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Talking Tom Turkey


It’s getting close to Thanksgiving, so let’s talk turkey.

Do you have the Butterball Hotline on speed dial?

Are you going to bake, smoke, or deep fry the bird this year?

Has the canned cranberry sauce been purchased, and you’ve got plenty?

You do know how to make cornbread dressing?

If you’ve got these answers under control, then you are sitting pretty.

And speaking of sitting pretty, how do you usually feel after you’ve eaten your annual Thanksgiving meal? If you’re like most, you’re stuffed, like the bird, and ready for an afternoon nap. The much maligned Tom Turkey will be blamed for that afternoon sleepiness that slowly descends on you as you digest the holiday feast. Many will blame the heavy eyelids on the tryptophan found in turkey. Tryptophan, one of several essential amino acids, which are considered the building blocks of proteins in animals and plants, does promote good sleep and a good mood, according to research published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. But, you’d have to eat 20 servings of turkey to equal one dose of tryptophan in pill form. So, that blame game isn’t going to cut it!

So, what’s really causing that sleepiness? According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep can be affected by your overall nutrition and the foods you eat.

While it may be tempting to blame ole Tom Turkey, your celebration snooze is more than likely the result of eating other foods containing tryptophan paired with a large number of carbohydrates – dressing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, corn, several yeast rolls, sweet tea, caramel cake, and the like. Research shows that high-carbohydrate, high-fat meals lead to post-meal sleepiness, with peak fatigue happening an hour to an hour and a half after you finish eating.

The intake of high carb foods causes your blood sugar to rise rather quickly which can cause a crash producing fatigue and reduced alertness within a few short hours of eating. If you add in a moderate amount of alcohol, then you may be down for the count.

It’s also a circulation issue. A big meal can mean a change in circulation which affects your energy and focus. While more blood is needed in the stomach to digest your Thanksgiving bounty, less blood makes its way to the brain to keep you awake. You won’t be the best choice for a trivia partner.

You might also attribute your sleepiness to the fact that it starts getting darker earlier at the beginning of November. Add in melatonin, the sleep hormone that leads you towards sleepy land, and you’re punting what’s left of Thanksgiving football action for lights out earlier than normal.

So, now you know why you’re sleepy. How about some ways to keep you wide eyed during your holiday celebration.

Try these:

  • Eat more slowly.Give your body time to realize how full it is and that it doesn’t need another serving of your grandmother’s famous macaroni and cheese. The body needs about 20 minutes to realize it’s full, so take your time — you’ll eat less.
  • Take smaller portions. Being able to see your plate is a good thing. Taking less food to start your meal often means you’ll eat less by the end of it.
  • Eat healthy snacks or small meals before your holiday dinner.Starving yourself in anticipation of a delicious feast can lead to overindulgence.
  • Watch the alcohol intake.Alcohol is a temporary sedative, and its effects can be enhanced with overeating.
  • Take a walk after dinner.This will put some of those carbohydrates to work by giving you energy — and it’ll make you feel better than lounging on the couch half asleep.

So, now that you have some helpful and important information, how about some fun, interesting facts for that after-lunch trivia matchup.

  • In 1863, a proclamation by Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national “day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. In the latter half of the 1800s, Thanksgiving was frequently referred to as “turkey day,” and in 1885, Congress made the celebration a paid federal holiday for all U.S. workers.
  • Around 46 million turkeys are prepared for Thanksgiving purchases. That’s more than the entire human population of California or Spain whereas 22 million on Christmas and 19 million on Easter.
  • Most turkey fans don’t know that a male turkey is a tom or gobbler, a young male is a jake, females are hens, a young female is a jenny, and babies are a poult or chick.
  • Today, the broad-breasted white turkey is the most widely used breed of commercially-raised turkeys. They cannot fly and weigh up to 40 pounds.
  • In the larger cities, many residents in the late 1800s ate Thanksgiving dinner at a hotel restaurant. In 1876, San Bernardino residents could get a complete Thanksgiving dinner including turkey stuffed with oysters, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin, lemon, or custard pie, for 25 cents at the Arcade Hotel.
  • On Nov. 19, 1963, John F. Kennedy issued the first presidential pardon for a turkey, sparing its life and sending the 55-pound bird back to its home. The practice was carried on by subsequent presidents, and in 1989 President George H.W. Bush made the pardoning ceremony an official tradition.
  • Wild turkeys have the capacity to run 20 miles per hour when they are scared, whereas domestic turkeys that are bred are heavier and cannot run that fast.
  • The first meal of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin after walking on the Moon was a pocket that had roasted turkey.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the heaviest turkey weighed 86 lbs.
  • In the United States, Californians consume the most turkeys on Thanksgiving Day.
  • The weight of average turkey for Thanksgiving Day is around 15 pounds.
  • Turkey hens (female) are usually sold as whole birds. Toms (male) are processed into turkey sausage, turkey franks, tenderloins, cutlets, and deli meats.
  • In 2020, 5.22 billion pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States.
  • Fifty percent of all whole bird turkeys sold in the U.S. are consumed in a single day due to Thanksgiving.
  • Because of a mistake involving 260 tons of frozen turkeys, TV dinners were created in 1953, kick starting the $1.2 billion frozen dinner market.
  • Americans consume 80 million pounds of cranberries during Thanksgiving, including 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry — enough to fill nearly eight Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • Americans consume between 2,500 and 4,500 calories at the Thanksgiving table. That’s the equivalent of eating between four and eight Big Macs in a single sitting.
  • Turkey was not served at the first Thanksgiving, and the pilgrims did not use forks because they did not exist then.
  • People purchase nearly 19 million ready-made pies ahead of the holiday. Pumpkin pie is the preferred pie on the Thanksgiving table by far, regardless of which region of the US you live in. Apple is the next favorite, except in the South, where pecan pie pulls into second place. 

The Thanksgiving season is a busy one with turkey day kicking off the major food, travel, and shopping holiday of the year. But don’t forget to take a moment apart from the food and football games to find the gratitude in your Thanksgiving celebrations with family and friends. And don’t forget to defrost your turkey.

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