Eating is a key component of how you live your healthiest, happiest life, but it’s possible to overdo it. While eating too much now and then isn’t dangerous, eating too much on the reg can lead to health concerns.
Here are some of the biggest health effects that overeating has on your body.
When overeating is a symptom of something more serious
If you’re consistently overeating, it could be a symptom of a disordered relationship with food. This might be caused by an eating disorder like bulimia, but that’s not always the case.
Here are some symptoms that let you know it’s time to reach out for help:
- feeling dizzy
- skipping meals
- digestive concerns
- guilt after eating
- compulsive eating
- bingeing, purging, or both
- obsessive calorie counting
- using laxatives or diet pills
- feeling like you have no control around food
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has free resources on their website, including a live chat feature and phone helpline. In a crisis situation, you can text “NEDA” to 741741 to talk with a trained volunteer.
Repeatedly eating more than your body needs is a heath concern that’s worth paying attention to. Even occasional overeating can come with some negative effects on your body.
1. May cause unwanted weight gain
Overeating can lead to a calorie surplus (which means you consume more calories than you burn). An occasional smörgåsbord prob won’t affect your weight too much. But chronic overeating can lead to a high BMI, according to a research review.
And it isn’t just about how much you eat. What you eat counts for a lot too. A 2012 study showed that carbs and fats give your body energy, but getting more of these nutrients than you need can lead to more weight gain than with foods like lean proteins or nonstarchy vegetables.
2. Might disrupt hunger signals
Foods that are high in salt, sugar, or fat release happy chemicals in your brain like dopamine, according to a 2014 research review. Over time, you might start to crave these foods more, even if you’re not hungry, according to another 2014 research review.
According to a 2008 research review, overeating can also mess with hunger hormones like ghrelin (which stimulates appetite) and leptin (which suppresses appetite). This disruption can trigger a cycle of overeating.
3. May increase risk of disease
Overdoing it at a pizza party prob won’t lead to any long-term health concerns. But regularly overeating can increase your risk of obesity-related health concerns, like cardiovascular disease, increased blood pressure or abnormal triglyceride levels.
A 2014 research review showed that overeating trans fats in particular can put you at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Try to get less than 4 percent of your dietary fat from trans fats.
If you’re regularly overeating highly processed and sugary foods, it could also increase your risk of metabolic syndrome.
If left unchecked, metabolic syndrome can lead to:
- heart disease, according to a research review
- type 2 diabetes
4. Might affect your brain
Consistently overeating, especially highly processed and sugary foods, isn’t just bad for the bod. If overeating leads to obesity, it can also affect your brain function.
A 2009 study linked obesity to mental decline in older folks, even when controlling for obesity-related diseases. So, having obesity may also reduce cognitive abilities like memory.
That said, eating enough to get balanced nutrition is an important way to support your smarts. Certain fats found in foods like olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and avocados can even help prevent mental decline.
5. Could cause tummy troubles
A study showed that the average adult stomach has a volume of about 2.5 ounces when it’s empty. (That’s about the size of a clenched fist.) It can expand to about 1 quart.
If you eat past your stomach’s capacity, you might feel queasy or even toss your cookies, according to a research review 🤢. A 2009 study showed that other digestive concerns linked to overeating include heartburn, bloating, and gas.
You can try an over the counter medication like bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) to remedy these symptoms if they happen.
6. Could make you tired
Reactive hypoglycemia might be related to excess insulin production, according to a 2013 condition overview, but more research is needed to have a better idea of the link.
Here are some tips to keep your portions in check.
- Fill your plate with nutritious, satisfying foods. That means stuff like lean proteins, healthy fats, fibrous carbs, and nonstarchy veggies that help you feel full and give your body the nutrients it needs.
- Don’t deprive yourself. Cutting out everything you love can lead to bingeing. So, if you want pie, you eat that pie fam 🥧! Moderation is key.
- Eat slower. When you scarf your food, your brain doesn’t have time to realize you’re full. This can leave you with that uncomfortable, bloated feeling.
- Don’t skip meals. This can contribute to cravings and might lead to overeating.
- Reach out for support. If you suspect your overeating could be related to an eating disorder, it’s important to find help from a professional.
Resources for binge eating
- eating in secret
- eating until you’re uncomfortable
- eating large amounts of food in a single sitting
- feeling like you have no control over how much you eat
- feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed about what you eat
If you have B.E.D. remember you are not alone. Here are some resources that can help:
- Eating disorder apps. Popular options include Recovery Record and Rise Up + Recover. Both are available for iPhone or Android phones.
- Therapy. According to a research review cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you understand the link between your emotions and eating. Then you can work on developing healthier habits.
- Yoga. One study showed that a yoga practice can improve your eating habits and raise your feelings of self-worth.
P.S. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient and treat yourself with kindness ❤️.
Chronic overeating can lead to health concerns like weight gain, mental decline, sleep issues, heart problems, and tummy troubles. It could also be a sign of a serious condition like B.E.D. that requires medical attention.