The question at hand has an easy answer, “turkey because it has tryptophan.” I think I’ve heard that statement said at least once every year on Thanksgiving day. But tryptophan is not the culprit!
What is tryptophan anyway? It’s an essential amino acid, which means we have to consume it in our diet because the body cannot produce it. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, but this amino acid in particular has a role in producing serotonin. Serotonin aids in mood as well as making melatonin — a hormone involved in your sleep & wake cycles. So there’s the connection, turkey to tryptophan to serotonin to melatonin to afternoon naps on Thanksgiving!
BUT, what if I told you chicken has just as much tryptophan as turkey? So why aren’t we getting sleepy every time we eat chicken too?
Because the truth is, the tryptophan in turkey is not enough to have THAT big of an effect on our sleepiness. So what’s putting all of us into the post-Thanksgiving food coma? Large serving sizes of carbohydrates, overeating, & alcohol consumption all contribute to our Thanksgiving sleepy vibes.
Here are some tips on surviving the drowsy Thanksgiving feeling:
- Listen to your hunger & fullness cues. There’s nothing wrong with having leftovers! We often continue to eat on Thanksgiving even after we feel satisfied — which leads to that “stuffed” and uncomfortable feeling.
- Add some color to your plate! Include fruits & vegetables on your plate to give you vitamins, minerals, & fiber. Balancing your plate with a variety of foods (and color) will help you avoid overeating & the drowsiness.
- Enjoy yourself! And enjoy the holiday food.
Check out Lauren’s blog on Thanksgiving dinner and more great tips on how to navigate the holiday!