There are many ways to cope with stress and anxiety, but most people resort to food in such situations. With so many available options for tasty food and snacks, it is easy to become prone to overeating. However, overeating can go out of control and lead to side effects. You should understand how overeating affects your body to help you keep this unhealthy habit under control.
Also read: Why it is important to eat breakfast
What is overeating?
Overeating means that you are eating past the point of being full. It is consumption of excess food over the requirement of the body or eating additional calories than a body’s needs. It also excesses the use of energy which leads to weight gain, eating disorders and other side effects of overeating.
Causes of eating too much
If you know that overeating is bad for your health and doesn’t make you feel good after, you are probably asking yourself: “Why am I overeating?”. We will mention some most common reasons.
Irregular eating is the main cause of overeating. We do not eat food regularly on time so an unbalanced diet plan is a major cause. Emotional eating also causes overeating as not eating patently disturbs the stomach and leads to its improper work. This, furthermore, leads to many health problems.
Processed foods and drinks are a major problem of overeating. Processed foods digest quickly which leads to blood sugar level spike which makes you hungry. Skipping meals is the chief cause of overeating as restricting food can create turmoil on your blood sugar, making you more likely to overindulge. Eating impatiently and quickly is a major cause of overeating.
What happens when you eat too much?
Eating too much leads to Obesity. It is a medical condition in which extra body fat gathers to an extent that may cause a negative effect on health.
Too much eating affects our stomach. The stomach works irregularly, as a large amount of food accumulates in the stomach so it has to work extra to digest the food. It expands more than its capacity which disturbs other organs.
The stomach needs hydrochloric acid to breakdown food. As more food gather in the stomach more acid is required to breakdown food which leads to acidity and furthermore to acidity heartburn, sleeping disorders, and brain disorders.
Overeating affects the metabolism system. It also affects aging as eating an excessive amount of food increases the body fat, leads to weight gain which makes you look overage.
What happens when you overeat one day?
Humans have a huge capacity to overeat over an extended period of time. Our stomachs can normally hold around 1 to 1.5 liters of food and drink. At this point we begin to feel uncomfortably full. If you eat some more, you will start feeling some simptoms.
Here is what happens if you eat too much food in one sitting:
- Your stomach will inflate anf you will feel uneasy.
- No zeal for any activity and depresive thoughts.
- You will feel sick and maybe vomit.
- You will feel overeating pain in your stomach.
- Your blood pressure will increase.
- In worse case scenario, your stomach can burst.
Feeling sick after overeating can be eased with some tricks. Keep reading the article to find out how to ease your stomach after eating too much and what to do when you overeat and feel sick.
Side effects of overeating
There are a lot of effects of overeating on the body. Initial symptoms of overeating are nausea, increased acidity and reflux disease. Overeating may also lead to memory loss and lack of concentration. Sometimes, the skin is affected too and acne appear.
Obesity is a major symptom of overeating which leads to many other health disorders. Abnormality in the stomach is also a major overeating effect.
The stomach expands beyond its capacity to adjust a large amount of food and pushes against other organs, which makes you uncomfortable. Also, many organs behave abnormal and disturbed because of acidity produced in the stomach.
With all of this been said, here are the most common side effects of overeating that you should be wary of:
Weight gain and obesity
When you eat more than what is required by the body, it leads to a calorie surplus. This leads your body to store the excess energy and fats for later use. How much calories you consume versus how much you burn determines your daily calorie balance. If you continue to overeat, the accumulation of more and more fat in the body leads to weight gain and obesity. This is the most common side effects of overeating.
Excess calories carbohydrates and fat are prone to boosting body fat, unlike protein, which takes longer to metabolize. Therefore, lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables can help to avoid excess fat gain before eating higher-carb and higher-fat food.
Disrupt hunger regulation
There are two hormones that regulate appetite: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite and the levels of ghrelin increase when you haven’t eaten for some time. In contrast, leptin suppresses appetite, and leptin levels tell your body that it is full.
Overeating can disrupt this hormone balance. Sugary, salty, and fatty foods release hormones that make you feel good, such as dopamine. Feel-good hormones activate your brain’s pleasure centers. This causes your body to associate pleasure with certain foods, especially the foods that are high in fat and calories. Over time this will eventually override hunger regulation, and consequently encouraging you to eat out of pleasure rather than hunger. Therefore, the disruption of these hormones triggers a perpetual cycle of overeating.
Portioning out certain feel-good food and eating them at a slower pace allows your body to register its fullness, helping you counteract the effects of overeating.
Increased disease risk
Effects of overeating on the body won’t affect you if you overeat occasionally. In that case, it is not likely that it will affect your health in the long term. However, chronic overeating can lead to obesity, along with other health risks. For instance, increasing your risk of diabetes.
Obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above is the main risk factor for metabolic syndrome. This is a cluster of conditions that raises your chances of getting health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. High blood fat levels, elevated blood pressure, inflammation and insulin resistance are among the major indicators of metabolic syndrome.
Among all the other health risks, chronic overeating particularly leads to insulin resistance. This condition develops when you constantly have excess sugar in your blood, which reduces insulin’s ability to store blood sugar in your cells. In the long term, excess sugar and insulin resistance may lead to type 2 diabetes.
To reduce the risk of obesity and its related health conditions, avoid high-calorie and processed foods, increase the intake of fiber-rich vegetables and moderate carb portion sizes.
In addition, people who overeat usually eat junk food. This may lead to even more health disorders and ailments because junk food is high in fat and calorie content. It causes severe damage to the digestive system. There is also a serious spike in blood sugar and cholesterol.
Frequent overeating can cause feelings of nausea and indigestion. Having approximately the size of a clenched fist, the adult stomach can hold about 2.5 ounces when empty, though it can expand to hold around a quart. Do note that these numbers vary based on size and how much you regularly eat.
Nausea occurs when you eat a big meal, and you start to reach the upper limit of your stomach’s capacity. In severe cases, this may lead to vomiting — your body’s way of relieving acute stomach pressure. Though there are over-the-counter medications that may help treat nausea conditions, the best approach is by regulating your portion sizes and eating slowly to prevent these symptoms.
Impair brain function
Effects of overeating on the brain could raise the risk of memory loss/mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Also, obesity causes inflammation that can lead to brain damage.
Acidity produced in the stomach because of overeating can harm the ability of insulin to suppress the breakdown of fat in adipose tissue. Since the brain comprises approximately 60 percent fat, this leads to brain problems. Consuming avocados, nut butters, fatty fish, olive oil and other healthy fats may help prevent mental decline.
Continual overeating and obesity are tied by several studies to mental decline in older adults, compared to those who do not. One study found that being overweight negatively affects memory in older adults, compared with those having a normal weight. However, more studies are needed to identify the extent and mechanisms of mental decline in relation to overeating and obesity.
Excessive gas and bloating
By eating large amounts of food, your digestive system becomes strained, triggering gas and bloating.
Spicy and fatty food as well as fizzy drinks such as soda, are gas-producing food items that many of us tend to overeat. Beans and whole grains as well as certain vegetables also produce gas, but are not overeaten as often.
Furthermore, because large amounts of food rapidly enter your stomach, eating too fast may promote gas and bloating. To avoid excess gas and bloating, start by eating slowly, waiting until after meals before taking fluids and reducing portion sizes of gassy foods.
You may feel sluggish or tired when you overeat. This is caused by reactive hypoglycemia, a phenomenon where your blood sugars drop shortly after eating a big meal. Low blood sugar is commonly linked to sleepiness, sluggishness, rapid heart rate and headaches, among other symptoms. While not fully understood, it is thought to be related to excess insulin production. Although reactive hypoglycemia is most common in those with diabetes who administer too much insulin, it may also occur in some individuals as a result of overeating.
Overeating can even impact your sleep. Your circadian clock, which controls your sleep cycles, causes your sleep and hunger hormone levels to rise and fall throughout the day. Overeating can upset this rhythm, making it hard for you to sleep through the night.
Your stomach produces acid to help break down your food.
The more you eat, the higher the amount of acid enlisted to aid the breakdown. But the additional stomach acid can potentially back up into your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach). The result, heartburn, is a painful burning feeling in your chest or throat. Heartburn is more likely to happen when you’re eating foods that generally take longer to digest, like cheeseburgers and beer (especially when consumed closer to bedtime).
Low self-esteem and self-confidence
Low self-esteem and self-confidence can be a consequence of another side effect of overeating, which is obesity. Obese people are mostly mentally and emotionally affected. Depression, anxiety, and poor body image resulting from obesity are common in obese people. This often makes them avoid social gatherings.
Excessive attachment to food
By constantly eating too much, overeating becomes a part of your routine. Consequently, you develop an instable craving for eating. This leads to an obsession with eating and you will have the need to keep munching something during all times of the day. In addition, it can lead to even more problems in the aspect of socialization. Your relationship with friends, family members and relatives can be affected.
Overeating leads to the excess burden on different organs in the body. Kidneys, liver and stomach have to work over their capacity. This may lead to decreased function of organs, and by continuously overeating, in some cases, it can lead to organ malfunction.
Effects of overeating on the stomach
The basic side effect of overeating takes place on the stomach which leads to other problems. By overeating, the stomach expands beyond its capacity and disturbes other organs.
