While it is true that tryptophan may cause drowsiness, turkey does not contain enough of it to cause the post-feast sleepiness most of us experience.
What is the culprit? The number of calories (from food/beverages) we consume. On average, Americans consume around 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day. Gobble, Gobble.
There is good news! Many of the foods we eat during this wonderful holiday feast are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are known to benefit our health and well-being.
Here are some examples:
Mmmm Stuffing/Dressing: Sage (not the smudging kind) is a typical ingredient used in stuffing/dressing recipes and is known to have wonderful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A recent study has shown that sage could positively impact cognitive skills and could protect against neurological disorders! Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318325/
What is the difference between stuffing and dressing you ask? Well, it's not where you're from that dictates what you call it but more so if you stuff the turkey with yummy goodness (stuffing) or just cook it in a dish on the side (stuffing). It's really a preference between moist stuffing or the crispy bits of dressing. I vote for both!
Good Old Green Bean Casserole: Green beans are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that are known to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes! Just one cup of green beans provides 44 calories and 16% of your daily fiber recommendation. Want to get the most out of your green bean casserole, use fresh green beans instead of canned. My favorite recipe is found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-how-tos/how-to-make-alton-brown-s-green-bean-casserole
Don't Skip the Gravy: Gravy made with stock (especially homemade stock that includes the bones and turkey giblets) can provide a deliciously rich treat full of vitamins (A, B12, and Folate), minerals (Selenium, Iron, and Zinc), and important proteins/amino acids known for their role in immune, bone, and blood health.
The Cranberry Can: Can the all mighty cranberry help fight bacteria, YES! Can the beautifully tart cranberry help boost your immune system, fight cancer, and help prevent cardiovascular disease, YES! What can’t the cranberry do should be your question. With only 46 calories per cup, this amazing Thanksgiving accompaniment can provide a much-needed health kick to those who enjoy it in a can, in a chutney, or even in stuffing/dressing!
So, you see there are some delicious and healthy foods we consume during our Thanksgiving festivities but the key is moderation! Maybe spread out those 3,000 calories to your next day leftovers (YUM).
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!
Ashley Tracey, MS RYT