The holiday season in the US begins with Thanksgiving. Turkey is the most common main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner. Indulging in turkey and napping is a holiday tradition for many following the big meal.
Turkey is often blamed for making people tired. Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is linked to sleep. But some other dishes on the Thanksgiving menu could also be blamed.
‘Turkey contains the amino acid called tryptophan, which produces sleep-inducing serotonin and melatonin.’
Dietitian Liz DeJulius says, "It's the combination of, sure a little bit of tryptophan, with the high amount of foods that we're eating and especially the excessive amount of carbohydrates."
Mashed potatoes, turkey stuffing, and other carbohydrates trigger the release of insulin, which allows more tryptophan to enter the brain and ultimately melatonin, which brings sleepiness. The third component linked to sleep after Thanksgiving dinner is alcohol.
DeJulius has one solution, "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."
Post-meal crash can be avoided by eating fewer carbohydrates, including more vegetables, and eating turkey with the gravy, which is a great source of low-fat protein.
Tryptophan is not just in turkey, it's in many protein sources, including yogurt, fish, and eggs.