Many experience fatigue after eating.
Especially after enjoying a large meal, but why do we feel tired from eating?
What are the causes of fatigue after eating
After a meal, dense in carbohydrates, you may experience reactive hypoglycaemia, which leaves you feeling fatigued after eating and may also lead to irritability, light-headedness and headaches. This is caused by a spike in your insulin production. When your body finishes digesting, your levels dramatically drop, resulting in a sugar crash.
This increases the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for moods, sleep and regulating bowel movements. Foods high in tryptophan cause spikes in insulin leaving you drowsy after meals.
This occurs during the first two hours of digestion and elevates the blood’s pH level. The process produces an alkaline which is released into the plasma of the stomach and makes the blood from the stomach more alkaline.
Allocation of resources
The theory goes that oxygen and blood are allocated to the digestive system in the same way muscles are used when working out, but this theory is not scientifically backed, but it could explain the fatigue.
Diabetes and Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue after eating. Diabetes reduces the absorption of glucose and Hypothyroidism makes the glands unable to produce sufficient thyroid hormones.
Quality of food
Consuming food will leave you tired and fatigued. In contrast, vitamin foods can boost energy levels.
Large portions of unhealthy foods can leave you sleepy. Reducing portion size and eating smaller meals frequently allows your body to digest smaller portions, which will leave you feeling less tired.
Consuming food you are allergic to can lead to fatigue, as your body battles to rid itself of the allergen, expanding energy as your immune system protects your body. Check out our allergy nurse Marlene for more information.
How to avoid excessive sleepiness after meals
Once you have sourced what is causing the sleepiness, below are some tips to avoid it.
Avoid high sugar and carbs
Those foods high in sugar and carbohydrates can leave us drowsy during digestion. Skipping these two in your lunch can help you remain alert in the afternoon.
Move around after eating
Improve digestion and the effects of Tryptophan by doing some light exercise, taking a walk, washing up or taking the stairs back to your desk.
A cup of tea or coffee will help if you are unable to do some exercise after eating. The caffeine will stimulate you keeping you feeling alert.
Taking a 20-30-minute nap after a large meal will help your digestion process the food and ward off additional drowsiness.
Keep a record of which foods and habits leave you feeling sleepy. After two weeks look back and see what foods and trends you need to avoid.
Eating a well-balanced breakfast prevents you from snacking on unhealthy foods midmorning and lunchtime.
Eat right at lunch
Avoid fast food which is full of sugar, carbs and salt that will make you feel sleepy. Opt for nutritional foods to better fuel your body and give you energy.
Eating a healthy snack can boost energy levels in the afternoon when most start to feel sluggish.
Alcohol is a sedative full of sugars and carbs, meaning it causes drowsiness quicker. During meals aim to drink water or sugar-free juices to prevent post-meal fatigue.
Ensure you drink enough fluids to remain hydrated and reduce feeling fatigued after eating.
Fatigue after eating can be due to medical conditions, large portions, poor choice, and the digestion process. While it is common it is not something that must be experienced. Try some of the above tips and feel more alert in the afternoons.