The Surprising Connection between Thanksgiving Food & Mood: Tips for Eating to Feel Your Best

The Surprising Connection between Thanksgiving Food & Mood: Tips for Eating to Feel Your Best

Thanksgiving brings a much needed pause from day-to-day stress to unwind, gather with friends and family, and of course- to feast. Food is an integral part of Thanksgiving traditions, from prepping the turkey to eating delicious pumpkin pie. Did you know there is an explanation for why Thanksgiving food actually makes us feel happier and why many of us end up in a food coma?  


Turkey, Melatonin, and Serotonin 

Turkey can make us drowsy, sleep, and yes, happier. Turkey is loaded with an essential amino acid, L-tryptophan, that is necessary to regulate our mood and sleep. The body breaks tryptophan down into serotonin (the “feel good” chemical) and melatonin, making us happier (and sleepier). 

Tryptophan is one of nine amino acids that the body requires but cannot produce on its own, and must be sourced from food. You can get it from other foods too, including milk, oats, nuts, and cheese.


Carbs & Calories

To be fair, it isn't just turkey that is responsible for the Thanksgiving crash. It is also partly because of the carbs found in many of the traditional foods, starting with the delicious mashed potatoes. And did you know that the average Thanksgiving dinner is 3000-4000 calories? That is nearly double the recommended daily allowance! 

Our body requires a lot of energy to digest all of the protein and carbs, which is why it slows us down. The drowsiness helps to conserve energy and allows our body to get to work while we snooze. 


Tips for Making the Most of Thanksgiving Foods 

Here are some tips to get the most out of your holiday, without the unwanted sleepiness:

  • Choose sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a superfood that are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. Opt for a serving of sweet potatoes over regular white potatoes. 
  • Enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie is the healthiest option with an estimated 280 calories per serving, compared to apple pie (411 calories) and pecan pie (500 calories).
  • Serve your veggies, first. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy veggies. This leaves less room for the other delicious high-calorie foods and ensures that you are getting a healthy serving of vitamins and nutrients. 
  • Savor every moment. Take a mindful moment to pause and take a mental picture of the things that you love most about thanksgiving. This could be pausing to truly appreciate the delicious blends of flavors in a piece of pie or expressing gratitude towards the people around you.  

  • Other Nutrients to Keep you Feeling Your Best

    While every day can’t be a Thanksgiving feast, the good news is that certain vitamins, amino acids, and probiotics can elevate our moods year-round. Bekome’s Peace of Mind daily packs have a blend of ingredients proven to reduce stress and anxiety, while enhancing gut and brain health. 93% of people in a study reported feeling better within one week. 

    Click here to learn more about this all-natural mood-boosting supplement.

    Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!


    Written by Camila Smith, LCSW



    • Consumer Reports. (n.d.). How many calories are in Thanksgiving dinner? Consumer Reports. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from,a%20variety%20of%20seasonal%20favorites. 
    • Dr. Dan JensenFollowing the completion of his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University. (2018, November 27). Thanksgiving 2018: Does Turkey make you sleepy? Sound Sleep Medical. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from