Fight the Post-Lunch Fatigue

Today, I ate lunch, and then sat down outside to do some work. With the sun shining strong for the first time in a while, I looked up, closed my eyes to soak in some vitamin D, and promptly fell asleep. What the heck? I’m not narcoleptic. I’m not hung over. I don’t have a newborn and I’m not a senior citizen. What is my excuse?? Lately, the very act of eating is making me exhausted … this does not bode well for an active and productive second half of my life!

Why does this happen? Simply put, your body wants to digest, so it not only diverts its energy to your gut, it also sends signals to your brain for you to just chill for a bit and let it do its job. The good news is, the more you allow your digestive system to relax and do its job, the more efficient it will be at processing what you just ate. Eating on the run and rushing around after meals will hinder your body’s ability to utilize the calories you just consumed, will interfere with your feeling of satiation, and will likely send more into your fat stores. The body’s thinking is if we can’t deal with this now, we’ll have to save it for later. It isn’t a bad thing to rest after a meal, but what if you simply don’t have the time?

1. Stay hydrated throughout the day, not just at mealtime. This will not only help your digestive system do what it needs to do, it will give you energy.

2. Eat fiber with every meal. Fiber does lots of great things including lowering cholesterol, supporting weight loss and helping to maintain a healthy digestive system.

3. Avoid big meals when you have something to do immediately following. If you have to be sharp for something in the afternoon, try eating something smaller at 11 and 1, rather than something big at 12.

4. Stay away from the foods and drinks that make you crash. Carbs and caffeine are the two biggest culprits. Especially if you go into lunch tired, you are prone to cave to cravings. Your body is telling you it wants a nap, and you are hearing, “Pass me a Venti cold brew with sweet cream and throw some sugar in there for good measure.” Your body needs energy, it wants a reboot. A tall glass of water, a brisk walk or a short snooze would do the trick, but sweet stimulation is what we crave. In addition to the massive amounts of empty calories, the biggest problem with this is that while we’ll get the initial high, it’s crash and burn time in an hour.

5. Sit down and eat slowly. Give your GI system adequate time and space to work its magic, and you’ll ease the stress on your whole system. As an added bonus, sitting down for every bite is a great weight to cut down on calories and lose weight if that’s something you want.

You can find lots of lists online for foods that beat fatigue, but they all boil down to the same stuff. Eat natural, non-processed foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruit, nuts, whole grains and healthy proteins. And, if you are hitting the Starbuck’s drive thru, no guilt, just sip slowly and balance out the sugar and caffeine rush with lots of the good stuff.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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