‘Tis the season for plate after plate after plate of delicious, rich, and fatty foods. It’s ok to indulge in the holiday season but there’s something you should know: overeating can take a toll on your digestive system.
Your digestive system gets to work the minute your sensories are introduced to food. That’s right, that delicious spread you see and smell sets off the production of enzymes and hormones that break down food – in preparation of the food you are about to eat.
Once food enters your stomach, your stomach begins to stretch and chemical messages are sent to the brain to signal that you feel full. Signals are then sent to your heart and blood vessels to increase blood flow to the stomach and digestive organs to help start breaking down the food.
When you eat beyond satiation, here’s what happens.
Your heart rate goes up
When you eat more than you’re supposed to, an increased amount of blood is sent to your gut to help digest the amount of food you just put there. In turn, your heart rate goes up and in some cases you might even feel hot, dizzy, and/or start sweating.
You get lethargic
Your very full, small intestine, tells your brain that you need to rest so that your body can digest. Your insulin levels also increase to help rid your bloodstream of the excess sugar that was consumed. All of these reactions are what make you feel drained and lethargic.
Too much food can cause gas to produce. We all know how embarrassing that can be.
You get heartburn
When your stomach is too full, the excess stomach acid produced can splash up into your esophagus and cause heartburn.
Your organs are in hyperdrive
Digesting massive amounts of food sets off multiple chemical reactions in your body as your digestive system gets to work.
- Your pancreas releases excess insulin to help metabolize the excess sugar, which can cause your blood pressure to drop.
- Serotonin and melatonin are released
- Your heart increases blood flow, which raises your heart rate
- Your stomach releases an increased amount of stomach acid
Your stomach stretches
This is the kind of stretching that isn’t good. When overeating becomes a habit, your stomach wall stretches. Stretching of the stomach results in it taking more food than previously for you to feel full.
When you make a habit of overeating, you are transforming the way your body responds to the feeling of fullness. It could lead to excessive overeating, weight gain, obesity, and major digestive issues. So, while it’s ok to indulge sometimes, it’s important to keep it in check.
Here are some tips to help keep you from overeating.
- Use a smaller plate
- Slow down and enjoy your food
- Be mindful of what you’re eating and how much you’re consuming
- Drink lots of water
- Stop when you feel full