Food is one of many ways to cope with the stress and anxiety associated with the pressures of life, especially when physical interaction with people is next to impossible. With so many tasty food options and a wide variety of snacks available, it is easy for you to become prone to overeating. However, without knowing that portion sizing exists, overeating can get out of control and lead to adverse health effects over time. One way of keeping this unhealthy habit under control is to understand how it affects your body.
1. Promotes Excess Body Fat
How much calories you consume versus how you much you burn determines your daily calorie balance. When you eat more than what you burn, this is known as a calorie surplus. As a result, they are stored as fat by your body. Because you are consuming more calories than needed, overeating may result in increased body fat levels or obesity. Unlike excess calories from protein, which takes longer to metabolize, those from carbohydrates and fat are more prone to boosting body fat. Lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables should help you avoid excess fat gain before eating higher-carb and higher-fat food.
2. Disrupt Hunger Regulation
Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. Leptin, by contrast, suppresses appetite. Both hormones affect hunger regulation. When you haven’t eaten for some time, ghrelin levels increase. After eating, your leptin levels tell your body that it is full. Overeating can disrupt this balance. Salty, fatty and sugary foods release feel-good hormones such as dopamine, which activates your brain’s pleasure centers. This causes your body to associate pleasure with certain foods that are high in fat and calories over time and eventually override hunger regulation, encouraging you to eat out of pleasure rather than hunger. The disruption of these hormones, thus triggers a perpetual cycle of overeating.
3. Increases Disease Risk
Occasional overeating is not likely to affect your health in the long term. Chronic overeating, however, can lead to obesity, increasing your risk of diabetes in turn. Defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above, obesity is a main risk factor for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that raises your chances of heart disease and other health problems such as diabetes and stroke. High blood fat levels, elevated blood pressure, inflammation and insulin resistance are among the major indicators of metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance, in particular, is closely linked to chronic overeating. It develops when excess sugar in your blood reduces insulin’s ability to store blood sugar in your cells. If left uncontrolled, insulin resistance may lead to type 2 diabetes.
4. Impair Brain Function
Continual overeating and obesity are tied by several studies to mental decline in older adults, compared to those who do not. One study found that being overweight negatively affects memory in older adults, compared with those having a normal weight. However, more studies are needed to identify the extent and mechanisms of mental decline in relation to overeating and obesity. Since your brain comprises approximately 60 percent fat, avocados, nut butters, fatty fish, olive oil and other healthy fats may help prevent mental decline.
5. May Make You Nauseous
Frequent overeating can cause feelings of nausea and indigestion. Having approximately the size of a clenched fist, the adult stomach can hold about 2.5 ounces when empty, though it can expand to hold around a quart. Do note that these numbers vary based on size and how much you regularly eat. Nausea occurs when you eat a big meal, and you start to reach the upper limit of your stomach’s capacity. In severe cases, this may lead to vomiting — your body’s way of relieving acute stomach pressure. Though there are over-the-counter medications that may help treat nausea conditions, the best approach is by regulating your portion sizes and eating slowly to prevent these symptoms.
6. May Cause Excessive Gas And Bloating
By eating large amounts of food, your digestive system becomes strained, triggering gas and bloating. Spicy and fatty food as well as fizzy drinks such as soda, are gas-producing food items that many of us tend to overeat. Beans and whole grains as well as certain vegetables also produce gas, but are not overeaten as often. Furthermore, because large amounts of food rapidly enter your stomach, eating too fast may promote gas and bloating. To avoid excess gas and bloating, start by eating slowly, waiting until after meals before taking fluids and reducing portion sizes of gassy foods.
7. May Make You Sleepy
You may feel sluggish or tired when you overeat. This is caused by reactive hypoglycemia, a phenomenon where your blood sugars drop shortly after eating a big meal. Low blood sugar is commonly linked to sleepiness, sluggishness, rapid heart rate and headaches, among other symptoms. While not fully understood, it is thought to be related to excess insulin production. Although reactive hypoglycemia is most common in those with diabetes who administer too much insulin, it may also occur in some individuals as a result of overeating.