CHRISTMAS dinner is the most ambitious roast of the year – for the oven and your digestive system.
The British Dietetic Association estimates that on Christmas day alone people might consume around 6,000 calories – with dinner responsible for most of these.
Weight gain aside (because that's no fun), just think about how hard your body has to work to digest all that additional food.
Nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt, from Lifesum, explains what happens to you, hour by hour – after consuming the much-loved roast.
The first few bites of Christmas dinner are usually the best.
It's when everything is so hot you can kid yourself into thinking the turkey is less dry than it actually is, and before you feel so stuffed you can't move.
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Within an hour of that first bite we actually absorb the most nutrients from the food.
"Enzymes in our mouth start to break down some parts of the Christmas dinner before it reaches our stomach," Signe explains.
When it reaches the stomach that is where most of the fats, protein and carbohydrates get broken down into smaller molecules.
"These smaller molecules are transported to the small intestine where our body absorb the nutrients," Signe says.
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She says glucose, found in roast potatoes, stuffing and Christmas pudding gets absorbed and used as energy.
Turkey gets broken down into protein which is used for muscle repair.
And fat we get from the gravy and pigs in blankets, is used to help the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E from other foods, the expert added.
During the second hour, nutrients from the food you've just eaten are then transported through the bloodstream to their "respective tasks in the body", the nutritionist explains.
"When we’ve digested and absorbed the food, our blood sugar rises.
"If we eat more fibre, protein and fat, together with carbs, the absorption is slower compared to when eating simple sugar such as chocolates and sweets," she says.
"The Christmas dinner is now being processed either for use as energy for the cells in our body or to be stored as fat," she adds.
So, if your typical Christmas day involves going for a brisk walk after dinner, it's more likely your food will be used as energy.
Whereas, slumping on the sofa in a food-coma may mean it's stored as fat.
But, as Signe pointed out, Christmas dinner – especially pudding – is likely to make you very tired, despite giving us lots of energy.
"Christmas dinner and pudding is typically rich in sugar so it can lead to a quick rise and a sudden drop in our blood sugar levels that can make us feel even more tired.
"This is sometimes known as the Christmas dinner 3pm energy slump," she adds.
"The food that hasn't been absorbed or digested is now passing further down in the gastric tract, to the colon," Signe explains.
This food is often high in fibre, which helps push food through our body, she said.
"Fibre is great for our health as it benefits our digestion and gut flora as it feeds the good bacteria.
"A diet rich in fibre can even lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity."
Between the fourth hour to around 12 hours post meal
By this time, the food that hasn't been absorbed or used as nutrients is ready to leave the body.
"How long it takes for food to leave the body is highly individual, and can also vary depending on what type of food you at at dinner," the nutritionist explains.
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So those who of who ate lots of veg – which is very high in fibre – with your Christmas dinner, are more likely to pass your dinner quicker.
Whereas those of you those of you who steered clear of the sprouts might be left feeling a bit constipated.
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