Fatigue After Eating – Causes, Treatment

Tiredness after eating

Who doesn’t know it, the leaden tiredness after a meal ? It is not without reason that it is also popularly called “feeding coma” or “midday tiredness”.

What is post-meal fatigue?

Post-meal fatigue is the leaden fatigue that overtakes us after a heavy meal, especially a heavy lunch. Apparently without explanation, we feel listless, listless, unfocused a short time after eating and would like to take a nap in the afternoon. In most cases, this form of tiredness is harmless, it is a normal bodily process associated with the digestion of the meal and is self-regulating.

Other forms of post-meal fatigue can be a food intolerance or allergy, where fatigue always occurs after foods that are not tolerated. In addition, it can be an expression of a general weakness of the digestive system or a metabolic disease .


In most cases of tiredness after eating, it is a harmless and completely normal side effect of the natural digestive process. After a meal, the body needs energy for digestion and throttles it in other areas of the body. As a result, they do not receive as much oxygen and this makes us tired. In the case of food intolerance or allergies, the cause of tiredness after eating can also lie in the food itself.

If the fatigue occurs mainly after lunch, it can be an expression of the general low performance at lunchtime, which coincides with lunch. Carbohydrate-rich meals can cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly and fall again just as quickly. That can make you tired. A general indigestion, a slow metabolism or a metabolic disease can also promote tiredness after eating.

diseases with this symptom

    • lactose intolerance

Diagnosis & course of disease

Midday fatigue, or jokingly called “eating coma,” is normal and will go away on its own after a while. If there is a suspicion that a food intolerance or allergy is behind this tiredness, it is important to identify the food or foods that are causing it so that you can avoid them in the future.

However, food intolerances and allergies are not easy to diagnose because, on the one hand, the boundaries between allergy and intolerance can be fluid and, on the other hand, the amount consumed also plays a role.

A food diary can provide initial clues about possible triggers. The significance of allergy tests and complex blood tests is disputed, which is why health insurance companies only cover them to a limited extent. So far, the most reliable and meaningful diagnostic method for food intolerances is an elimination diet, usually as part of a nutritional consultation. If an organic disease is suspected, a further physical examination is carried out to find the cause.

When should you go to the doctor?

Fatigue after eating is normal. It is usually based on digestive leukocytosis. A doctor’s visit is not necessary. Many people experience an energetic low after their lunch break – especially after eating hard-to-digest dishes or meat. The body needs energy for digestion. However, the energetic low should be overcome with a glass of cola or a cup of coffee.

It can be different if you are tired after eating for an unusually long time. People should see a doctor if they feel an unusually long lack of energy after each meal. It may not be a simple digestive leukocyte, but a disease or malfunction. This can be caused, for example, by an underactive thyroid gland or intestinal problems. If the tiredness persists after eating despite a change in diet, it is also advisable to see a doctor. Anyone who eats a lot of freshly prepared vegetables, salads and fruit and pays attention to easily digestible dishes should not be overtired after meals.

If the tiredness spreads to other times of the day after eating, there may be an exhaustion syndrome behind the feeling of increasing exhaustion. This could have been triggered by sleep apnea or sleep disorders. In the sleep laboratory, the doctor called in can clarify what the causes of the extreme tiredness are.

Treatment & Therapy

A normal midday tiredness or tiredness after a large meal does not need to be treated. A good option is to take a nap if it fits into your daily routine. At work, however, this is usually not possible. There, a walk in the fresh air to get some oxygen, or just to rest a little and take a break can help.

If fatigue occurs after meals high in carbohydrates, a more balanced diet that keeps blood sugar levels constant over a longer period of time will help. Diabetics should always have a snack with them to avoid hypoglycaemia, which is dangerous for them. In the case of food allergies, an elimination diet as part of a nutritional consultation is the best way to track down the triggers for the tiredness. However, it requires a great deal of cooperation and discipline from the patient.

This diet takes place in several steps. In the first phase, the exclusion phase, only foods that have always been well tolerated may be eaten. All foods that are contentious must be left out. In the second phase, the withdrawal phase, the body can react with withdrawal symptoms such as headaches , nausea , muscle pain and weight loss , a first indication of actual intolerance.

The withdrawal phase is followed by the test phase, in which new foods are gradually tested for their tolerance. However, the components should be tested individually, not in combination. That’s why finished products are taboo. Because of the better informative value, the test should always be carried out in the morning. When testing, it must be taken into account that reactions do not always appear immediately, but sometimes only after a few days. If a metabolic disease is present, the disease in question must be treated.


A midday slump is difficult to prevent. We are programmed by the daily routine in such a way that after a high in the morning, performance falls at midday, rises again in the afternoon and falls again in the evening. Since particularly heavy meals increase post-meal fatigue, it can help to eat less heavy meals. Many working people therefore eat lighter snacks at lunchtime and have a warm meal after work.

Anyone who eats in the canteen or does not want to go without a warm midday meal can ensure that the meal has a balanced composition. Canteens often offer several options. A little exercise in the fresh air also helps. In the case of food intolerances, it helps to take body reactions seriously and to omit foods that have repeatedly not been tolerated.

You can do that yourself

Fatigue after eating is a common symptom and usually doesn’t need treatment. It does not lead to any further complications, but can have a negative effect on the rest of the day, since the body lacks the strength for certain activities.

As a rule, tiredness after eating is mainly caused by fatty and sweet foods. The stomach has to expend a relatively large amount of energy to digest these foods. Therefore, the patient often feels tired and exhausted after eating. In most cases, the only thing that helps here is a change in diet . Greasy foods should be avoided. Fruit and vegetables and high-fiber foods are ideal . Nuts and legumes are ideal for in-between snacks, as they do not make you tired after a meal.

Coffee also helps against tiredness after a meal . This primarily stimulates digestion and blocks the nerve cells that are responsible for tiredness. Exercise and fresh air stimulate blood circulation and can thus also reduce tiredness after eating. In most cases, the tiredness after eating goes away within about an hour. It occurs more frequently in children, so that children often need a nap after a meal.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.