Dizzy After Eating

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There are many reasons why you may be dizzy after eating. While dizziness usually occurs if you've gone too long without food. things low blood sugar, low blood pressure, and certain diabetes medications can also sometimes cause dizziness after a meal.

By pinpointing the cause of dizziness after eating, you and your healthcare provider can find ways to minimize or entirely avoid future episodes.

This article explores the causes of dizziness after eating, including ways to treat and prevent them.

Woman feeling dizzy

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Why Do I Get Dizzy After Eating?

Several different conditions can lead to dizziness after eating. For some people, dizziness may be caused by a quick drop in blood pressure from standing too quickly after sitting, a condition known as orthostatic hypotension.

Some eating-related causes include a post-meal drop in blood sugar or blood pressure, the effects of certain diabetes medications, and certain food allergies or intolerances.

Low Blood Sugar

Non-diabetic hypoglycemia is a rare condition in which blood sugar levels drop in people who do not have diabetes.

Typically, blood sugar levels increase following a meal. However, when a person experiences low blood sugar two to five hours after eating, it is called reactive hypoglycemia. This is a type of non-diabetic hypoglycemia that can cause dizzy spells after consuming high-carbohydrate foods.

Symptoms of reactive hypotension include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Headache
  • Trembling or shakiness
  • Anxiety or edginess
  • Sudden sweating
  • Sudden fatigue and weakness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Hunger

People with prediabetes are more prone to reactive hypoglycemia. This is because they have trouble producing the right amount of insulin which helps regulate blood sugar.

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery can also lead to low blood sugar because it causes metabolic changes that lead to excess insulin production after eating.

Diabetes Medications

If a person does not eat enough carbohydrates after taking insulin or other diabetes medications, it can lead to low blood sugar and dizziness. The timing can sometimes be tricking given that certain foods are absorbed faster than others (such as beverages which are absorbed quicker than solids).

Symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Sudden sweating
  • Edginess or anxiety
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Hunger

Injecting too much insulin (or injecting it directly into the muscle) can also lead to hypoglycemia and dizziness after eating.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure after eating, also known as postprandial hypotension, is a condition that affects up to one-third of older adults.

Postprandial hypotension happens when a person's intestines and stomach demand extra blood for digestion, resulting in decreased blood flow to other body parts, including the brain.

It is a condition most often due to aging-related changes that interfere with the body's ability to respond quickly to sudden changes in blood pressure. A major culprit is hypertension (high blood pressure) which stiffens arteries and makes it harder for them to narrow and relax when needed.

Symptoms of postprandial hypotension can develop abruptly and cause:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sudden weakness
  • A sudden darkening or tunnel-like vision
  • Changes in hearing
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

Food Allergy

When a person with a food allergy comes in contact with a trigger food, they can experience dizziness and other symtoms within minutes to two hours of ingestion.

Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Nasal congestion
  • Rash or hives
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat
  • Wheezing and trouble breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting

When to Call 911

When a food allergy causes dizziness along with rash or hives, rapid or irregular heartbeat, wheezing, shortness of breath, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, you need to call 911 immediately. These are signs of a potentially life-threatening, whole-body allergy known as anaphylaxis.

Food Triggers

Certain foods may trigger people with specific conditions, causing dizziness after eating. For example, people with Ménières disease should avoid salty foods because salt can increase pressure in the inner ear, worsening dizziness.

Alcoholic beverages, in particular, can also be a trigger. This is because alcohol in the blood can affect the inner ear, causing a feeling like the room is spinning.

Food intolerances may also cause dizziness after eating. For example, limited evidence links lactose intolerance to lightheadedness and feelings of intoxication.

Additionally, a person sensitive to caffeine may become dizzy after drinking caffeinated beverages.

Certain foods or food ingredients may trigger migraines, which can cause dizziness. The most common food triggers reported are:

  • Red wine
  • Aspartame
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products, including cheese
  • Soy and soy products
  • Processed meat high in nitrites

How to Treat Dizziness After Eating

Treatments for dizziness after eating involve addressing the root cause.

If a person has dizziness due to low blood sugar, the immediate treatment involves eating or drinking 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrates. This is equivalent to 1/2 cup of fruit juice or six or seven hard candies.

If the reason is an allergy, antihistamines like Claritin (loratadine) or Zyrtec (cetirizine) can counter the effects of histamine which triggers allergy symptoms. Certain antihistamines like Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), and Antivert (meclizine) are specifically used to treat vertigo (spinning sensations) and nausea.

For postprandial hypotension, there is no definitive treatment. However, you can reduce symptoms by lying down until the dizziness stops.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Minor episodes of dizziness usually resolve on their own and do not require a trip to the emergency room. However, call 911 if any of the following symptoms accompany dizziness after eating:

  • Chest pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Severe headache

If you continue to experience dizziness after eating without life-threatening symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. It could be a sign of another treatable, underlying condition.

How to Diagnose the Cause of Dizziness

To diagnose the cause of dizziness after eating, your healthcare provider will start by reviewing your symptoms, medical history, and family history (such as a history of diabetes).

If dizziness occurs exclusively after eating, your healthcare provider may want to measure your blood sugar and blood pressure before and after meals to see if there are any fluctuations that might explain your symptoms. Other tests may be used if a food allergy or food intolerance is suspected.

The tests may include:

  • Mixed-meal tolerance test (MMTT): For this test, you’ll get a syrupy drink to raise your blood sugar and cause your body to make more insulin. Your healthcare provider will then check your blood sugar several times over the next five hours to see if your levels drop.
  • 24-Hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM): This involves a device strapped to your body that takes dozens of blood pressure readings over a continuous period, including when you eat.
  • Allergy skin-prick test: This test involves the insertion of a tiny amount of common food allergens under the skin. If you are allergic, a raised red bump will appear after about 15 minutes.
  • Allergy blood test: This test measures the level of a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) that is specific to a specific food or a protein within a specific food. 
  • Elimination diet: This can help identify food intolerances or sensitivities by eliminating certain foods from your diet for a period of time. They are then reintroduced one by one to see if any cause a return of symptoms.

Other tests may be used to detect specific food intolerances.


There are several techniques a person can try to reduce or prevent dizziness after eating:

  • Drink enough water before and during meals.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, or sodium.
  • Eating small meals every three hours.
  • Meals should consist of adequate portions of protein, fat, and high-quality carbs.
  • If you have diabetes, keep a close eye on your blood sugar after meals.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, rice, and sugary beverages.
  • Keep good control of blood pressure and blood sugar, in accordance with your healthcare provider's guidance.
  • Work closely with your healthcare provider to adjust blood pressure or diabetes medications.


Feeling dizzy after eating is often related to an underlying condition such as high blood pressure or prediabetes. It can also be caused by food sensitivities, stomach surgeries, or enzyme deficiencies. If you frequently feel dizzy after eating meals, it's important to let your healthcare provider know. They will be able to run tests and determine the root cause.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is dizziness after eating a sign of diabetes?

    A person who has pre-diabetes or is at risk for diabetes may experience dizziness after eating because their body is not producing the right amount of insulin, causing blood sugar to fall.

  • What causes dizziness after eating when you’re pregnant?

    Standing quickly after sitting down for an extended period can reduce blood pressure resulting in dizziness. Pregnant women who experience dizziness after eating often experience improvement after delivery.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Lindsey DeSoto, RD, LD
Lindsey Desoto is a registered dietitian with experience working with clients to improve their diet for health-related reasons. She enjoys staying up to date on the latest research and translating nutrition science into practical eating advice to help others live healthier lives.