Often we will hear from people who come to see us as health practitioners these sorts of questions, “Why do I feel tired after eating?”, “Why am I tired after I eat sugar?”, “Why am I sleepy after eating?” Have you ever felt like this?
All these questions are related to a similar issue and are usually related to the food that people eat. Many people have a diet that is rich in processed carbohydrates, for example, rice, bread, pasta. These foods break down into sugar and cause a rise in blood sugar.
With a rise in blood sugar, there is also a rise in the hormone insulin. This is the hormone that is required to lower blood sugar, however, in large quantities, it is causes inflammation in the body and causes harm. So the sleepiness may indicate that there are some other processes going on in the body.
What can we do about this?
For this to be corrected, you need to be able to eat in a way where the blood glucose does not “spike” and then dip. In other words, it remains constant. Vegetables, when eaten keep the blood glucose constant as they contain considerable quantities of fiber, which helps to release glucose slowly into the bloodstream. Protein and fat also cause glucose and sugar to be slowly absorbed from the bloodstream as they are emptied from the gastrointestinal tract slower than carbohydrates.
By cutting out foods that have processed carbohydrates such as sugar, lollies, soft drinks, bread, rice, pasta, pastries, and cakes, and consuming vegetables, fat, and protein, you can improve the post-lunch fatigue.
Concentrating on the less starchy vegetables, such as green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale), capsicum and other “rainbow-colored” vegetables is a good start.
Then eating proteins such as fish, chicken, beef, lamb, and eggs will not only reduce tiredness but also reduce hunger cravings.
Fats such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, butter, and coconut oil will stave off hunger and keep blood sugar constant.
So there you have it. Tiredness is a common symptom after meals, often linked to the spike and then dip of blood glucose. The trick is to maintain the blood sugar level and keep it constant, without causing it to go up and down like a yoyo, which is quite achievable when sticking to a whole food, non-processed diet.