Tired over Christmas? Blame it on the turkey!

Organisers of the Margaret Joyce Memorial Dance in Reagan’s of Clonboo present a cheque for €14,224 to Galway Hospice Foundation chief executive Mary Nash (right); pictured are (from left) Martina Joyce, Tim Joyce, Pauline Molloy, Jackie Joyce, Helen McDonagh, Geraldine Joyce and Martin Joyce.
Organisers of the Margaret Joyce Memorial Dance in Reagan’s of Clonboo present a cheque for €14,224 to Galway Hospice Foundation chief executive Mary Nash (right); pictured are (from left) Martina Joyce, Tim Joyce, Pauline Molloy, Jackie Joyce, Helen McDonagh, Geraldine Joyce and Martin Joyce.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

You can picture the scene at almost every dinner table in the country – Christmas afternoon, dinner eaten, granny snoring in the armchair, the feast looking like it had been hit by a hurricane which swept through tonnes of food like fire through a wind tunnel.

You’ve spent too much, eaten too much, prepared too hard and now you have nothing but chronic fatigue and raging indigestion to look forward to until the Only Fools and Horses special at nine o’clock.

All of which begs two fairly obvious questions – why do we spend and eat so much on what is, after all, just an admittedly big dinner….and why does eating turkey make you so tired?

The former is a philosophical discussion – but the turkey issue is actually a scientific one, as explained recently by the good folk at Mental Floss, a veritable warehouse of digital information on things you might never even think of.

Apparently it has its roots in tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses in the processes of making vitamin B3 and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep.

It can’t be produced by our bodies, so we need to get it through our diet – from meats, chocolate, bananas, dairy products, eggs and more.

And right up there – although not apparently as high as cheddar cheese – comes turkey which is full of tryptophan.

It’s also the way we prepare for Christmas dinner, because tryptophan doesn’t have much of an impact unless it’s taken on an empty stomach – and don’t we starve ourselves for half the day before eating much later than normal? Hence our fatigue.

Of course, the few cans and glasses of wine – or snowballs, eggnog or Prosecco – play a part as well because a drop of drink early in the day induces sleep every time.

But let’s blame as much of it as we can on the turkey – because as well as the tryptophan levels, there’s the fat that the turkey skin is full of; and fats take a lot of energy to digest, so the body redirects blood to the digestive system. Reduced blood flow in the rest of the body means reduced energy.

Overeating is the other factor in the equation. It takes a lot of energy to digest a big feast – the average Christmas dinner contains 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat – so blood is sent to the digestive process system, leaving the brain a little tired.

And now you know why you’re tired – so here’s a couple of reasons why you’re also broke.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.