More than any other food, turkey has a reputation of making people feel sleepy and comatose. Maybe it’s the fact that the bird is consumed in inordinate amounts during the Holidays (29 percent of turkeys consumed in the US are eaten during this time period) and that you also pair it off with various sides and alcohol. Then there’s also tryptophan, an amino acid located in proteins that impacts your serotonin levels and is associated with drowsiness.
In reality, tryptophan is not responsible for your holiday themed food comas. Popular Science reports that there’s the same amount of tryptophan in turkey than there is in chicken, lamb, and beef. The real reason why Thanksgiving and other holidays tend to lead to food comas is due to a large combination of factors, like the feeling that you’re on a vacation, long conversations with family members, and consuming large amounts of carbs and alcohol.
“Holidays mean calorie and carbohydrate-dense (starchy) foods that make the food coma almost inevitable. Food comas can be caused by both eating too much and by eating too many carbohydrate-rich foods—including potatoes, rice dishes, pastas, breads and desserts,” says dietician Isabel Smith.
Then there’s also the fact that you have to digest all that food, consuming massive amounts of energy.
According to different experts there are several things you can do in order to prevent overeating. For starters, don’t go to holiday parties starving; this may seem like a wise decision at first but it’ll only lead to overeating. Try to prioritize foods, selecting your holiday favorites without eating big portions of every side you can get your hands on.
Another good way of preventing feeling sick is filling over half of your plate with veggies, which are much easier to digest. Or you can just say to hell with it and go for that food coma. You’ll feel awful afterwards but what’s a holiday without one?