When we think of food, we think of a source of energy, a way to re-fuel and power our bodies for our full day ahead. But all too often we eat, and then feel extra sluggish, or even exhausted afterward. What the heck is going on? Truth is, it might not be your fault. Some foods have a tendency to actually drain us, or give us the feelings of tiredness making for a zombie-like reality after your meals. So we’re looking at some common food culprits that may just be making you sleepy! We’re not suggesting you cut these foods completely, but perhaps just be aware of their impact on your energy levels so that you can plan accordingly!
Tart cherries, unlike their sweet sisters, are a natural source of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps you sleep. Enjoying tart cherries at the wrong time of day can seriously mess up your alertness.
Stick to the sweeter varieties of cherries that don’t seem to emulate this quality though, so just balance your day cherry enjoyment accordingly and you’ll be sleeping soundly…at the right time.
Carbs are a great source of energy, a quick jolt to get you fueled and going. But, there’s a let down to that…and that’s the plunge in your insulin levels after eating a refined carbohydrate like bread.
Another possibility if you’re experiencing tiredness after eating bread is a gluten allergy or intolerance. It’s not uncommon and can show signs in many different ways, such as a sluggish feeling not long after eating.
If you’ve ever been to a family holiday dinner where the turkey was the main protein at the dinner table, then you likely know this one to be true from first-hand experience, and no, it’s not just because you overate that you’re feeling sluggish after your holiday meal.
Turkey contains something called tryptophan which in the brain turns into a chemical that makes you tired. So you weren’t imagining it, turkey really does make you sleepy!
We’ve heard a million times before that if you’re going to eat chocolate, eat dark chocolate. It’s better for you! The small catch though, as dark chocolate contains serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that helps you relax.
Milk chocolate strangely doesn’t carry this quality, and will actually do the opposite by making you feel more awake! So next time you reach for a square of the dark creamy chocolate bar you know and love, try and do so later in the day, so you get a good night’s sleep, instead of a day of nodding off.
While fruit is sugar and means energy, when it comes to bananas it’s just a little different. Bananas are high in magnesium which is a mineral that acts as a muscle relaxant, which makes it a great before-bed snack, but can drain you during the day.
So while bananas are a perfect on the go snack, try and time eating them in moments you know you won’t have to worry about them impacting your day.
Pasta is a very common meal option. Why? It’s cheap and easy and the first thing our Mama’s taught us how to cook, so it’s like, nostalgic and stuff.
Problem with pasta is that they are a heavy carb, and with that carb-laden energy, comes a carb-induced coma not long afterward. Pasta doesn’t have to be the enemy, just try and balance it with smaller portion sizes, vegetables for fiber and some good pasta-paired proteins!
This one is shocking, to say the least. Lettuce is the base of the world’s most popular health food option – salad! As it turns out, the milky sap in lettuce contains an opium-like substance, lactucin, that can cause your body to enter a more relaxed and sleepy state.
You can easily balance this out though, simply by choosing some good fats like olive-oil dressing and some seeds and fresh fruit, along with a good protein source. Combined, this makes a full meal that allows you to maintain energy levels.
Salmon is often praised for its healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. However, that vitamin B6 that it’s so rich in, is also what your body uses to produce the sleep hormone – melatonin.
So if you’re thinking of enjoying salmon, try having it at a time that you’re ok with the after-effects of fatigue. Perhaps a nice dinner that you know is going to be followed by a restful evening.
Red meat is set apart from the rest because of it’s higher fat content which takes time and energy for your body to work to break down and digest, turning all that hard work into fatigue.
To avoid the fatigue, opt for smaller servings of red meat. Or, perhaps when ordering your next burger out, opt for one that’s made of a leaner meat such as chicken.
When it comes to oatmeal, not all choices are created equal, and your choices with your breakfast option may be the reason you’re feeling sluggish mid-morning.
Pre-packaged oatmeal is incredibly convenient, and many of us grew up on the stuff. However, they’re designed to be enjoyed with flavors that are at the end of the day, just sugar. Opt for a homemade oatmeal, and instead of sugar and syrup toppings, go for fresh fruit and nut butter which will help your protein and fiber levels keeping you more alert!
Nuts are a great healthy snack, full of proteins and good fats and easily stored in your desk at work, in your purse or anywhere else you’re on the go.
The trouble with nuts is it’s way too easy to overeat on them. They’re so small you forget how much you’re truly taking in, and before you know it, you’ve enjoyed 500 calories of far too many “good fats” and your body may begin to feel tired because it’s working so hard to digest it all. Stick with smaller servings, and you’ll get all the good stuff, with none of the exhaustion.
Yogurts are a common snack or lunch accompaniment, chalked full of probiotics (good for your gut) protein and fruit. But that’s if you’re getting the good stuff.
All too often we grab yogurts on sale or because they have a cool new flavor not even recognizing that the flavoring is often times coming from a lot of sugar. With that sugar high, comes a sugar low. So if you’re finding yourself tired after enjoying a cup of yogurt, check out the label and see if maybe sugar is behind your sleepiness.
Ever enjoyed a nice glass of red wine, only to be yawning by the time you reach your last sips? You’re not alone, and it’s most likely caused by the wine.
The seeks and skin of grapes contain melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) which explains why the juice/wine of a grape would, therefore, contribute to your sleepiness.
Coffee certainly provides us with that morning boost in energy. Many of us feel as though we can’t survive without it. But it’s also rather addictive. Your body may become reliant on it for that awareness, and without it, you will feel it impacts.
If you’re finding yourself continually tired even with coffee in hand, start considering cutting down the amount your drinking to 1-2 cups a day, and stopping any coffee intake after 3 pm (which may lead to a lack of sleep at night). While it may feel difficult at first, drink lots of water and watch your body bounce back from its consistent need for caffeine!
Sure, getting a smoothly blended icy yet fruity drink is perfect when you’re on the go. Problem is, their sugar content is likely way more than you need, and your body is going to come down from that energy spike in a hard way.
If you do opt for a fruit smoothie, try making sure there’s added greens like spinach, along with protein and fats to keep your energy levels a little more evened out.
Energy bars will give you that boost of energy that they promised – but they will also cause a crash afterward, too. Not to mention, some energy bars have as much sugar in them as a candy bar, so it’s important to pay attention to your labels.
When seeking an energy bar that will actually provide you long-lasting energy, opt for ones with easy to read ingredients or even try your hand at making them homemade, and definitely consider ones with high fiber and high protein in the nutritional value!