Penn Medicine News Blog

November 25, 2015 // By Robert Press // Comments

Big Looks at Small Things: The Thanksgiving Day War for Your Stomach

BLAST // Diabetes // Gastrointestinal // General Interest // Nutrition


Welcome to Big Looks at Small Things (BLAST), an in-depth, medically grounded look at the small things, moments, and experiences most of us share in but never think about. Today: We’re looking at the war for your stomach.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and by now we’ve all been inundated yet again with the cautionary reports and articles telling us not to overeat during our holiday meals. It’s as traditional as the turkey itself — but overeating, like jaywalking, is one of those things many of us do despite knowing we shouldn’t.

So let’s skip that diatribe. In fact, let’s skip the main course of the meal altogether. Let’s fast forward to a minute or two after you put your dinner fork down, when you’ve eaten way, way too much and the idea of even looking at dessert is almost enough to make you a little dizzy — but just a half hour later, you’re midway through your first slice of pie and giving a hearty glance at a second.

What’s going on in those thirty minutes? What’s happening in the body that takes you from, “There’s absolutely no way I’m eating anything else tonight” all the way to, “Say, that dessert’s looking pretty good” in such short order?

The answer is simple in some ways and complicated in others, so let’s start where the action is: your stomach.

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