What It Really Means When You Get Cold After Eating

Our body temperature can be influenced by far more things beyond just physical activity or the weather. Food, for example, can cause our body temperature to both rise and fall, depending on what we eat.

According to Flo Health, whole grains such as rice make the body warmer due to the fact that they are more challenging to digest. Professor and food scientist at Washington State University Barry Swanson tells TIME, "Anything with a lot of complex carbohydrates and processed foods like rice and cereal products can be more warming than cooling." The same is true even for colder food items such as ice cream. Swanson explains saying, "The sheer temperature difference gives a cooling sensation, but when your body starts to digest, you feel warm because your body has to provide energy to digest that food product. Fat is notorious for moving slowly through the digestive system so it takes more energy to digest that fat."

So what's going on in our digestive tract that causes our body temperature to drop and what kinds of foods can give us a chill?

Foods with high water content can make us cooler

The answer as to why you're feeling cold after a meal may be due to blood flow. Experts at Healthy Women explain that blood is routed towards the digestive tract and away from the muscles and tissue after we eat, which results in a loss of heat. Those who exercise prior to a meal may feel particularly cold after eating, as they are undergoing a simultaneous loss of heat from both digestion and the decrease in physical activity.

Alternatively, the foods themselves may be what's causing you to reach for a blanket. Foods such as hot peppers, watermelon, and leafy greens cool the body down. Food scientist Barry Swanson explains to TIME, saying, "Most raw fruits and vegetables are 80-95% water, and anything that contains a lot of water is very easy to digest and goes through the digestive system very quickly, giving you a cooling sensation."

However, the degree to which food can decrease body temperature is quite minimal, cautions Flo Health. Therefore, major temperature shifts experienced after eating could indicate a possible health condition such as hypothyroidism, anemia, or diabetes. If you find that you're consistently feeling very cold after eating, be sure to visit with your doctor to assess for any possible underlying medical conditions.