Does the idea of the Thanksgiving feast conjure thoughts of warm, fuzzy well-being or being stuffed and unable to waddle away from the table for a nap? With a blink of your eyes and a little understanding of balance, you can share the warmth along with a mellow feeling of relaxation.
Why? By now, most of you know that turkey is a rich source of tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin, the brain’s “feel good” chemical. Turkey, however, is not substantial enough to raise the serotonin level. It is the starchy vegetables served at this meal that increase levels, but the trick is balance at the meal to not cause a spike and drop in blood sugar levels.
When meals are too rich in sugars and starchy carbs, the pancreas releases insulin to compensate for the sugar rush. All carbohydrates turn into sugar within a short period of time, generally 15 minutes to 2 hours. In fact, all macronutrients, including fats and proteins, are broken down into glucose, the fuel that feeds the blood and organs of the body, but the proteins and fats break down much more slowly and are less often used as fuel, especially immediate fuel.
When assembling your plate of delicious food, keep these few tips in mind:
Visualize your plate ½ full of non-starchy vegetables (green beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli etc)
¼ protein (approximately 4 ounces of turkey or other lean protein); ¼ starchy carb (and this
may include cranberry sauce, stuffing, potato and sweet potato, butternut squash, the rolls
and stickie buns!)
Eat slowly and pause ½-way through your meal to determine your level of fullness
Wait 2 hours for desert and ideally complement that small piece of pie with some protein/fat,
such as some nuts, a wedge of grass-fed cheese or cashew cheese or a scoop of almond butter.
The protein/fat will slow down the insulin surge. Be creative
Get out for a walk after the meal – being in nature and moving will accomplish many things such
as facilitating digestion and reducing any emotional tension that may occur around the holidays
May you have a pleasant holiday!