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For years, turkey has taken the blame for all those Thanksgiving naps. But, according to Ochsner weight loss dietitian/nutritionist Grace E. Mansfield, RD, LDN, it’s not fair to blame the turkey.
Like many foods, turkey is a source of the amino acid tryptophan, which when working with other vitamins, is converted to serotonin – a neurotransmitter that plays a role in many bodily functions including mood and sleep.
The old myth says that eating too much Thanksgiving turkey will cause us to feel sleepy, but that isn’t the case. In fact, the amount of turkey you would have to eat to induce sleep is probably not available at your family gathering.
So, what is the cause of that post-meal sleepiness? The answer is most likely the traditional over-indulgent Thanksgiving experience, which is loaded with carbohydrates – mashed potatoes, bread, stuffing and pie – and often accompanied by alcohol, then a sedentary post-meal spot on the couch.
Also, many other Thanksgiving foods are high in Tryptophan, such as:
Let’s face it, at the end of any big meal (Thanksgiving or otherwise), we all tend to feel a bit fatigued. This is because digesting large amounts of food is hard work for your body – especially large amounts of carbohydrates. Overeating causes a shift in energy, instead of using energy for activity our body is using all our energy for digestion.
You should gobble up that Thanksgiving turkey, as it’s a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also lower in calories when compared to other protein sources, until you douse it with gravy, of course. You might want to dodge a large amount of carbs, eat a little less at one sitting and try to stay active to avoid that sleepy afternoon.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with an Ochsner practitioner, call 225-761-5200 or visit www.Ochsner.org/info to schedule online.
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The Greater Baton Rouge region is home to Ochsner Medical Center - Baton Rouge, a full-service, 150-bed facility and 13 Ochsner Health Centers across Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston and Tangipahoa Parishes – including Ochsner Cancer Center – Baton Rouge. Nearly 2,000 employees serve our patients in the Greater Baton Rouge area, including more than 180 physicians and Advanced Practice Providers whose collective dedication to patient care is recognized for quality excellence by Becker’s Hospital Review, Healthgrades, Truven Health Analytics and Leapfrog. Ochsner Baton Rouge is a part of Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest non-profit healthcare delivery system. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital nationally recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and 60 countries worldwide each year. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.