First, check to see if you are hydrated. Often dehydration can be mistaken for hunger. Is there too much on your plate? If you overload your digestive system with too much for what it can handle at any one time, it will not be able to provide adequate digestive enzymes to break it all down.
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Drink a glass of water twenty minutes before eating, however, don’t drink large amounts with meals as this will dilute your digestive enzymatic power. Eat fewer smaller meals a day and try and maintain a correct portion size. Animal protein should not generally exceed the size of a clenched fist.
2. Poor blood sugar control
Is your diet high in sugar or refined foods? If you overload your body with carbohydrates at mealtimes with insufficient protein or fat to slow down carbohydrate digestion, increased insulin will be released, which will lower blood sugar very quickly and may cause an energy slump.
Go for low glycaemic, unprocessed whole carbohydrates paired with adequate fat and protein to stop an insulin surge and a more sustained energy release to stop that postprandial dip. Ensure you add lots of carminative spices to foods such as turmeric, fennel, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom or ginger to increase absorption and improve digestion.
3. Low stomach acid…
…or hypochlorhydria has a number of different aetiologies, including stress, inappropriate antacid use, constant snacking, excess carbohydrate and alcohol consumption, H.pylori infection and nutritional deficiencies.
On the advice of a registered nutritional therapist, you could undergo functional testing and dietary review, potentially supplementing with Betaine HCl for a short period alongside other nutrients deemed to be deficient while dietary levels increase.
Stress management techniques might be useful. A bitter herb mix taken in a dropper form before meals might also be useful to stimulate stomach acid production and digestive enzyme release.
4. Insufficient bile production to digest fat
Often people complain they get tired and bloated after fried foods, or a large high-fat meal. This may be due to inadequate bile production in the liver or inadequate bile release from the gall bladder. If bile does not emulsify fat properly, this may cause digestive irritation.
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Cut out fried and refined foods in the diet. Reduce fat intake, especially saturated fats and hydrogenated oils.
Try having a glass of warm water with lemon juice about twenty minutes before meals or you could try a bowl of bitter leaves such as rocket, endive or lettuce before meals in order to stimulate bile production and release.
A bitter herb mix taken in dropper form before meals may again be useful. Again, on the advice of a registered nutritionist, you could look to supplement with digestive enzymes.
5. Food intolerance
Food intolerances can cause a wide number of reactions but one is making you sleepy after a meal. The lining of the stomach and small intestine can become irritated when an offending food is creating an antigenic reaction, which triggers increased secretion of inflammatory histamine.
Cortisol, which has an anti-inflammatory action is secreted in response which places a burden on the adrenals and may cause fatigue.
Eliminate the potential offending food or foods for 3 weeks and reintroduce individually in order to record symptoms. Alternatively, you could speak to a nutritional therapist about undergoing a food intolerance test.
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