You have eaten really well. The cook hired for the wedding reception is well-known — for his pathir peni, fresh jelebi, mixed rice varieties, sweet pachadis and vadai. And the hand-cranked icecream, how can you resist it?
Burp… Soak in the glow of satisfaction. This is how that XL-sized rock python on Animal Planet feels with an unsuspecting deer inside him. What next? A round of card games? Some coffee, tea? Test drive friend's swanky BMW? Crash to sleep the meal off? Or go adventurous, boot up the music, shake a leg!
Take care, warns nutritionist Vijaya Parameswaran. “After a full meal, your body will channel maximum blood circulation to your gastro-intestinal tract, to facilitate digestion. Vigorous/Intense exercising at this time may cause your cardiovascular system (heart) to be starved of optimum blood circulation.” Translated, it means “Psy fans, curb your enthusiasm for Gangnam Style after a full meal. Not good for the heart.” And don't slide into a nap after a heavy meal, Vijaya says. “Blood sugar surges after a meal and the focus for the next few hours is to normalise it. A nap after meals increases insulin dependence to normalise blood sugar, and may precipitate insulin resistance.” High BS also means a big no to desserts and high-sugar beverages post a full meal, since these make it harder to normalise blood sugars.
People who have suffered the post-meal syndrome add to the list of don'ts. Don't drink cold water after diving into a wedding spread, they say. It freezes food fat which then builds up in the intestine, narrows the digestive ducts and leads to obesity. Eating fruits after rich food is a bad idea too. A second helping of fruit salad? Brace yourself for a bout of abdominal bloating, diarrhoea, constipation or excess stomach acid. Tea is on the “never-after-a-heavy-meal” list. Its tannic acid forms a sediment by combining with proteins, and affects absorption of both protein and iron. Smoking after a meal makes it ten times more dangerous. If you chose to wear a belt to that reception, make sure you don't slacken it now. Comfortable, yes, but it can lead to decreased pressure in the abdominal cavity, and weakened digestion.
Elders in the family have warned us against bathing after a meal — full or less. You'll get dyspepsia, they said. And there's a surprising new rule: wait for 30 minutes before cleaning your teeth after a meal. Fruits, (particularly orange or lemon juice), vinegar, sport drinks and soft drinks have a very high level of acidity and can soften the enamel of your teeth. Brushing your teeth can damage the softened enamel. Wait till saliva neutralises the acidity.
How much of the amateur advice is trustworthy? In his News Today column, cardiologist and lifestyle advisor Dr. Philip Chua clears the myths about post-meal activity. Smoking is bad, he agrees, since the absorption rate following a meal is heightened, magnifying the ill effects of tobacco (nicotine) on our system. Avoid fruits only if you have intolerance, or you're on a diabetic diet. Eat fruits, they improve digestion. Question is, can you?
Tea is high in tannic acid, but it acts like a tonic — invigorates the brain, speeds up circulation, makes digestion easier. Go for a light, sugar-free cup. And yes, do not loosen the belt. A tight belt makes you conscious you are full and helps you fight the temptation to overeat. Don't believe in the mumbo jumbo about twisted intestines. Tradition that doesn't allow us to bathe after a meal has some truth in it, he says. Taking a bath (especially a warm one) does divert blood from the stomach to the skin, but doesn't impair digestion significantly. The general rule is: after a meal, don't indulge in strenuous activities that will move energy away from the stomach, which needs “enough” blood for digestion.
And don't sleep immediately after a meal. In some people, it causes irregular heartbeat. Habitually sleeping immediately after a meal supports the tendency to gain weight. “Don't eat again for four hours or longer, it makes the stomach grow larger” is sage advice. Eating heavily and frequently distends the stomach and conditions the brain to crave for more food. This is the inevitable path to obesity and its dangerous consequences.