Overeating, especially unhealthy foods, can affect your digestive system. The larger amount of food you intake, the longer it takes to digest. This is because digestive enzymes are only available in limited quantities. Consequently, if you overeat frequently this slowed digestive process means the food you eat will be more likely to turn into fat.
Another side effect of overeating on the stomach is creating acidity because the stomach needs hydrochloric acid to digest the consumed food. Therefore, a large amount of food that exceeds stomach capacity requires a large amount of acid to digest the food which causes acidity.
What are the long-term side effects of overeating?
We have mentioned the possible side effects of overeating above. However, you should be aware that in the long term all of those overeating effects can lead to chronic health problems and increase the risk of cancer.
As you can see, it doesn’t lead only to excess fat and obesity. Overeating affects your whole body, it affects you physically, mentally and socially.
Some of the most common long-term effects of overeating are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Arthritis, especially in weight-bearing joints like knees and hips
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Depression or anxiety
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder having BMI >18.5 characterized by binge eating which refers to eating a large amount of food in a short period of time. It refers to vomiting because of the attempt to get rid of the consumed food, but most people with bulimia remain at a normal weight.
Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterized by frequent and recurrent binge eating episodes with associated negative psychological and social problems. This disorder is most similar to overeating, but the difference is that individuals with binge eating disorder often eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable or even painfully full. In contrast, overeating generally stops before the body gets to that point. Most of the effects of this disorder are the same as the side effects of overeating.
How to stop overeating addiction?
Eating fiber-filled foods, eating healthy food, and abstaining from processed food is an overeating treatment. Overeating habits can be reduced by proper diet planning, regular healthy food, and avoiding emotional and stressed eating.
A regular meal can reduce overeating addiction because many people cut out meals so that they decrease the number of calories, but they overeat the next time.
Here are some tips to get excessive eating under control:
- Eat sensibly throughout the day. Pay attention to your portion sizes.
- Avoid processed foods that can be easily overeaten.
- Fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables. They provide a lot of fiber and will keep you full between meals and decrease the need to snack.
- Eat from a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. This will help you control your portion size.
- Avoid distractions when you eat, such as watching TV, using the computer or other electronic devices. Focusing on the meal itself will allow you to be more aware of when you’re full.
- Eat slowly and put your fork down between bites. This mindful eating habit will slow you down and make it easier to realize when you’re full.
- Drink water before meals.
- Plan your meals ahead.
- Keep a food journal to help you notice any positive or negative habits.
What helps digestion after overeating?
Overeating tends to slow down your digestive system. This also depends on the kind of foods you ingested. As food lingers in your belly, it can start pushing itself upwards against your diaphragm. The more food you intake the more it can cause shallow breaths, heartburn, acidity, and other troublesome symptoms.
Here are some effective ways to ease your stomach after you have over-indulged:
- Drink herbal tea.
- Suck on a peppermint candy right after you eat.
- Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink up.
- Add a pinch of turmeric in hot water and lemon and then drink up.
- Along with lemon and hot water add a pinch of cayenne pepper and drink up.
- Take a walk.
Remember, if you do eat too much, be gentle with yourself not just physically, but also mentally. You have to relax and plan to incorporate healthy, nutrient-dense foods into your next meal. Also, drink a lot of fluid between the meals to speed up your digestion and metabolism.
How to treat the side effects of overeating?
Healthy lifestyle changes can help you to cope with overeating. You should regularly do health check-ups and monitor body-mass index (BMI). Also, remember to eat in moderation, avoiding junk food, give up smoking and drinking, and exercise regularly. All of this may help you to control overeating and the side effects of overeating will disappear over time.
However, if you cope with more serious side effects, we recommend you to visit your doctor for help.
Overeating is the excess consumption of food beyond the stomach capacity. This can lead to many health disorders. By eating more than our requirements, we consume a large number of calories than the required amount of our body. This is one of the major causes of health risks.
Overeating is a root cause of many severe diseases that erupt in the body. We should avoid overeating as it is the basic problem for health. We should plan our diet and eat regularly to avoid obesity, acidity, heartburn, stomach disorder, brain disorder, and many other health problems that erupt by overeating. Remember that addiction to overeating is injurious to health.
Also read: 15 carcinogenic foods that are used daily
Irena is a dentist from Croatia, working extensively in her field, but she also has a high interest in the fields of fitness, nutrition and medicine in general. She has been educating herself about how to lead a healthy lifestyle for years. She seeks to help people adopt healthy habits as well as healthy and positive thinking about life. In her spare time, she hikes, runs, plays saxophone and guitar, and develops her own websites – Salubrius Vita and GoalDigger. Her life motto is: When they expect a lot from you, you do even more.