Thanksgiving Meal Science: Does Turkey Make You Tired?

When many people think of Thanksgiving, the first thing they think of is eating a lot of food and usually there is turkey involved. There are also a number of associations with the holiday, such as getting sleepy after the meal. I remember hearing lots of people talk about how eating turkey makes you sleepy, but is this really true?

This belief comes from the fact that turkey contains an ingredient called tryptophan, which can make you sleepy. However, that is far from the whole story. Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid, which are the building blocks of protein and tryptophan is just one of the many amino acids that are contained in turkey. It actually makes up only about 2% of the amino acid content in turkey. For comparison, this is similar to the amount found in many other foods, including eggs, lentils, peanuts, and pork. 

Additionally, amino acids have to compete for binding sites within the body, so when there are many amino acids present, it becomes more difficult for any one amino acid to fill all the sites, especially one that only makes up about 2% of the total. Tryptophan is most effective for making you sleepy when it is taken as individually, without other amino acids (protein) being absorbed at the same time. This doesn’t happen when eating turkey.

The science is pretty clear that getting sleepy from the tryptophan in turkey is not very likely to happen, so why do so many people associate turkey with sleepiness. This has much more to do with the Thanksgiving meal itself than it does with the turkey. The main reason for getting tired after eating a Thanksgiving meal is simply the large amount of food many people eat during the meal. 

It is not uncommon for people to eat more calories during a Thanksgiving meal than their body needs in one or two whole days. The body is not designed to handle that many calories at one time and it takes a lot of work for your body to process all that food. All the unnecessary extra calories have to be converted and stored as fat.

 For these calories to be stored as fat, your body has to release a lot of insulin into your system. Your insulin level will increase drastically at first, but when your insulin level returns to normal, your energy level crashes and you get tired. If fewer calories are consumed during the Thanksgiving meal, less insulin will be released into your system, and you will not be nearly as sleepy after the meal.

Personally, I encourage people to enjoy Thanksgiving and eat what they want, without judging themselves. However, if you are worried about your weight, there are a couple things you can do to have Thanksgiving take less of a toll on your body. For one, spread out your calories throughout the day, instead of having so many of them during one meal. This will ease the digestive burden, decrease fat storage, and make you less tired. 

Even if you don’t change your Thanksgiving eating habits at all, it’s still not that big of a deal in the long run. It’s only one day and you can absolutely recover from it, usually within a week. The more important thing is to not continue excessive overeating throughout the rest of the year. If you give yourself a pass to eat whatever your want, make a commitment to yourself to get back to your regular healthy eating habits the next day. 

It’s your daily habits more than anything that create your long-term success, so enjoy the holiday and all the wonderful food this Thanksgiving. Just don’t make it a new habit, because it takes significantly more time and effort to recover from that.

A Simple Tip to Improve Your Relationships

There are numerous things we do that can sabotage virtually any chance of having healthy long-term relationships, romantic or otherwise. One of the most common and destructive ones often happens before we even meet the other person. 

We’ve all experienced moments when we notice someone for the first time and soon feel we want to get to know them better. It could be as a friend or possibly more. There is something that happens at this moment and it affects how we see and interact with that person from then on and we may not even realize it is happening.

If we are honest with ourselves, when we are emotionally drawn to someone, it’s usually because we notice something special about them and it excites us. It could have to do with their physical appearance, a skill or talent, confidence, presence, etc. Whatever those things are, they affect us. So what do we do in response?

Typically, the excitement and whatever positive feelings we experience in response to a person cause us to only see or at least highly focus on those specific aspects of the person. Perhaps the most stereotypical example would be a man who sees a stunning woman and instantly feels desire for her. That man then only really sees her as a desirable woman and may not even be able to perceive all the other wonderful qualities she has.

So often, the next step is for the object of one person’s desire, to become viewed as just that, an object. There is a dehumanization that occurs and the primary goal becomes figuring out how to get what they want (the other person). So often people pretend to be who they think the other person wants them to be, but then any relationship starts with deception and trust is much harder to build. 

This can happen between any two people, whether there is a romantic interest or not. It happens with celebrities and famous or powerful people of all types. When one person wants to have any type of relationship with another person simply because that person has or represents something they desire, the relationship is destined to be unfulfilling.

Another big thing that causes this type of dynamic to occur is when a person wants a relationship with someone because of how the other person makes them feel. This usually happens later, after some shared experiences occur. While people don’t like to admit this, if you are in a relationship with someone simply because you feel better about yourself or your life when you are with them, you are in an unhealthy, self-centered relationship. 

