With so much anticipation for Thanksgiving, it’s nearly impossible to resist cravings for your favorite holiday foods. There are so many things to focus on like parades, football games, and annual family drama, you might not realize how Thanksgiving dinner affects your body.
If you’re wondering why Thanksgiving dinner often leaves you exhausted and bloated, it doesn’t go without reason. The Calorie Control Council claims that the average American consumes over 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. That’s well over the normal daily intake which is around 2,000 calories. The average Thanksgiving consumption usually includes 229 grams of fat, which is roughly 2,000 calories consumed from fat alone. That’s the equivalent of eating nearly three sticks of butter.
Since your body has to work harder than it’s used to in order to digest all of the food, it’s no mystery why you opt for a nap after dinner. Your body goes into overdrive just to make sure all of that food gets broken down, sent to the right place, and nutrients are absorbed properly.
A common myth is that the amino acid tryptophan found in turkey is to blame for making you feel so tired. While that does hold some truth, it shouldn’t make you ditch turkey entirely.
Tryptophan can be related to producing the hormone melatonin, however there is not enough turkey even in your 4,500-calorie meal to be the sole cause of your fatigue. The overload of carbohydrates can be to blame as well. The amount of carbohydrates you consume on Thanksgiving requires an increased amount of insulin necessary to digest your food. This causes the inevitable sugar crash which makes you sleepy.
The 2,000 calories of fat you consume will also slow down digestion. Since fats are not easily digested on a regular basis, this excessive amount requires more work from your liver and pancreas. Again, this makes you feel sluggish and in need of a nap.
So this Thanksgiving, when all you’re doing is sitting on the couch, you can rest easy knowing your body is hard at work.