Is it a “Food Coma” or Something Else?

Poor Indoor Air QualityTips to Help You Feel Jolly After Your Holiday Feast – Is It A “Food Coma” or Something Else?

We’ve all been there…We can’t move! We feel warm, cozy and sleepy after our over-sized holiday dinner enjoyed by more family and friends than our dining room can hold! The food is delicious, the wine is going down easily thanks to fabulous company and enjoyable conversation … why is it that we feel like we would happily ditch our loved ones, and all the holiday festivities, in favor of calling dibs on the cramped space on the comfy couch next to the family dog!  All we can think of is being lulled into a dream world by the annual holiday “food coma” tradition.  Of course, we easily explain away our newfound lack of holiday cheer to the after effects of our delicious turkey….that tryptophan always gets the bad rap!  But is it truly the culprit?  Or, could something else be causing your drift into dreamland!

There’s no doubt that our over indulgence, wine consumption and yes, even the tryptophan, are playing a role here, but the air quality within your homes could also be playing a major contributing factor to our lack of “jolly”.

Air Quality 101

The most basic air quality perimeters within our homes are our carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), Relative Humidity, and Temperature levels. These indoor air quality markers (also known as our comfort levels) help us interpret our surroundings and can play a major role in how we feel within our environment.  Even a slight elevation of carbon monoxide levels in the air may be harmful to our health, while a disruption of the delicate mixture within the air we are breathing, particularly our carbon dioxide, relative humidity and temperature levels, can throw us off balance and directly impact how comfortable we feel in our surroundings.  It can also make us feel lethargic, sleepy and lacking in “jolly”. To help keep the holiday festivities joyful and alert, here are some indoor air quality tips to help bring some of your “jolly” back and pull you away from that comfy couch and back into the fun!

Gas Oven?  Make sure your properly ventilated!

If you’re using gas appliances to cook your traditional holiday feast, they could be contributing to an increase in the carbon dioxide levels within your home. An elevation of the carbon dioxide levels in an enclosed environment can make us feel sleepy, lethargic and uncomfortable (so it might not just be the tryptophan after all).  Make sure your gas appliances are accompanied with a range hood that is properly vented to the building exterior so that the presence of this invisible culprit can be directed outdoors…and not remain inside to wreak havoc on your comfort. If it’s not helping enough, open a window while cooking to let some fresh air in.

The gathering of family & friends is great, but…

So, the meals been cooked and the table served, now we have 20 of our closest friends and family all exhaling in our dining room while we eat, drink and be merry.

As we exhale, humans breathe out carbon dioxide.  When we have lots of us together in a small space, our natural tendency to breathe can cause the carbon dioxide levels to spike!  Ever wonder why, while attending meetings or conferences in small board rooms, we tend to want to fall asleep mid-way through the day?  Or, why our kids come home from school, after a full day in the classroom, feeling lackluster?  It’s because lots of people all exhaling in a small space without increased ventilation can throw our CO2 levels out of whack and make us all want to head for the comfy couch….without ever touching a turkey drumstick!  Same sort of thing applies to our family gatherings, even without the tryptophan, many people gathered together in a small space can lead to lethargy.  So…open a window and let the fresh air in!  You would be surprised how much of an impact this increased fresh air will have on your “food coma”.

Don’t over heat your guests!

Ever notice that the hotter it gets, the less energetic we get?  Nobody wants to be active and alert when we’re uncomfortable.  Aside from the carbon dioxide levels we humans produce, we also tend to give off body heat, and while we may be unaffected if were alone in a room, when there are 20 other people all giving off body heat in close proximity, our alertness and comfort levels will most certainly take a hit.  So, turn the thermostat down a few degrees before your guests arrive.  It will help provide for a more engaging and comfortable holiday feast with your family and friends.

While entertaining this year, let some fresh air in and do your part in making sure that the indoor air quality within your home is not to blame for your guests’ lack of “jolly” after dinner.  Let the over indulgence, wine, and tryptophan be responsible for the continuance of the annual holiday “food coma” tradition on its own!

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and a safe and healthy new year!


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