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Published on October 6, 2021

Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating? (And How to Avoid It)

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Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating? (And How to Avoid It)

Feeling tired after eating is very common, and it happens more often after lunchtime. Is it normal? Yes. However, feeling constantly tired after a meal could be a sign of an underlying health issue. The good news is that there are simple ways in which we can avoid that constant drowsy feeling after a meal.

So, if you’ve been asking yourself why you often feel tired after eating, you’ll discover the main reasons why this happens and effective ways to avoid it in the future.

Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating?

There are several reasons why you may feel tired after eating. But it may be concerning if it always happens and starts to affect your everyday life. Below are the main reasons why you may feel tired just after taking a meal.

1. You Eat Big Meals

If you’ve ever felt like you’re about to fall asleep after lunchtime, it’s probably because of how much you ate. The answer to this phenomenon is simple: it takes a lot of energy to digest the foods you eat. Therefore, the larger the meals, the more likely it is that you feel drowsy after eating.

2. It’s a Natural Part of the Digestion Process

Our gut takes about 2 hours to digest an entire meal.[1] Because of this, you’ll often feel drowsy after eating. This is especially true after eating lunch since we usually get back to work or continue with our duties shortly after. Besides that, the quality of food you eat also influences the amount of energy you’ll have after a meal.

3. You Eat Too Much Over-Processed Food

Foods that are high in saturated fat, simple carbs, and artificial flavors (like junk food), give you poor nutrition and instead load up your body with lots of calories. Besides the digestion process it takes, the high amounts of carbs and fats make your blood sugar unsteady, creating constant spikes. This is what causes the constant energy crashes in the afternoon time.

4. You Eat Foods That Are Rich in Protein and Carbs

Spoiler alert! You should be eating enough protein and carbs each day. Don’t think that you should eat less protein or eliminate carbs. In fact, these will help to prevent constant cravings throughout the day and keep you healthy overall. However, it is worth the mention that certain foods can cause you to feel sleepy after a meal.

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Protein-rich foods, like salmon, poultry, dairy products, soy, eggs, and seeds, have higher levels of tryptophan. You can also find it in foods rich in carbs, such as pasta, rice, white bread and crackers, and processed pastries. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin, which is the hormone that brings relaxation. Some scientists found that people feel tired after eating because their body is producing more serotonin.[2]

5. You May Be Having Blood Sugar Spikes

While it’s completely normal to have your blood sugar levels rise and fall, unhealthy sugar spikes can cause the infamous energy crash. This happens because there is a sudden high amount of sugar in your blood that forces your body to store it, leaving you with a very low sugar level that will cause you to crave more sugary foods. It’s a vicious cycle you certainly don’t want to be into.

6. You Skip Meals

Not eating enough throughout the day or even skipping meals is also a very common reason why you may feel tired after eating. Sometimes, we don’t realize how our energy levels are so low until we miss a meal.

Studies show that not eating during regular hours (AKA starving) is why you feel tired, have less energy, and have the urge to overeat during your next meal. As a result of that hungriness and your huge meal, you feel drowsy.[3]

7. You Consume Stimulants Like Caffeine

There is nothing wrong with starting your day with your favorite cup of coffee. Coffee is one of those foods that can help us stay alert during the day. But overdoing the coffee mugs can cause the opposite effect and make you feel sleepy.

Why do you feel tired after eating or taking caffeine? Simple: Too much caffeine will eventually make the energy-boosting effect wear off. This happens especially during your next coffee break in the afternoon or after lunchtime.[4]

8. You Lack Exercise

This may sound like it’s not directly related to being sleepy, but it is. When you’re not physically active, your body lacks the energy it needs to perform well and help you stay alert. That’s another reason why you should always include workouts in your weekly schedule. Not exercising will cause you to feel more tired and moody.

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9. You Have Poor Sleeping Patterns

Another reason why you may feel tired after eating is you may not be sleeping well at all. If you think of it, our body needs enough rest to perform well and keep us with enough energy. Because of this, not sleeping enough the night before will make you crave more food the next day and cause you to be sleepy around the afternoon hours.

