Does Turkey Really Make You Sleepy?
Why would turkey make you sleepy?
Your body doesn’t produce tryptophan naturally so you have to get it through the food you eat.
In fact, gram for gram, even cheddar cheese contains greater amounts of tryptophan than turkey. So if the tryptophan in turkey really did cause our post-Thanksgiving drowsiness, we’d experience the same strong, lethargic sensation every time we ate chicken, beef, cheese, or nuts.
And, as we know, this obviously isn’t the case.
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But if the turkey’s tryptophan isn’t to blame for our sleepiness on Thanksgiving, what is?
Thanksgiving dinners are both heavy in the amount of food consumed and in the types of foods traditionally served.
Culprit No. 1: What you eat
“Lots of traditional Thanksgiving foods are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, which contribute to drowsiness,” he says.
Culprit No. 2: What you drink
Alcohol is another reason your eyelids may grow heavy, says Amanda Kostro Miller, RD, a licensed dietitian/nutritionist who serves on the advisory board for Fitter Living.
It’s also high in quickly digested carbohydrates and may reduce your inhibition, causing you to eat more throughout the day, she adds.
Thinking of choosing punch instead?
Culprit No. 3: How much you eat
Another factor may be the amount of food you eat at Thanksgiving, Scott says. The average festive meal contains 229 grams of fat and 3,000 to 4,500 calories, according to estimates by the Calorie Control Council.
That’s more than most men and women eat in an entire day. Digesting all that food requires a lot of energy, so the body sends more blood to your digestive system to manage the load.
This means your body has less energy for other activities, like doing the post-meal dishes, and that makes the couch look even more appealing.
How to avoid the post-Thanksgiving dinner food coma
If you swear that you feel particularly sleepy after your Thanksgiving meal, it’s true—you’re not imagining it. But don’t blame the turkey.
If you don’t want to snore on the floor after you’ve cleared your plate, cut back on the sugar, carbs, and booze.
Try not to load your plate; eat moderate portions—you can always have leftovers tomorrow, Kostro Miller says.
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