Extreme Fatigue After Eating When You Have An Eating Disorder - Here's Why

Extreme fatigue after eating is a commonly reported side effect for people who have or are recovering from an eating disorder. Repeated episodes of extreme fatigue are tremendously debilitating for people with eating disorders, limiting productivity, heightening emotional distress, and impairing concentration. If you want to know more about the causes of extreme fatigue, we’ve put together a brief guide to the four most common causes of post-meal fatigue for people with eating disorders.

1. Blood Sugar Spikes

It’s entirely possible that the post-meal fatigue spike experienced by people with eating disorders is simply an enhanced version of a conventional blood sugar spike. In some cases, eating disorders can cause lasting problems in the pancreas, a gland organ responsible for insulin production. Blood sugar spikes are caused by an abnormal buildup of glucose in the bloodstream, a buildup that usually occurs due to low insulin levels or insulin resistance. Therefore, if a person’s eating disorder has impaired insulin production, there is a high chance that blood sugar spikes are the cause of any post-meal fatigue or drowsiness.

2. Hormonal Imbalances

Certain eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can dramatically disrupt a person’s hormone production. Abnormal hormone levels or irregular hormone release can wreak havoc on the body’s ability to regulate mood, energy levels, and sleep cycles. Research also indicates that fatigue due to hormonal imbalances may be exacerbated by the body’s hormonal responses to food intake.

3. Exhaustion During Recovery

Generalized exhaustion is a side effect frequently experienced by people recovering from an eating disorder. When an individual begins reintroducing calories and eating more frequent meals, the body will typically direct the new energy resources towards repairing the physical damage caused by malnourishment or nutritional deprivation. Unfortunately, this repair process is extremely taxing on the body, causing temporary fatigue and drowsiness, especially in the hours after a meal or snack.

4. Rapid Caloric Depletion

After battling with an eating disorder, it can take several weeks for a person to work their way back up to regular eating habits. Moreover, after a long period of food deprivation, the body is much more likely to completely utilize, rather than store, the energy, and nutrients consumed during the refeeding process. This means that if you eat slightly less on the days following refeeding, your body may react as if food is restricted again, potentially causing rapid caloric depletion and post-meal nausea or fatigue.

Sources: The Mighty, Eating Disorder Hope
Photo: Pixabay

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