The Art of Eating: Embrace the Nap

Celebrating Thanksgiving Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo
Celebrating Thanksgiving Copyright: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

In the United States, Thanksgiving Day originated as an opportunity to give thanks for blessing of the harvest and to toast to a plentiful harvest the next year. Fitting with its origins, the modern Thanksgiving holiday is centered on food. Although we are grateful for this day of eating, why does it have to make us so sleepy?

L-tryptophan, commonly known as just tryptophan, is an amino acid found in many of the foods typically found at a Thanksgiving feast. You’ve probably heard one of your relatives cite it as the reason they fell asleep during the football game. Tryptophan is essential for the normal growth in infants and to balance nitrogen levels in adults. It is mostly found in proteins like turkey, chicken, dairy products and brown rice. Once the amino acid is consumed, the body converts it to 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP), which is then turned into serotonin. Serotonin is the biochemical messenger that is associated with naps.

But tryptophan can’t do it alone. Tryptophan is not an essential amino acid, and it has to compete to get to the brain. Most of the time it gets kicked out of the way by other essential amino acids also traveling to the brain. So, why does it zip up to the brain on Thanksgiving? Carbohydrates. Continue reading “The Art of Eating: Embrace the Nap”

The Pursuit of Poultry Perfection

Cooked turkey

Next Thursday, November 25th, many of us (here in the United States, at least) will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll gather with family and friends and gorge ourselves on food and drink and probably watch a football game or two. There will be loosened belts and much napping and someone will probably drink a little too much Beaujolais Nouveau. I’ll be celebrating in Arizona with my husband, dad, stepmom, grandmother, brother and future sister-in-law. I’m looking forward to the trip, for many reasons. In fact, in planning that trip and dealing with a busy schedule at work, I kind of forgot all about writing a blog post for today. Whoops. Bad blogger! Bad! So, since I’ve got Thanksgiving on the brain, I figured I’d write about the perfect way to cook a turkey.

Ahem. There is no perfect way to cook a turkey. Continue reading “The Pursuit of Poultry Perfection”