Five Seasons Family Sports Club Blog

What Happens to Your Body When You Overeat?

Posted by Five Seasons Family Sports Club on 12/7/17 9:00 AM

The fun and festive vibe of the holiday season makes it incredibly easy to overeat at various parties and family gatherings. Add to that the fact that many of life's most indulgent foods tend to emerge during this time of year, and you set the stage for what would seem to be a "perfect storm" of overconsumption. Now we all know that overeating is not the best thing to do, but we might not know exactly why. Below are some key points that detail what exactly happens to your body when you overeat. 

1. You start feeling overly full and bloated. 

Keep in mind that every time you swallow food, you're also swallowing air along with it. This air gets down into your digestive tract, and it will expand once it reaches your stomach, producing that bloated, gassy feeling that we all know (and hate). If you had any carbonated beverages with your meal, you'll probably experience a more intense version of this feeling due to the additional gas found in soft drinks. 

2. Your stomach will begin to swell. 

Fortunately, your stomach is an elastic organ that can expand to accommodate large meals when necessary. While the stomach is quite resilient, the expansion of this organ will put pressure on your surrounding internal organs, possibly making you feel like you need to unbutton your pants to provide some relief from the discomfort. 

3. Heartburn begins to set in. 

Your stomach naturally produces a highly caustic substance known as hydrochloric acid in order to break down the food you eat. If you eat a very large meal, your stomach will produce a larger volume of acid, some of which can back up into your esophagus, causing what we commonly call heartburn. While there is some debate among researchers as to how much of a role food actually plays in producing heartburn, it is generally believed that certain types of high-acidity foods – e.g., grapefruit, oranges, tomatoes, chocolate, carbonated beverages, etc. – can stimulate increased acid production in the stomach, setting the stage for heartburn and possibly acid reflux. 

4. You start feeling drowsy, sleepy and/or lethargic. 

As your body begins to digest a massive meal, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, triggering the release of an avalanche of subsequent hormones as well including serotonin and melatonin (a.k.a. the "feel good" hormones). These hormones can make you feel satiated and sleepy. Not only that, but bear in mind that your body has to work a lot harder to digest larger meals, and it will require more energy to carry out the digestive process as well. As your body begins to pull from these energy reserves, you can begin to feel sluggish and tired. 

5. Excess calories are stored as fat. 

Whether your meal was primarily comprised of proteins, fat or carbohydrates, any excess calories that you ingest beyond what your body needs at the time will be converted to (and stored as) fat. This is the reason why frequent overeating can eventually lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, many times we can miss the cues that our body is trying to give us, because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register fullness and satiety. If you happen to eat more than what your body may have needed to feel full within that time frame, you will end up feeling stuffed by the time your brain registers those feelings of satiation. 

As you can see, overeating has quite a few undesirable consequences, so it's better to avoid going the overconsumption route altogether. Do your best to exercise moderation, and make sure you pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you during meals. By taking the time to carefully assess your hunger level before (and during) eating, you can save yourself a lot of discomfort, and you'll be better able to enjoy yourself during this special time of year.

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Topics: Healthy Living

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