How many of us end up on the couch after a large holiday meal, feeling full and a little sleepy? Is it true that turkey is responsible for your post-meal naptime?
According to Patti Ennis, clinical nutrition program manager at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, in fact, the chemicals in turkey do make you sleepy.
“Turkey includes a chemical called tryptophan that can cause some sleepiness and sluggishness,” she says. Tryptophan is an amino acid that creates serotonin, said to be a natural relaxant that promotes sleepiness. Other foods that promote increased serotonin are bananas, chicken, milk and low-fat cheese.
Other than avoiding too many tryptophan-filled foods, Ennis suggests controlling your portions for optimal energy.
“Eating a big meal will divert the blood stream to your gut, which can cause tiredness,” she warns. “A big meal can be hard to metabolize, so make sure you give your body time before going for a second serving or dessert.”
If you’re looking to end your meal with plenty of energy left to host the family, as opposed to feeling sluggish and tired, Ennis offers this advice:
- Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
- Keep high-calorie and high-fat foods to a minimum
- Eat a salad or plate of vegetables before your main course — and add a big glass of water for good measure
- Go for a walk after you eat
Keep these tips in mind so you can enjoy the upcoming holiday festivities.