Combat a turkey coma with these Thanksgiving tips

Before digging in, make sure you understand the science behind the dreaded holiday bloat’s common misconceptions.

Man relaxing on his couch
© Minerva Studio

After gathering around the table and feasting on our favorite holiday fares while surrounded by loved ones, it’s not uncommon to feel post-meal sleepiness. Over the years, this tired feeling has been dubbed a “turkey coma,” though it turns out that a turkey’s L-tryptophan (an amino acid which forms protein) isn’t all to blame.

In fact, you start eating your way to what could be more appropriately labeled a “food coma” way before the holiday bird hits the table. While preparing the stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie or other staple sides, do you have a tendency to snack? According to the Calorie Control Center, if you do, you’re likely nibbling your way to a whopping 1,500 calories—all before you even sit down for the main course.

As your body begins to process all the carbohydrates, protein and alcohol that you consumed before being seated, it releases chemicals like serotonin that may make you feel sleepy.

The average stomach can only hold a cup or two of food, and when you overeat, your stomach is forced to expand, causing you to feel sick and bloated. Additionally, foods that are high in fiber and fat take longer to digest, meaning that all-too-familiar uncomfortable feeling will linger around longer.

The University of Michigan Health Blog, suggests taking a gentle walk to get things moving. Drinking orange juice, peppermint tea or eating rice or a banana may also help settle your stomach.

“[Drink] ginger tea after the meals to settle the stomach,” personal chef Laura Knight suggests. Knight also mentioned that taking a charcoal supplement either before the meal or at bedtime will help rid your system of any ingredients that aren’t sitting so well.

If you’re determined to beat the fabled “turkey coma” this year, your key takeaways should be this: stay away from snacks and high fiber, high fat foods, and listen to what your stomach is telling you. Holiday hosts, having the above mentioned stomach savers on hand for you and your guests may also not be a bad idea.