Have you ever felt like taking a nap after a big Thanksgiving meal? Most people do.
Often times we blame the turkey that we ate for that post-meal drowsiness, but is turkey really to blame for those post-Thanksgiving meal naps?
Turkey isn’t always to blame
According to Liz DeJulius, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, it’s true that turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid which tends to take the brunt of the blame, but tryptophan is found in a lot of different protein sources, not just turkey.
“You may feel a little bit more sleepy, but not so much that it’s putting the turkey to blame,” said DeJulius. “Usually it’s the combination of a little bit of tryptophan, with the high amount of foods that we’re eating and especially the excessive amount of carbohydrates.”
DeJulius said when we eat turkey, the body breaks down the protein into amino acids, and the tryptophan will actually get converted into serotonin, which will then get converted into melatonin which is the hormone that regulates our sleep.
But another culprit is a more likely source of your sleepiness – carbs.
According to DeJulius, simple carbohydrates found in stuffing, potatoes and even alcohol will all head straight to our blood sugar – and make us crash later on in the day.
Dejulius said those who are trying to avoid that post-meal ‘crash’ should try to fill half of their plate with veggies.
Don’t save room for later
Eating too much at once doesn’t help either.
DeJulius said many people will fast all day in anticipation of eating one big meal later on, but that’s not always the best plan.
“I would actually recommend the small frequent snacks throughout the day, so that you’re ‘A’ not eating as much, but also just getting a better regulation of your blood sugar for that day,” said DeJulius.