Talking Tom Turkey

It’s November, the last “ember” month for 2023. Really, already?

While it’s considered the last month of autumn, it’s also turkey month.

Are you going to bake, smoke, or deep fry your bird this year? Or forego and have something totally different?

Do you have the Butterball Hotline on speed dial?

Has the canned cranberry sauce been purchased, and you’ve got plenty?

You do know how to make cornbread dressing, right? It’s not stuffing.

Are you ready for Uncle Wally’s outlandish stories while Aunt Thelma rolls her eyes and shakes her head “no!”?

And the kids have been given the “what happens to children who are not well behaved” speech?

If you’ve got these answers, then you are ready to shake your very own turkey leg.

Did you get plenty to eat? Now what? If you’re like most, you’re stuffed, like the bird, and ready for an afternoon nap. The much maligned Tom Turkey and his fine-feathered friends will be blamed for that afternoon sleepiness which slowly descends on you as you digest the holiday feast. Many will blame the heavy eyelids on the tryptophan found in turkey. Tryptophan, one of several essential amino acids, does promote good sleep and a good mood, according to research published in scientific journals. But, you would have to eat 20 servings of turkey to equal one dose of tryptophan in pill form. That blame game isn’t going to cut it!

So, what’s really causing that sleepiness? According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep can be affected by your overall nutrition and the foods you eat.

While it may be tempting to blame ole Tom, your celebration snooze is more than likely the result of eating other foods containing tryptophan paired with a large number of carbohydrates – dressing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn, several yeast rolls, sweet tea, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, and the like. Research shows that high-carbohydrate, high-fat meals lead to post-meal sleepiness, with peak fatigue happening an hour to an hour and a half after you finish eating.

The intake of high carb foods causes your blood sugar to rise rather quickly which can cause a crash producing fatigue and reduced alertness within a few short hours of eating. If you add in a moderate amount of alcohol, then you may be down for the count.

It’s also a circulation issue. A big meal can mean a change in circulation which affects your energy and focus. While more blood is needed in the stomach to digest your Thanksgiving bounty, less blood makes its way to the brain to keep you awake. You won’t be the best choice for quarterback in the annual afternoon matchup of family members…more like an armchair quarterback in your recliner.

You might also attribute your sleepiness to the fact that it starts getting darker earlier at the beginning of November. Add in melatonin, the sleep hormone that leads you towards sleepy land, and you’re punting what’s left of Thanksgiving football action for lights out earlier than normal.

So, now you know why you’re sleepy. How about some ways to keep you wide eyed during your holiday celebration.

Try these:

  • Eat more slowly.Give your body time to realize how full it is and that it doesn’t need another serving of your grandmother’s famous macaroni and cheese. The body needs about 20 minutes to realize it’s full, so take your time — you’ll eat less.
  • Take smaller portions.Being able to see your plate is a good thing. Taking less food to start your meal often means you’ll eat less by the end of it.
  • Eat healthy snacks or small meals before your holiday dinner.Starving yourself in anticipation of a delicious feast can lead to overindulgence.
  • Watch the alcohol intake.Alcohol is a temporary sedative, and its effects can be enhanced with overeating.
  • Take a walk after dinner.This will put some of those carbohydrates to work by giving you energy — and it’ll make you feel better than lounging on the couch half asleep.

The Thanksgiving season is a busy one with Thanksgiving kicking off the major food, travel, and shopping holiday of the year. But don’t forget to take a moment apart from the food and football games to find the gratitude in your heart during holiday celebrations with family and friends. Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours!