What makes us tired on Thanksgiving? Is it the tryptophan or are we just overeating?By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Do you know the feeling?

Getting up from the Thanksgiving table and realizing immediately you may have overdone it.

The owner of Active Eating Advice, Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN says most people make a mistake long before they sit down for the celebration by not eating during the day.

“Eat regularly. So if you’re going to have Thanksgiving ‘dinner’ do eat breakfast or lunch,” she warns. “If you’re going to have a Thanksgiving meal midday, do eat a breakfast so it’s kind of think about that as your appetizer, so there’s not as much room in your stomach and then you’re not quite as hungry.”

Bonci says eliminate things you can, and do, have any other time of the year.

“Why do you have to have crackers before a Thanksgiving meal, you don’t,” she said. “If you really want to sit and enjoy that food that you’ve created or somebody else has created for you and take the time to chew it to taste it, to enjoy it, instead of stuffing so fast because then you’re not going to feel as bloated as uncomfortable when you’re done.”

How deeply do you pile it on?

Bonci says that is a major pitfall if we approach it like we’ll never eat again,

“Oh, I had to pack on five spoonfuls of stuffing and potato and everything else is,” she said. “What if I have a place where I have a little of each, and really taste it and enjoy it and then decide you want to have more than have more. Because if you put so much on there, you’re not even seeing the cranberry sauce, because it is being drowned out by the stuffing or something else on your plate. And if you sit and enjoy and you’re enjoying conversation with others or you’re watching football or whatever you’re doing, and you really take the time to eat it, you may be satisfied and guess what that means more for leftovers so with the gift that keeps on giving.”

You might also be surprised by the impact after the meal and it’s not because you got less tryptophan from the turkey.

WATCH: Tryptophan Or Too Much Food?

“People will say, ‘well if you eat something that had a lot of tryptophan it’s going to go right to your brain, and then you’re on the couch,'” she explained. “It doesn’t quite work that way because there are a lot of different amino acids, it’s not just tryptophan.”

She says those amino acids are in everything, so don’t blame just the turkey.

“It’s not just if you only select tryptophan and leave everything else behind so that really isn’t true,” she said.

Those amino acids help your body to make niacin, which makes serotonin.

“Which is the brain chemical, that makes us feel relaxed and kind of like, ‘Oh, your life is wonderful,’ but that’s not just tryptophan alone, you could never do that with just turkey because if that was the case, then, if you ate a turkey sandwich for lunch, are you ready to take a nap right after you’re done, probably not happening,” she said.

So why does the Thanksgiving feast knock you out?

Bonci says, “Let’s think about the volume of that food you’re eating a platter, not a plate. That’s why so all that blood is being diverted to your gut away from your brain and you’re ready to take a nap. So, if we downsized slightly, we probably have a little bit more energy to get through the rest of the day.”

With the Steelers playing at 8:20 Thanksgiving evening, you might want to be able to stay awake.

By the way, tryptophan doesn’t just come from turkey, it’s also in chicken, cheese, eggs, fish, peanuts, and more.