Everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving feast side effect: snoozing
You might think that your post-turkey nap is caused by the bird itself, but this is actually just a myth. It’s true that turkey meat contains tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to produce serotonin — a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep. But so do other foods. Cheddar cheese actually has more tryptophan than turkey does, and you don’t conk out every time you eat grilled cheese (I hope).
The real culprit is the overeating. When you eat a ton of carbs (stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes all at once will do the trick), your body releases extra insulin to keep your blood sugar in check. From LiveScience: “The massive intake of carb-heavy calories stimulates the release of insulin, which in turn triggers the uptake of most amino acids from the blood into the muscles except for tryptophan.
“With other amino acids swept out of the bloodstream, tryptophan — from turkey or ham or any meat or cheese, for that matter — can better make its way to the brain to produce serotonin. Without that insulin surge, tryptophan would have to compete with all the other kinds of amino acids in the big meal as they make their way to the brain via a common chemical transport route.”
So don’t blame your basted bird: Blame all the side dishes you ate with it. And consider pausing before you dive into dessert.
Thanksgiving Day strategies to stave off weight gain
CBS News spoke with Dr. Nancy Simpkins, a board certified internist and a medical consultant for the state of New Jersey. Here are her favorite suggestions to make your Thanksgiving a little healthier:
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom to prevent people from overindulging this Thanksgiving?
A: The best way to control your eating on Thanksgiving Day is to start the day with at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise (running, walking, spinning, etc). In addition, people make the mistake of coming to the Thanksgiving table starving. This is not a good idea. One hour before the Thanksgiving get-together, have something like an apple and peanut butter to partially fill you and not allow you to overeat.
Q: What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods?
A: My favorite food is the stuffing and the Jell-O mold. I wish I could say my favorite food was the turkey but it’s the stuffing!
Q: What are some easy ways to make these foods healthier?
There are many ways to make healthier stuffing, for example using quinoa or brown rice as opposed to white bread.
Q: When feeling tempted to go back for seconds, what can someone do to stop himself?
A: Ask yourself, “How will I feel later if I overeat?” The answer most probably is tired and bloated. How to avoid this feeling? Pace yourself and eat slowly. There are always leftovers the next day!
Q: If you do end up eating the 4,500 calories many people end up eating, how much does this throw off your system?
A: So if you decide to overindulge and regret it soon after, try taking a fast-acting acid reducer. My favorite is the F.A.S.T. First Aid Shot Therapy for upset stomach, which will help prevent bloating and gas pains.
If you notice your scale is up 1 or 2 pounds the next day, get back to routine, eat healthy, and exercise, and the additional weight will fall off.
Q: How can we get back on track after eating too much on Thanksgiving?
A: Start off Friday morning with a healthy smoothie (fruits, vegetables, and almond milk or yogurt) and stick to lean protein and lots of water for the day. Make sure to exercise, as your metabolism will be raised.
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