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Tired After Eating
by Barbara Light
Six months ago I changed to a vegan diet, and since that time I have found my taste buds are more alive and open to new flavors and I feel wonderful. The silly aches and pains I get now are from too much time spent at my computer.
I have noticed, however, that I sometimes get tired after eating. I thought at first it was from overdoing the carbohydrates like pasta, bread, but now I'm questioning if soy is the culprit, as it's high in tryptophan. I don't overindulge in soy but nonetheless I've noticed a pattern.
I try to alternate with tempeh and seitan when I want a meat substitute but do you recommend any other solutions or advice?
First of all, congratulations on changing your lifestyle! I'm so glad to hear that you're feeling better and enjoying all the amazing food that is vegan.
You are right that simple carbohydrates can have a taxing effect on your body and will cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop rapidly. At the bottom of that roller coaster, you'll get very drowsy, and you might start to feel cravings for sugar- your body is acting like a drug dealer and trying to convince you to go back for another high to fix the feeling of that low.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, will not have that same drastic spike and fall, and you will feel much more energetic after eating them. If you eat bread at lunchtime, make sure it is completely whole grain. If anything on the label is flour without the word "whole" in front of it, avoid it. If you're at a sandwich shop or somewhere where you can't read the ingredients label, opt for no bread at all. Think of packing cooked whole grains like quinoa, millet, and barley.
You should also make sure you are eating plenty of plant protein with your meals. I personally feel best when I don't try to use meat substitutes, but whole beans instead, and I rarely eat soy products. There are just so many benefits of the different varieties of beans, and so many different ways to flavor and cook them, so we only rarely eat tempeh or tofu. One half cup of beans will serve as a proper serving, and combined with the whole grains you get all the amino acids you need. Vegetables and fruits fill you up with nutrients without making you feel drowsy afterwards.
A few tips to prevent feeling tired after eating:
- Chew slowly and deliberately. When you give yourself time to fully chew each piece of food, your body can digest it easier and faster, which in turn gives you more energy.
- I've been reading a lot about Eastern views on the qi throughout our bodies, and sometimes when there is a deficiency or excess in one part of our body, we can start to feel symptoms in different parts. If you often get tired after eating, there might be an easy way for someone educated in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture to help restore your body's natural balance.
- Although it seems counterintuitive, if you're engaging in even moderate exercise on a daily basis, you will actually feel less tired after eating than if you don't exercise. Even a few 15 minute walks every day will help you feel healthy and energized.
- And the obvious... are you making sure to get plenty of sleep? If your schedule has changed at all and even if you are getting 30 minutes less sleep than usual, it can have an impact on how tired you feel during the day.
Hope that helps!