Ask the Brains; January / February 2011; Scientific American Mind; by Paul Li; Kelly Tremblay; 1 Page(s)
Why do I get a slump in mental energy after eating a meal?
—Pranati Kapadia, via e-mail
Paul Li, lecturer of cognitive science at the University of California, Berkeley, offers an explanation: Falling asleep at your desk after that heaping bowl of pasta? You may be experiencing what people commonly refer to as a “food coma.” Medically known as postprandial somnolence, a food coma isn’t an actual coma but rather a lack of mental energy that people often experience after eating a large meal. Symptoms include drowsiness, lethargy and a lack of motivation. But not to worry—this postmeal phenomenon is harmless and can strike anyone who pigs out on foods loaded with carbohydrates, fats or sugars.