The countdown to Thanksgiving is on – the only time a year when a hearty meal takes center stage, with everything from turkey and ham, casseroles to mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie And much more.
For many, the party could be followed by a tradition of another kind: the siesta! Surely you’re not the only one feeling tired after Thanksgiving, but why is that?
Does eating turkey really make you sleepy? Or is it something else, perhaps?
According to an Orlando Health article, turkey meat contains tryptophan, an amino acid the body needs to make vitamin B3, and serotonin, a hormone that helps you relax and makes you sleepy.
However, turkey only contains 250 to 310 milligrams of tryptophan in a 3-ounce serving, slightly less than the amount found in a serving of chicken, Dr. Rodolfo Torres explained in the article. In addition to this, fish, nuts and beans also contain a “healthy dose” of amino acid. So why don’t you feel the same after eating fish or beans?
According to a separate article from John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, tryptophan can only tire a person immediately if consumed alone or taken without any amino acids. Turkey, however, probably won’t make you feel that way because it contains other amino acids.
Scientists largely believe there’s a different reason why so many people can feel tired on Thanksgiving.
Many foods in a typical Thanksgiving meal — stuffing, gravy, potatoes, green bean casserole, mac and cheese and more — are high in refined carbs. Eating these foods causes your insulin to drop, which leads to fatigue, Torres said.
Consuming such a large meal leads to increased blood flow to the stomach, which becomes necessary to help digest the meal, and as a result, less blood flows to the brain, causing a feeling of fatigue.
So, is there anything you can do to not feel excessively sleepy or eager to take a nap on Thanksgiving?
John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital suggests eating small, healthy meals before your Thanksgiving meal and not starving yourself for the holiday.
The hospital also listed the following additional advice:
- Eat small portions of foods that are part of your Thanksgiving meal (including vegetables that are on the table).
- Drink water and take breaks while you eat to see how full you are.
- Stop eating once you are full – there will always be leftovers tomorrow.
- Finally, take a walk outside to digest your meal. It will make you feel better than crashing on the couch.