Of course, healthy relationships make you feel good and enhance your life, but for different reasons. Valuing someone for who they are is very different from valuing someone for how they make you feel about yourself. Simply stated, one is healthy, the other is definitely not. 

The best relationships are ones where people consider and treat each other as equals. The foundation is built on trust, mutual appreciation, and consciously working to create a relationship that is fulfilling for both people. Open and honest communication is of course critical as well.

Unfortunately, so many relationships still function from the dynamic of two people consciously or unconsciously agreeing to use each other to get their individual needs met. The relationship works as long as both people’s needs are being met, but once one person becomes unhappy or the initial excitement of the relationship fades, things soon begin to fall apart. 

So what then is a healthier alternative?

In my opinion, it’s rather simple, although can take some time and energy to put into practice. If I simplified things to a single word, it would be curiosity. 

The next time you are drawn to someone, stop and focus on your experience. Fully acknowledge your feelings and then see if you can figure out why you are feeling what you are feeling. Can you figure out what aspects of the other person are causing you to have such a positive reaction?

If so great, if not, that’s completely fine too. The important thing is to acknowledge your feelings and then put them to the side as much as possible, so they don’t cause you to fixate on whatever attracted you to that person in the first place.

The next step is to go to a place of curiosity and look to find what other positive qualities the person has. This also helps you be able to see negative qualities, which is very important too. We all have positive and negative qualities and the goal isn’t to only see the positive and ignore the negative ones.

That leads to putting the other person on a pedestal. I won’t go into this much in this article, but putting someone on a pedestal prevents healthy relationships from being possible. It creates relationship/power imbalances and makes it impossible to see the other person for who they really are. 

You will only see your idealized version of them, which most people don’t actually desire, at least not in a healthy relationship. In a deeply connected relationship, people want their positive and negative qualities to be seen and they desire to be accepted for all of who they are, not only for their positive qualities. Putting someone on a pedestal prevents this and many other healthy things from ever happening.

Stay as much as possible in a place of curiosity about the other person, as opposed to trying to be with or claim them for yourself. Being curious and really learning about the other person allows new relationships to begin more from a place of appreciation and less from a place of coveting the person or their qualities for yourself. 

In other words, avoid having an agenda when meeting new people, especially ones you are drawn to. Keep your mind as open as possible to seeing the other person exactly as they are. See and acknowledge as much as possible so you can make the best decision about whether or not you would be a good fit for each other and what type of relationship would be in each of your best interests. 

Of course, this is an ideal and no matter how much we try, our emotions will affect our judgment and how we are able to see others. In any case, making an effort to acknowledge our emotions and not completely give into them will help you begin and develop every relationship in a healthier way.

I’m Back

I used to write a lot and create videos regularly (mostly health and fitness related), but I haven’t done much in years. Some of this is due to significant life changes/turmoil/whatever you want to call it. However, I believe some of my absence also had to do with me having so many interests and passions that I haven’t been able to figure out what to focus on or how to combine them together. Particularly the worlds of health and fitness (my primary job for most of my life) and communication and relationships (the things I spend most of my time thinking about). The reality is that these areas have very similar dynamics at their cores, yet they are different fields, so there may not be an easy or smooth way to combine them. I’m going to keep working on that though.

For now, my plan is simply to start creating and sharing a random assortment of what I have learned from my years studying and working with health, fitness, communication, relationships, connection, psychology, and really anything and everything that benefits people’s lives. Because, helping people become better versions of themselves and more engaged in life is my primary passion in the world. If there is something I feel strongly about at a particular time or I find myself passing along the same information/lessons to a number of people (which has been happening a lot lately), my goal is to write or make a video about it.

Of course, I’m constantly learning too, from those around me and my own experiences in the world. My life used to be very predictable are honestly non-eventful and boring, with every year being pretty much the same as the one before (yet life also became more painful over time). Now my life resembles the stock market with so many ups and downs it’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen next. Fortunately, the trend has generally been positive, even if there have been a number of corrections and crashes along the way.

I have probably learned as much about myself and life in general over the last five years as I had learned in my first 40 years of not really being engaged in life. I have also found many unexpected inspirations in people, particularly in recent weeks, from close friends to brief interactions with people I hadn’t previously interacted with. I think these experiences have certainly influenced my decision to start creating content again and to start sharing more of my life with others.

I already have a number of topic ideas and I know exactly what I am going to write about first, because I was thinking about it a lot this morning. It’s about relationships and meeting new people and a simple shift we can make to get so much more value out of all our relationships and interactions with others. Of course, if anyone has specific questions or topics they want me to discuss, let me know in a reply or message me directly, call, or whatever. I love discussing all this stuff and plan to do so much more in the future.