The Truth Behind the Turkey Coma

Don't blame the turkey if you're tired after Thanksgiving dinner

Don’t blame the turkey if you crash after Thanksgiving dinner


Andrea Hardy, RD of Ignite Nutrition Inc. in Calgary, says that lethargic state after a big holiday meal isn’t necessarily from the turkey. It’s more likely from overindulging in the many tempting food and drink choices we’re offered.


Why you feel tired after a big meal

It takes lots of energy to digest a huge meal, explains Hardy. Blood flow increases in the gastrointestinal tract to aid digestion and less blood flows to your brain, leaving you feeling lethargic.


Tryptophan’s real effects

Hardy says many believe the amino acid tryptophan in turkey causes the fatigue. Tryptophan can be converted into serotonin, a natural relaxant. However, you’d have to consume tryptophan on an empty stomach, with no other protein source (which limits tryptophan absorption), and in greater amounts than provided in a holiday feast.


How to prevent a food coma

To avoid food coma from a huge meal, Hardy suggests eating mindfully. “Slowing down and truly tasting the meal leads to greater satisfaction with less food, which helps avoid overeating.”