10. You Drank Alcohol

Even though alcohol per se is not one of the main reasons why you may be tired after eating, you may want to look into your drinking patterns. What this means is that having alcohol with your meals or drinking the night before can make you feel sleepy. According to Harvard experts, alcohol is a sedative and can lower your energy.[5]

Other Health Problems

There may be other underlying health issues related to feeling tired after eating. Excess tiredness after eating could be a symptom of the following health problems:

Diabetes

Diabetic patients could struggle with feeling tired after eating due to unusual blood sugar levels. When it’s too low or too high, there could be dizziness, less energy, and increased fatigue.

Anemia

When you lack certain nutrients in your body, such as iron, folate, and vitamin B-12, you could experience symptoms of anemia. This happens when the number of red blood cells in your body is too low. One of the main signs is feeling extremely tired and dizzy.

Food Intolerance or Allergies

If you didn’t know, that extra drowsiness could be a sign of a food allergy or intolerance. Having digestive issues, such as diarrhea and vomiting, is not always a sign of allergies. Food intolerances could manifest in different ways. That’s why it’s always best to check with your local doctor and confirm any diagnosis.

Thyroid Problems

People who also have hormonal imbalance related to their thyroid show excess sleepiness or sleep disturbances. This is on top of weight loss, irregular bowel movements, and even muscle weakness. [6]

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a rare condition in which you have problems breathing while you’re sleeping. This constant sleep interruption can make you feel extra tired the next day. There are many factors why sleep apnea happens, but in most cases, it has to do with obesity and high blood pressure.[7]

Celiac Disease

Being gluten intolerant is another reason why you could be more tired than usual, especially after eating. This happens because your body has problems digesting gluten foods. Therefore, you absorb fewer nutrients and your gut is constantly irritated. One of the main symptoms of this disease is fatigue.

How to Avoid Feeling Tired After Eating

Feeling tired after every time you eat can be annoying and may sometimes even have a significant impact on your lifestyle. Below are some tips on how to avoid feeling tired after eating.

1. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is key to keep your body working well. When you hydrate your body, your metabolism is boosted and you have less fatigue and hence, you also have more energy.[8]

2. Eat More Whole Foods and Cut Back on Refined Sugars

One of your objectives is to balance your blood sugar levels. To do this, you have to make sure that you’re eating enough whole foods and less over-processed foods. Eating whole foods can lower the risk of those sugar spikes, heavy cravings, and that energy crash.[9]

3. Eat Enough Food During Each Meal to Keep You Satisfied

Practicing intuitive eating is very effective. It not only helps you stay in shape, but it also aids your digestion and boosts your energy.[10] You must eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re full. Eating too much food than what your body asks for in one sitting will only cause you to overeat and give you that sleepy sensation.

4. Avoid Starving or Skipping Meals

This is another big problem you want to avoid. When you eat at regular hours, your body will have more energy throughout the entire day. Don’t try to stand hunger because then you’ll overeat in the next meal and feel more tired than you should be.

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5. Exercise Regularly

Stay active as much as you can. You don’t have to run a marathon to stay healthy, but engaging at least in some regular basic exercises can already help raise your energy levels.

6. Get Enough Quality Sleep

Sleeping enough is key for your body at all times. Good quality sleep is at least about seven to nine hours. Try not to eat too late at night before you go to bed, turn off distractions (including your cell phone), and block off excessive light to help you develop a good sleeping habit.

7. Drink Caffeine in Moderation

If you enjoy starting your day with your favorite cup of coffee, go for it! But bear in mind that drinking about two to three cups a day should be enough to get that energy in. More than this can cause problems if you are not careful.

8. Have a Balanced Diet

Eating enough nutrient-rich foods will make your body work more efficiently and boost your energy. Aim at getting protein, healthy fiber, and healthy fats in all of your meals. Make your plate balanced and colorful.

9. Moderate Your Alcohol Intake

When you limit alcohol, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your energy levels overall. This especially applies to when you eat your meals during the day. Focus on no more than one to two glasses of wine a day. Drinking alcohol with meals can make people feel more tired.

