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Why do I feel tired after eating?

WebMD Commentary
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

It can be common to feel tired after eating.

Food intolerance is one possible cause if tiredness gets worse after eating certain things. Even if you suspect this, don't remove whole groups of foods to try to self-diagnose or self-treat food intolerance, as you could end up missing out on vital nutrients and vitamins. Ask your GP about a supervised elimination diet.

In coeliac disease, your body reacts badly when you have gluten, which is a grain protein found in foods like bread, cakes and cereals. Tiredness is one symptom of coeliac disease, along with diarrhoea, abdominal pain and symptoms of anaemia such as pale skin and shortness of breath. Your GP can check for coeliac disease with a simple blood test, but you may need a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

For people with diabetes, feeling tired after a meal can be a sign of high blood sugar (glucose) levels. This could mean the insulin or medication you use wasn't able to cope with quick-acting carbs from food, or a meal may have contained too many carbs for the dosage and medication. Ask your diabetes care team for help with this.

There is some evidence our bodies are programmed to feel like a nap after a meal, much like the traditional siesta in some countries. University of Manchester research found that high blood glucose levels after eating a bigger meal can 'switch off' brain cells that should be keeping us awake.

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Reviewed on November 16, 2017

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