Year after year during the holiday season, people keep running their mouths about something called Tryptophan? It sounds like a club drug or the nickname for a dedicated follower of a pop-star named Trypto. It’s neither of those things.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid in our diet. If you’re like me and can barely remember High School biology, that means that our bodies cannot make it so we have to get it from food. When we consume this essential amino acid, we can produce niacin which is a B vitamin that helps us produce serotonin which helps us calm down and sleep. Tryptophan, sometimes sold in little capsules as a sleep-aid, has a natural sedative effect.
Some say that the Tryptophan in Turkey isn’t the real culprit behind rampant Thanksgiving lethargy because the amino works best on an empty stomach, something you probably won’t have. However, just because you aren’t producing calming serotonin at an accelerated rate, doesn’t mean that urge to nap after your meal isn’t real.
For whatever reason, a lot of people don’t want to pass out into a deep slumber immediately following their feast. I don’t know if there’s a big sports game on television or what, but if nap-time is out of the question, try these methods for fighting Thanksgiving’s Sandman effect:
- Eat during the day so that you aren’t ravenous and more likely to binge yourself into a “food coma” during the feast.
- Don’t chow down on turkey on an empty stomach
- Go crazy on the greens and other healthy dishes being served up
- Complex carb heavy dishes aren’t doing you any favors in the energy department, so take it easy on the bread, stuffing and potatoes. You’re body is getting exhausted digesting those in excess.
- Be conscious about cocktails. Alcohol is a depressant and will sedate you.
- Make sure you’re drinking water in addition to whatever festive beverages you’re imbibing. Staying hydrated will help with fatigue and may help you eat less.
- When it’s time for dessert, make sure you wash down pie with coffee or caffeinated tea. The caffeine will fight the tryptophan and perk you up!
- Sniff some peppermint oil, I know you can find some.
- Excuse yourself to the restroom and do a little dance in there, jump up and down a few times, doing something a little active will wake you up and get digestion going.
- While you’re in the bathroom, splash some cold water on your face and the inside of your wrists.
- Try to go for a walk after the meal.
Good luck, gang.