Final Thoughts

Even though feeling tired after eating is normal, there are still some lifestyle habits you can improve to reduce this situation. If you’re feeling more tired than usual after your meals, make sure you work on quality nutrition, daily movement, proper rest, and do regular healthcare check-ups.

More Tips for Staying Energetic

Featured photo credit: Dollar Gill via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Zola Johnson

Nutritionist and Aesthetician

Why Do I Feel Tired After Eating? (And How to Avoid It)

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Last Updated on October 20, 2021

7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

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7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

If you’re trying to be as productive as possible, stress will always be your biggest obstacle—and it’s not an easy one to overcome. To do it, you’ll need to develop a plan to make stress management a core component of your daily routine, but doing that takes commitment. The good news is that if you succeed in learning how to manage stress, you’ll unlock your potential and be well on your way to peak performance. But first, you need to learn how to make it happen.

The best way to do that is to learn about and integrate some stress management rituals into your daily routine. To help you get started, here are seven tips on how to manage stress and improve your productivity.

1. Give Yourself an Extra Hour in the Morning

If you were to do some research on some of the world’s most successful—and productive—people, you’d notice that many of them have one thing in common: they tend to be early risers. Apple’s Tim Cook gets out of bed before 4 AM each day.[1] Michelle Obama is already getting in her daily workout at 4:30 AM.[2] Richard Branson gets up at 5:45 AM each day, even when he’s vacationing on his private island.

There’s a good reason why they all do it—once you reach the point in your day that your work schedule kicks in, you no longer have control of your time. That means you have a limited opportunity every morning to reduce your stress by taking care of the things you need to do without anyone making other demands on your time.

What’s important about this isn’t the time you get up. The important part is getting up early enough to start your day without feeling rushed. For most people, getting up an hour earlier than you normally would is sufficient. This should give you ample time to complete your morning tasks without having to hurry or fall behind.

But when you implement this ritual, be careful. Don’t do it at the cost of getting the right amount of sleep each night. If you do, you might increase your stress instead of relieving it. Sticking to a proper sleep schedule and getting enough sleep is, in itself, a critical part of stress management.[3]

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2. Determine and Review Your Most Important Tasks Each Day

If there’s one productivity tip that almost all experts agree on, it’s that you should spend some time before bed each night to write down your three most important tasks for the following day. But if you want to maximize that practice and turn it into a stress-buster, you should turn that notion on its head.

Instead, you should do this as a part of your morning routine. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s that our always-on, always-connected business world means your priorities can change overnight, literally. You may list your top priorities, go to sleep, and wake up to find them woefully out of date. That means the best time to set your priorities for the day is in the morning. This will keep those priorities up to date and let you think about them before the distractions of the day begin. But don’t stop there. You should take some time before bed each night to review that day’s priorities.

Ideally, you’ll be able to check them off as accomplished. If not, though, think about what prevented you from getting to them. This is your chance to figure out some of the common daily interruptions that get in your way. Chances are, these also cause some of your stress. So, spend the time before bed game-planning how to remove those interruptions and stressors from your day. If you make this a habit, you’ll be more productive and far less stressed out in no time.

3. Save Your Emails for Later in the Morning

Another tip on how to manage stress is to save your emails for later. One of the key causes of stress comes from our inability to cope with the unexpected. If you stop to think about it, what is your most prominent source of near-constant unexpected information every day? You guessed it—it’s your email.

Now, you can’t simply ignore your email. The only thing you can do about your email is to learn how to manage it most effectively. But no matter what you do, it’s going to remain a source of daily stress and distraction. That’s why you should make a habit out of giving yourself an email-free hour or two at the beginning of each day’s schedule.

In that time, try to tackle one of your daily priorities and get it taken care of. Your email will still be there when you’re done. And when you do get to it, you’ll do so in a much better frame of mind knowing that you’ve already gotten some real work done before having to deal with anything unexpected. That alone will improve your mood and reduce the amount of stress you’ll feel—no matter what’s waiting for you in your inbox.

