Did you know that the average American consumes around 3,000 calories during Thanksgiving dinner?
This doesn’t even include appetizers, drinks, and dessert, which can push that calorie count closer to 4,500-5,000.
It’s no wonder so many of us experience a “food coma” after ingesting all that food! Holiday meals tend to be loaded with sugar and high carb foods that make your energy levels plummet.
Do you know the foods that make you drowsy and foods that give you energy? In this post, we’ll examine both types so you can enjoy a more balanced diet.
Read on to learn more!
Foods That Make You Drowsy
You can probably already name a few foods that make you tired—especially junk foods. But surprisingly, even healthy foods like certain fruits can make you want to crawl into bed and take a nap.
Here’s a short list of food that makes you sleepy.
1. Processed Carbs
If you haven’t already heard enough reasons to swap processed carbs for whole grains, here’s one more.
A meal heavy on bread, pasta, and other processed carbs cause a quick spike in blood sugar, giving you a temporary energy rush. The problem? Those glucose levels “crash” just as quickly, making you want to crash too.
Swap out white bread, white rice, and regular pasta for whole-grain versions instead. These pack a better nutritional punch and are easier for your body to digest.
Bananas are high in many vitamins and minerals, including potassium and magnesium. Your body needs these nutrients to thrive, but a banana first thing in the morning might not be the best idea.
Why? These minerals work to relax your muscles, which can leave you feeling drowsy for hours.
If you love bananas, try eating one before bedtime to help you sleep more soundly.
We’re not suggesting you skip turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s wise to limit your consumption to a few ounces. That’s because turkey (and other lean meat) is packed with tryptophan, an amino acid that produces a sleepy feeling.
Tryptophan raises serotonin levels in your blood, making you want to drift off to dreamland. Turkey skin—although delicious—is loaded with fat and calories, further adding to your sleepiness.
For your Thanksgiving feast, stick to a few ounces of white meat (without the skin) to avoid the post-holiday food coma.
4. Dark Chocolate
Yes, dark chocolate has caffeine, which should help you stay awake, right?
That’s true, but it also contains serotonin—the neurotransmitter than signals your body to relax. A little nibble before bedtime might help you sleep better, but earlier in the day it might make you drowsy.
Interestingly, milk chocolate doesn’t contain serotonin. In small amounts, it might actually make you feel more awake.
The humble cherry is another superfood that contains dozens of health-boosting properties.
They’re also naturally high in melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleeping and waking cycles. A handful of cherries in the middle of the day will spike your melatonin levels, making your body think it’s time for sleep.
To enjoy the health benefits of cherries, snack on them after dinner or before bedtime. Then you’ll welcome the sleepy feeling when it hits you.
Pistachios are high in Vitamin B6, protein, and magnesium, which are all essential to good health.
The problem is that these same nutrients also relax the body, which can make you feel sleepy at an inopportune time. Like the other foods on this list, try a handful in the evening to take advantage of their sleep-inducing power.
A word of caution though: Limit your intake to no more than an ounce. Pistachios are packed with calories, so if you eat too many, it could have the opposite effect and keep you awake!
7. Sweet Potatoes
Another staple of holiday meals, sweet potatoes contain high levels of magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Combined with butter, cream, and sugar, a few spoonfuls may be all you need to drift off into a food coma.
Rather than whipping them into a sugary, calorie-packed casserole, try eating a plain baked sweet potato with your Thanksgiving meal. You could also cut them into chunks and roast them instead.
Foods That Boost Your Energy
Now that you know which foods make you sleepy, let’s look at a few that will energize you.
Avocados are full of healthy fats and B Vitamins to keep you going for hours. They also help your body absorb and store nutrients to be used as energy sources later on.
Arguably the best legume for your body, chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are full of protein and fiber. Add some to your salad or enjoy them in a hummus dip for a mid-afternoon energy boost.
Did you know that we absorb 97% of all protein found in eggs, more than any other food source? Eat them boiled, scrambled, baked, or fried for all-day energy.
4. Brown Rice
Brown rice is high in manganese, a mineral that helps your body convert carbs and protein into energy. Swap out the white rice for its healthier counterpart and you’ll feel energized for hours.
Unlike some fruits that give you a quick energy boost (followed by a crash), oranges provide a slow and steady stream of energy. Add one to your morning routine for an all-day supply of folate, potassium, and Vitamin C.
Eating Healthy Over the Holidays: Final Thoughts
The holiday season is a time for sharing good times with the people we love most. It’s only natural that delicious food is included in the festivities!
Still, you don’t have to eat yourself into a food coma from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
As you’re planning your holiday meals, refer back to this list of foods that make you drowsy. Try to limit the amount of these items and swap them out for healthier, energy-boosting foods instead.
If you do, you’ll sail through the holiday season without feeling tired—or packing on the pounds.
Would you like more easy-to-follow tips for a healthier diet? Click here for our recent post on the topic.