What Causes Extreme Fatigue After Eating?

Experiencing fatigue after eating isn’t normally something to worry about, however extreme tiredness after meals may indicate a health issue – especially if you struggle with an eating disorder.

If you’re eating the right foods in the right amounts, meals should leave you energized, not drowsy, so it’s important to get to the bottom of the issue and see a doctor if post-meal fatigue is an ongoing problem.


Overeating or bingeing can easily cause fatigue, as the body utilizes all available energy stores to aid the digestion process. Eating more than your body needs can creating not only physical lethargy, but also sometimes a mental “fog.”

For people with disordered eating habits or anorexia, sometimes a normal portion of food feels stressful to the body and will cause energy levels to drop.

Food Intolerances

Another common cause of extreme fatigue after eating is food intolerances or allergies.

Common dietary “offenders,” like wheat, dairy, soy or alcohol can have a strong impact on energy levels. Since food intolerances can actually worsen cravings for things like carbohydrates and sugar, disordered eating patterns can become more problematic when an intolerance is present.

If you think your fatigue is caused by a food intolerance, try an elimination diet by cutting out certain foods one at a time until your symptoms improve.

Blood Sugar Problems

Eating disorders can also causes changes in the hormone levels that regulate your blood sugar. So the tiredness you experience after eating could be related to the body’s blood sugar roller coaster ride: where not eating causes extremely low blood sugar, eating causes it to spike and then soon after it drops very low again and you feel tired.

Since these might also be symptoms of pre-diabetes or diabetes, it’s crucial to see a medical provider if your symptoms are persistent.

How to Cope

For many people, post-meal fatigue can be avoided by eating the right foods in the right portions. Eat high-energy, nutrient-dense foods like fresh vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Also, try to keep a regular eating schedule to avoid overeating when you do sit down to have a meal.

If the fatigue won’t go away, check in with your doctor to rule out any other serious health issues.

Source: Medline Plus, Diabetes UK, Web MD

Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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