Half of us may admit to overeating but the truth is, it happens to everyone at some point or another. Especially around the holidays, for many of us, it has become a part of a tradition to cook and share a big meal with family and friends! Sure, it’s festive and fun and we all survive to talk about it but how many of us really understand what’s going on at a cellular/organ level in our bodies when we overeat?!
We all know that overeating, especially high fat, high carb foods can cause more fatty deposits in the body, leading to weight gain in the long run. But too often we turn a blind eye to some short term effects… that is, unless it’s heartburn or diarrhea! Even if one of these symptoms are not immediately showing up after you overeat, you’re still damaging your body in ways you cannot see.
How Overeating Affects You
How overeating affects our: Mood, Bacterial Balance, Bloodstream, Immunity, and Organs
Overeating can change your mood, making you spacey, less social, and wanting to sit and rest. This is because we have two systems at play in our bodies at all times; Sympathetic (fight-or-flight,) and Parasympathetic (relaxation.) Each system works pretty much opposite of each other.
Sympathetic signals will send blood to our muscles in order to power movement and action. On the other hand, Parasympathetic signals will send blood to our organ tissues to properly power them to do their job at digesting! Parasympathetic is also our body’s recovery mood.
Have you ever thought, “why am I so tired after I eat?” Your body uses energy to break down and digest your food, so depending on the factors surrounding your meal such as, eating too fast, eating cold foods, overeating, and poor food choice combinations, your body will need more energy to power through digestion. This is why it feels like we begin to shut down after a large meal.
Gut Impairment and Imbalance
Your gut and body are more than just a vessel that food goes in and out of. The human gut is a sensitive, living environment, made up of communities of bacteria! Depending on environmental factors, and how we care for our bodies, we house different levels of good and bad bacteria, as well as fungi and viruses, that make up our gut microbiome.
When in balance, the good bacteria help us digest our food and supply us with vitamins and nutrients! Although, when our bellies are overloaded with food, we are overworking the bacteria, leaving undigested foods to either putrefy or be eaten by fungi and bad bacteria, fueling them to grow. When our balance of good bacteria is lowered and, in turn, bad bacteria thrive, this is called Dysbiosis.
- Long-term: Unaddressed Dysbiosis shows up as a marker in conditions such as IBS, bloating, belching, heartburn, bad breath, abdominal pain, diarrhea, indigestion, fatigue, mental fog, yeast overgrowth, sugar cravings (including alcohol), acne or hives, and even depression.
You can improve your digestion with a high quality living probiotic! This will add more of the good bacteria to your gut and move your bowels naturally!
Battle In Our Bloodstream
Another job of our good bacteria is to protect and nourish our intestinal lining. This one-cell thick lining is so important in keeping pathogens out of our bloodstream. By overeating, we are leaving large amounts of undigested, rotting food, to move through our system. These undigested proteins can irritate the intestinal lining, breaking it down, and allowing contents from the gut to pass into the bloodstream! An alarm is then sounded in our immune system to get to work attacking and disposing of these “foreign objects.”
- Long-term: Our hope is that the problem gets corrected but, as I said earlier, we don’t often recognize that there’s a battle going on inside of our bodies at this stage. By constantly creating a problem for our immune system, our bodies will start to show signs of chronic inflammation, manifesting as allergies, congested sinus, dry itchy skin, anxiety, and over time, degradation of cartilage and joints.
Organs Under Stress Malfunction
Putting stress on the organs, such as the spleen, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and stomach, can set off a cascade effect.
- Liver and Spleen both filter the blood in their own way. The Liver detoxifies poisons, metabolizes proteins and helps to maintain blood sugar levels. These are only some jobs of the liver and when it becomes overworked by overeating, it will pass on some of the stress back to the intestines.
- Our Gallbladder produces bile that acts as a detergent to break up fats in our system. It’s a tiny organ and easily overworked which is why many have gotten it removed. After a big meal, a person’s ability to break down fats is depleted.
- High sugar consumption and increased body fat (as with chronic overeating) require the Pancreas to produce high levels of insulin. Ultimately, this will exhaust the pancreas and lead to high levels of sugar in the blood because the cells become desensitized to the insulin signal telling them to intake sugar. This adds stress to the liver, as one of its jobs is to store excess sugar from the blood.
- Our Stomach can end up stretching when we eat a big meal, decreasing the ability to move food through efficiently. Also, a larger stomach can place pressure on the lungs and heart, causing one to be short of breath.
Overall, when we overeat, we are putting stress on every organ to do its job at an unnatural rate. Our organs should have their best chance to function properly, as they are designed to, in order to efficiently power us through the day to day life.
Try only eating up until you’re 80% full, then give yourself 20 minutes before you decide to eat some more.
The food will either be there for you to eat later, or you can serve a plate for yourself, and put it aside, in case you’re worried it’ll all be gone before you return for seconds!
It is more than worth it, it’s for the health of it!