(Health Secrets) It happens like clockwork. An hour or so after lunch, you suddenly go from a productive employee to an unfocused, yawn-stifling mope at your desk. Energy drink manufacturers like to call it that “2:30 feeling”. But you’re not drowsy after lunch because you have a caffeine deficiency. It’s what you’re eating.
Why You’re Drowsy After Lunch
- You’re Eating Unhealthy Food
The primary reason for feeling drowsy after lunch is you’re eating unhealthy food. Fast food, microwavable meals, canned food, and the like are loaded with preservatives, simple carbohydrates, processed sugar, and refined flour that sap your energy fast. When you eat food like this, your body has to work overtime to digest and process it. And even after all that effort, your body has no nutrients to absorb. No wonder you can’t stay awake!
- You’re Eating Too Much
Even though studies have shown your metabolism peaks during lunch hour, overindulging can cause you to drag during the afternoon. This goes double if you’re eating highly-processed food. Skipping breakfast is a common reason folks eat too much at lunchtime.
- You’re Drinking Alcohol
It’s okay to have a drink or two at lunch as long as the boss doesn’t know, right? Not only could drinking on the job cost you your job (unless it’s a special occasion and he’s drinking with you), drinking alcohol in the middle of the day is an easy way to get into an afternoon slump.
- You Have an Illness
Adrenal fatigue, diabetes, and food intolerance are common causes of excessive drowsiness after lunch.
- You’re Nutrient Deficient
If you eat a lot of junk food, chances are, you have one or more nutrient deficiencies. This can leave you feeling chronically fatigued with a worsening of symptoms after lunch.
How to Avoid After-Lunch Sleepiness
- Eat Breakfast
You may think you can lose weight by skipping breakfast but the exact opposite is true. Skipping your morning meal puts your body into starvation mode, crashes your blood sugar, and encourages you to overeat when food is finally put in front of you. Keep your blood sugar and mood stable by eating breakfast before heading out the door. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A cup of Greek yogurt or a raw food bar with your morning cup of coffee or tea will give you a clear head and a full stomach to start your day.
- Eat a Small, Protein-Rich Lunch
If you want to avoid that drowsy after-lunch feeling, skip the fast food, and eat a small, protein-rich lunch. Cooked beans, hard cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, raw food bars, nuts, seeds, eggs, preservative-free lunch meat, tuna, or chicken are all healthy alternatives to the junk you find at the drive-thru.
- Don’t Rely on Energy Drinks
Caffeine can exhaust you if you drink too much of it. It’s like any other drug; you need more of it over time to get the same effect. With energy drinks, your caffeine intake is 4 times the amount you would get from a cup of coffee or tea. As soon as you make the switch, your body starts to need that extra jolt, which means your usual caffeinated beverage of choice just won’t do the trick anymore. When you try to give it up, you’ll feel jittery, shaky, and exhausted until your neurotransmitters overcome the need for excessive stimulation.
- Keep a Food Journal
If you notice you feel especially tired after some meals but not after others, it’s a good idea to keep a food journal. Note what you’ve eaten, when you’ve eaten it, and how you felt afterward. You may have one or more food intolerances or nutrient deficiencies contributing to that drowsy feeling after lunch.
- Try a Multivitamin
If you’re eating relatively healthy, small, protein-rich foods at lunchtime but still falling asleep at your desk, you may have a few nutrient deficiencies. Adding a whole-food multivitamin to your diet can help make up for these gaps and give you more energy throughout your day.
You don’t need an energy drink or three cups of coffee to get through “that 2:30 feeling”. You just need to make better food choices, eat smaller meals, and address nutrient deficiencies. Once you make these simple changes, you’ll feel be able to power through your day like a champion!