Ask the RD

by Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD on Dec 14, 2010

Food for Thought

Why do I get so sleepy after I eat? Should I be concerned about this?

Feeling sleepy after a meal could be caused by a number of things, including what, when and how much you’re eating. That sluggish feeling occurs when your blood sugar drops. Eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates can be a problem. A balanced diet keeps blood sugar levels in check, so include protein, complex carbohydrates and a little fat at meals. If you typically eat one to three large meals a day and don’t snack, spreading those calories out into smaller meals and snacks may improve your energy levels. Caffeine intake and dehydration can also contribute to fatigue. While a moderate amount of caffeine can improve alertness, an overload actually causes fatigue in some people. Finally, food intolerance could also be to blame for sleepiness after meals. To identify potentially troublesome foods or habits, write down what you eat and drink, and how you feel after eating. From there you can make adjustments to your diet, paying attention to energy levels. It’s worth exploring your eating habits further by consulting a registered dietitian. If you have persistent unexplained fatigue that you are concerned about, talk with your healthcare provider.

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About the Author

Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD

Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD IDEA Author/Presenter

You can pose your own question to our contributing editor Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and worksite wellness consultant with Presbyterian Health Plan. Please send your questions, along with your name and city/state/country, to editor Sandy Webster at