Your body temperature naturally varies after eating, although this slight change in internal temperature often goes unnoticed.
Feeling cold after eating may be related to the type of food you’re eating or even your diet.
That said, extreme body chills, shivering, or constantly feeling cold after eating could also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
This article explores the main reasons why you may feel cold after eating and when to seek medical advice.
Your diet may be responsible for your body chills. Studies have indicated that both intermittent fasting and calorie restriction may leave you feeling chilly.
Very low calorie diets
Your calorie intake is a major regulator of your energy production and body temperature (
Studies show that long-term calorie restriction with adequate nutrition is associated with lower body temperature in both lean and overweight adults (
As a result of the lower calorie intake, the body compensates by lowering its temperature to save energy.
Furthermore, one study found that the more you restrict your calorie consumption, especially long term, the colder you’re likely to feel (
That said, this decrease in body temperature will likely have you feeling cold at all times, not just specifically after eating.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern in which you alternate between fasting and eating on a regular schedule.
Many intermittent fasting schedules exist. Some methods involve fasting every day for 14–16 hours with an 8–10-hour eating window, while other methods involve alternate-day fasting.
Intermittent fasting has been associated with many health benefits, but it has also been shown to increase cold sensitivity in mice lacking the sirtuin-3 (SIRT3) gene (
One potential cause is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, which can occur in a fasted state. Low blood sugar levels may make you more sensitive to feeling cold or cause cold sweats (
If you’re routinely feeling cold during intermittent fasting, this may be a sign that you need to consume more calories during your eating window.
Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting may lead to changes in your body temperature after eating. They may cause low blood sugar levels and a slower metabolism to compensate for the decreased energy intake.
Certain foods may affect your body temperature, while others may simply exert a cooling sensation.
Eating spicy food made with chilis
While eating spicy foods can provide a warming effect in your mouth, it may actually cause a slight decrease in your body temperature (
Chilis like jalapeño, habanero, and cayenne contain a chemical called capsaicin. This compound is responsible for chili peppers’ spicy kick.
When capsaicin is ingested, the brain sends a message to your body that it’s overheated.
In turn, this may cause your body to sweat. Sweat cools your body as it evaporates on your skin, lowering your internal temperature (
Nevertheless, not everyone responds to spicy food by sweating. However, if eating a chili-laden dish causes you to perspire, you may experience a cooling sensation by the end of the meal.
Peppermint tea contains a high content of the compound menthol.
Menthol increases blood flow and provides a cooling effect, although it doesn’t reduce your body temperature (
While menthol doesn’t lower body temperature, you may experience a noticeable cooling sensation upon ingesting it.
Cold foods and beverages
Cold and refreshing food and beverages are often associated with cooling you down, such as enjoying ice cream on a hot summer day.
Interestingly, eating or drinking cold foods may cause a slight decrease in your body temperature (
One study found that drinking a cold beverage caused a 0.28°C decrease in body temperature after 5 minutes, on average (11).
While this temperature change is statistically significant, a body temperature change this small likely goes unnoticed for most people.
Furthermore, the body temperature was back to normal within 20 minutes of ingesting a cold beverage (11).
Eating spicy foods, drinking peppermint tea, and consuming cold foods and beverages may lead you to experience an overall cooling sensation.
While feeling cold after eating is usually harmless, it can also be a symptom of an uncontrolled or undiagnosed medical condition.
If you suspect you may have one of the conditions listed below, you should consult your healthcare provider.
Feeling consistently cold after eating may indicate hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your body does not make enough thyroid hormones (
Low levels of thyroid hormones may cause a decrease in metabolic rate and digestive function, among other complications (
While low thyroid levels can cause various signs and symptoms, those with low thyroid levels often complain of increased cold sensitivity (
In hypothyroidism, your metabolism tends to slow, reducing the amount of heat your body produces.
While feeling cold may not solely occur after eating, low thyroid levels may leave you more sensitive to the cold after eating, as your body needs to exert energy to digest food (
Anemia occurs when you do not have enough healthy red blood cells.
Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body.
Feeling cold is a major symptom of anemia. This is a result of the lack of oxygen carried throughout your body.
People with anemia often feel cold and experience body chills at any time of day, including after eating (
Other symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeats (
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar spikes occur in people with diabetes due to either insufficient insulin production by the pancreas or the body’s inability to use insulin effectively (
If left untreated or unmanaged, diabetes can cause kidney and circulation problems that may leave you feeling cold.
Unmanaged diabetes may also result in nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy, which may make you feel cold, especially in your lower legs and feet (
However, these complications of unmanaged diabetes will likely leave you feeling cold all the time, not just specifically after eating.
Idiopathic postprandial syndrome
Experiencing body shakes and chills after eating is often a symptom of idiopathic postprandial syndrome (IPS).
IPS is a condition that refers to symptoms of low blood sugar levels that occur without evidence of low blood sugar levels (19).
People with idiopathic postprandial syndrome usually experience hypoglycemic symptoms 2–5 hours after a meal (
In addition to body shakes and chills, people with IPS may also experience clamminess, dizziness, and weakness after a meal (
The cause of IPS is unknown. However, some researchers believe that eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as refined carbs and foods high in sugar, may contribute to the syndrome.
Feeling cold at all times of the day, including after eating, may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, diabetes, or idiopathic postprandial syndrome.
A number of circumstances can cause you to feel cold after eating.
While experiencing a cooling sensation after eating certain foods is normal, body chills, shivering, and noticeable changes in body temperature could be a sign of a more serious medical condition.
However, feeling slightly cold after eating is relatively common and may simply indicate that your body is directing its energy at metabolizing and digesting the food you just ate.