January 05, 2021
Overeating and Drinking: The Toll it Takes on the Body
Indulging in an extra portion, enjoying a sugary treat or savoring a high calorie beverage can sometimes be hard to resist and is likely fine for most individuals on occasion. With all the delicious food options available today – and their ease of availability – it can be very easy to overeat. Common culprits that can drive excessive food and beverage consumption are being unaware of how to evaluate foods for nutritional content and lack of understanding what healthy portion sizes are, both of which can take overindulging to an entirely new level.
The consequences of overeating and drinking are more than just a few extra pounds on your waistline. Harmful effects include:
- Excess body fat - When there is a caloric surplus, the body stores these extra calories as body fat.
- Disruption of hunger regulation - When someone hasn’t eaten for a while, ghrelin levels increase. Then, after eating, leptin levels tell the body that it’s full. Eating foods high in fat, salt, or sugar releases feel-good hormones like dopamine, which activate pleasure centers in the brain. This process may eventually override hunger regulation, encouraging the body to eat for pleasure rather than hunger.
- Contributes to whole body, systemic issues - Chronic overeating can not only make someone feel sluggish and uncomfortable after eating, but can also increase the risk of obesity, and serious health concerns including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or stroke.
- May cause nausea and stomach discomfort - Overeating on a regular basis can cause uncomfortable feelings of nausea and indigestion. When someone eats a large meal and starts to reach the upper limit of the stomach’s capacity, uncomfortable sensations such as heartburn and nausea can be triggered in response to the acute increase in stomach pressure.
- May cause excessive gas and bloating - Eating large amounts of food or eating too fast may strain your lower digestive system, triggering gas and bloating.
Overeating can not only have external physical consequences but can also take its toll internally. Preventing overeating by understanding portion sizes, avoiding processed foods, and orienting the diet around whole foods with high nutritional content are important steps to healthy eating habits. In addition to exercise, supporting the GI system and neurotransmitter pathways involved in healthy digestion through supplementation can all work together to create and support a balanced, heathy relationship with nourishing foods!
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- Cercato, C., Fonseca, F.A. Cardiovascular risk, and obesity. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome (https://doi.org/10.1186/s13098-019-0468-0)
- Prashant Singh, Sonia S. Yoon, Braden Kuo, Nausea: a review of pathophysiology and therapeutics, Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4699282)