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Food and Fatigue: When Eating Makes You Tired

Published date: December 21, 2013 | Modified date:
by Dr Stephen Wangen
(photo: commons.wikimedia)
(photo: commons.wikimedia)

Does eating cause you to feel sleepy afterwards? How about after lunch? Would you like to be able to avoid this?

This is a problem that I commonly hear from my patients. If it happens to you it might seem normal. You may think that your body is just spending a lot of energy digesting your food. But this doesn’t happen to everyone.

Food should give you energy, not make you tired. Eating a reasonably sized meal should not cause your body or your mind to shut down, making you feel like it is time for a siesta.

How can eating cause fatigue?

Sugar commonly causes fatigue. The energy boost from sugar only lasts for a short time, often followed by a “crash.”

But there are many other causes of this problem, often referred to as hypoglycemia.

One of the primary causes of fatigue is eating food to which you are allergic. In fact, this is one of the most common symptoms of a food allergy and may be your only symptom. A food allergy can be causing your fatigue whether or not you have any digestive problems, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

If you have a food allergy, then every time you eat the offending food you are introducing something foreign into your body. This results in your immune system attacking your food, which is the equivalent of being sick. Your immune system is expending a great deal of energy trying to remove this “invader” and you suffer the consequence, in this case fatigue.

Mental fatigue

An interesting component of this is often a sense of mental fatigue. Many people complain of a mental fog or lack of clarity in their thinking.

Interestingly, after they discover that they have a food allergy and remove it from their diet, this often improves. It is frequently described as “a cloud” being lifted from their head.

People with physical and/or mental fatigue often feel hypoglycemic. They may feel a need to eat frequent meals or snacks in order to keep up their energy.

This is because the food that they eat is causing as many problems as it solves. They are not getting the same amount of nourishment out of the food as someone who is not allergic to it would.

Therefore they have to eat more frequently.

How do you know if you have a food allergy?

When you are allergic to a food, your immune system forms antibodies against that food. These antibodies can be measured via a blood test. If you suffer from fatigue or a lack of mental clarity, please do yourself a favor and find out if you have a food allergy. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make in your life. Contact the office of the IBS Treatment Center with questions.

(photo: creative commons)