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4. Take a Walk After Email Time

Since you’ll have to deal with your email sooner or later, there’s no way to completely avoid the stress that will come with it. Although you’ll be in a better frame of mind after putting off your email to get some real work done, you’ll still feel some stress when you get to it. That’s why you should make a post-email walk a part of your daily routine.

Taking a walk is one of the best ways you can relieve stress. It’s a form of meditation that will put you back into the right condition to be productive, and there’s no better time to do it each day than after taking care of your emails.

Ideally, you’ll want to take a walk outdoors, and preferably in the most natural setting possible. If you’re in an urban environment, a nearby park will suffice. Studies have demonstrated that walking in such environments for as little as 20 minutes per day leads to an overall reduction in the body’s cortisol level.[4]

Cortisol, if you’re not aware, is your body’s main stress hormone. It helps regulate your blood pressure, energy levels, and even your sleep cycle. Every time your stress goes up, cortisol production also increases, throwing your body into chaos. So, taking a walk right after dealing with your email will help you to relax, reset, and get ready to be productive for the rest of the day.

5. Reserve Time to Research and Plan a Vacation

By now, everybody knows that taking vacations every now and then can improve your productivity and lower your stress level. But did you know that even thinking about a vacation can help you to reduce your stress? It may sound strange, but it’s true.

A Cornell University study in 2012 found that the anticipation of a positive experience—like a vacation—can reduce stress and make you measurably happier. It logically follows, then, that adding to that anticipation each day can maximize the stress-relieving effects of a vacation.[5]

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To do it, set aside at least a half-hour each day to research or plan an upcoming vacation. You can read about destinations. You can research airfares. You can even look at places to stay in locations you’re interested in visiting. And if you’ve already got a vacation booked, use the time to take a deep dive into what your destination has to offer.

This is an especially important daily ritual to observe right now, while the COVID-19 pandemic may be limiting your vacation options. If it’s been a while since you’ve been able to take a trip, the act of planning your next vacation will have a therapeutic effect. With vacation rental bookings still hovering below 50% in most major markets, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people are in desperate need of their next stress-relieving vacation.[6]

6. Create a Shutdown Ritual to End Your Day

Another simple yet effective way to manage stress is to create a shutdown ritual. Just as it’s important to get your day off to a stress-free, unhurried start, you’ll want to do the same when the day is through. It’s because after spending each day in a reactive mode—dealing with the unexpected—you need to get back into a proactive mode to relax.

Studies have shown that having the perception of control over what you’re going through acts as a buffer against negative stress.[7] In other words, feeling like you can manage even a small chunk of your own time counteracts the stress from the parts of your day when you can’t.

This also means that your shutdown ritual can be whatever you want it to be. You might write in a journal, get in a quick light workout, or prepare your outfit for the following day. As long as you’re the one in complete control over what you’re doing, anything goes. Just make sure that you include the aforementioned review of your daily priorities somewhere in your routine!

7. Set a No-Screens Rule to End Your Day

Even though your shutdown routine is important, there’s one more ritual to include before bedtime that will help you manage stress. Spend the last 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to go to sleep observing a strict no-screens rule. Not only will this give you time to disconnect from the stresses of your day, but it will also allow your body to make a transition into a proper sleep mode.

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The screens we use—smartphones, tablets, laptops—all emit a wavelength of blue light that disrupts our sleep patterns. It’s the same type of light that our bodies recognize as daytime, so seeing it is like telling your brain that it’s the wrong time to be asleep.[8]

By eliminating all sources of this type of light before bedtime, you’ll increase your odds of getting restful, deep sleep. And since getting proper sleep is one of the best ways to manage your stress, this is the perfect way for you to end each day.

Final Thoughts

Although a totally stress-free lifestyle would lend itself to achieving maximum productivity, not many people will ever manage to live that way. So, the next best thing is to work some or all of these daily stress-busting rituals into your day to minimize the inevitable stress instead. Doing so will put you in the best possible position to succeed. And there’s no better antidote for stress than to make the most out of every day no matter what it has to throw at you.

More Tips on How to Manage Stress

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference

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