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Why are you so hungry the morning after a big meal? (Navigating the season of over-indulgence…)

Ever found yourself ravenous the morning after a big meal? For many, the festive period is a time for indulgence – and we’re here for it!

Let’s have a look at the reasons why you may find yourself hungrier after a massive holiday meal, and what you can do about it!

Has my stomach stretched?

In short, no. You may think that your stomach stretches irreversibly the more you eat – but it’s just not true. Your stomach muscles expand and contract during digestion, a process called gastric accommodation.1https://gut.bmj.com/content/51/suppl_1/i59

Your stomach can expand up to 5 times its resting size. Research shows that eating large meals can alter your stomach’s elasticity, also known as distensibility, rather than cause irreversible stretching. So don’t worry, overeating won’t leave you with a saggy stomach!

If you’re concerned about over-eating, remember that it takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to register that it’s full.2https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/features/slow-down-you-eat-too-fast This is why it is important to eat slowly and mindfully to avoid the discomfort of overeating (click here to read more about mindful eating).

OK, so why am I hungry the morning after a big meal?

  • Spikes in blood sugar
    When you eat a big meal, particularly rich in highly-processed foods, your blood sugar rises. This causes a rise in insulin, the hormone that sends circulating blood sugar into your cells to be used as energy. This causes a subsequent energy drop, which can leave you feeling hungry again.3https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/ The bigger the meal, the bigger the blood sugar spike, the more insulin is produced, and the bigger the drop.
  • More hunger hormones are released
    Your stomach secretes the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin when it is empty to tell your brain it is time to eat. Eating suppresses your ghrelin levels. After a big meal, you may experience a more pronounced rise in ghrelin (think tummy grumbles!). Foods rich in fibre and protein take longer to digest, they slow the release of energy, which can increase satiety and help curb your hunger.

Click here for 6 easy tips on navigating over-indulgence this festive season.

and in case you missed it, click here to explore 6 reasons why you’re hungry all the time (festive season or not!).

Feel free to get in touch with our Nutritional Therapists via live chat 8am to 8pm on weekdays to have your questions answered!

References

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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