucose; our body uses it as fuel or energy and this makes us experience a surge in the blood sugar. In order to counter this spike, our body releases the insulin hormone which aids in reducing glucose in the blood and get its normal level. The increase in the level of insulin in the body results in production of a bunch of brain hormones like melatonin or the sleepy hormone and serotonin or the happy hormone to be made. Thus there occurs a change in the brain chemistry and this may result in the symptoms of drowsiness or sleepiness and also cause some food addictions.

We have also mentioned earlier that one can also experience a symptom of ceremonial unbuttoning-of-the-pants because of food coma. This may actually sound funny, but it happens as over eating causes the stomach to expand, which results in the unbuttoning of the pants. The feeling of overly full, gassy and bloated also happens due to this.

What is the Cure for Food Coma?

Now we will know about some ways to cure the symptoms of food coma. So, if you have already stuffed yourself with all your favourite foods and feeling drowsy or having any other symptoms of food comas then you can follow some of the below mentioned steps to fight against it. However make a point that in case you have any serious issue because of your condition after overeating do not fail to reach a medical professional for the appropriate diagnosis and relevant treatments.

  • One of the best cure for food coma is to go for walk though it may not be an activity of choice after a heavy meal but some brisk physical activity can help cure food coma.
  • Drinking a cup of coffee can also help in curing food coma as aids in boosting the sympathetic nervous system.
  • Having a glass of buttermilk can be an excellent choice to get rid of food coma as it aids digestion.
  • Apart from these diets you can also prefer taking herbal tea after you have taken heavy diet to cure food coma or once you are feeling some symptoms of food coma
  • Lie down on your left side after excessive eating and let your stomach do its duty, doing this can help in curing food coma.
  • Take a diet rich in protein but poor in simple carbohydrates. Though it might be difficult for you to eat once again when you have stuffed yourself with heavy amount of food that is already making you feel full and heavy; yet you need to maintain a balance in the body after you have loaded up with simple carbohydrates while overeating. The higher level of proteins taken as a counterbalancing diet will balance out the carbohydrates and will help cure the symptoms like sleepiness, fuzziness, and other feelings in food coma.
  • You also require taking a diet containing high fats and low carbohydrates. Taking fat rich diet will slow down the glucose spike.
  • One of the greatest diet that works as antidotes include vegetables with two tablespoons of hummus and one hard-boiled egg; one ounce of almonds with around a half cup of chopped pears, one cup of baby carrots and one piece of string cheese; or about 3 ounces of sliced turkey wrapped along with lettuce, tomato, 1/8th of avocado and a drizzle of some spicy mustard.

Some Tips to Prevent Food Coma:

If you are wondering whether you can avoid suffering from the irritating symptoms of food comas then obviously the best answer would be, “Yes! By avoiding overeating” 😀 Well, apart from this below we have mentioned some of the effective tips you can try on so as to avoid food comas.

  • Make sure you are maintaining proper time during your different meals. This would help you manage the level of your body’s natural hormones Leptin to rise and Ghrelin to fall. Leptin is known to reduce hunger and Ghrelin is the hormone that is released only when we initiate eating. By this, you will be able to lower your appetite and induce a feeling of satiety.
  • One of the most important tip to avoid food comas is have a balanced meal; i.e. have protein and carbohydrate in roughly a 1:2 ratio. Include the plant based or marine based fats and avoid animal-based saturated fats in your meal. Make sure you take vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, dairy products etc in your diet as they contain some crucial nutrients which cannot be synthesized by our body.
  • Try to be quite active after your meal. Take a short walk or do some moderately active workouts which would help you promote a better blood sugar control in your body.
  • Most importantly chew thoroughly and slowly so as to help the body in the digestive process.
  • Don’t skip your meals and do not go for the titanic meal after skipping one time meal. This can make you experience the symptoms of food comas.
  • Ginger tea or peppermint tea after meal works great in proper digestion of your food.
  • Eat in regular intervals of 3-4 hours, starting from your morning meal to the evening meal. This eating pattern in not only known to reduce your weight but also help you maintain your insulin level.
  • Having a glass of water before your meal can help prevent over eating which causes food coma.


Now, we are known to the causes of food comas and also know about some of the ways to cure the symptoms caused due to food coma along with the tricks to avoid food comas. So, this festive and holiday season make sure you are going busy with fun, happiness and enjoyment and not ruining your days by getting trapped with the troubling symptoms of food comas. Eat with joy but do not over eat!

Kindly reach out to a medical professional in case of any severe issues of food comas.

Have a happy and healthy eating!

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 20, 2017

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