The holiday season is a wonderful time filled with family, fun, and, of course, food! Food seems to be in abundance everywhere you turn.
All the snacks, candy, and hearty holiday meals can easily lead to overeating. In fact, the average American gains between 1 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holiday season can greatly increase weight gain, leading to overweight and obesity.
Yet, overeating can have many more negative effects than just weight gain.
1. Blood Sugar Spike
Blood sugar spikes occur when we overeat, especially if the food is primarily carbohydrate or sugary foods.
Basically, the body rushes to put the energy to use. But the body thinks it needs to go through the energy quickly. Rushing through the energy leads to a crash.
A hard one.
2. Stomach Expansion
The stomach is made to hold about 4 cups of food comfortably. The stomach can expand to hold up to 12-16 cups.
When the stomach expands, it pushes on other organs. This inhibits their functions causing them to overwork, more than they already are. Many of these pushed organs are working hard to create extra hormones and enzymes to break down the food while being compressed.
Also, a lot of blood is sent to the gastrointestinal tract to provide the energy needed to break down food. The longer blood is there means there is not enough blood to carry nutrients to the rest of the body.
3. Hydrochloric Acid
The backup caused by compressed organs can also lead to heartburn. The backup forces stomach acid to retreat into the esophagus. Although the common term for this is heartburn, the name is misleading. The hydrochloric acid is literally burning your esophagus.
4. Digestive System
The digestive system has a limited number of enzymes it can release at one time. This means extra food will sit in the stomach longer. The food that sits longer is more likely to be turned into fat. Especially if you overeat often.
The hormones that cause sleep also cause hunger. Overeating makes you full for a long time. This can lead to a disruption in the hormone levels and make it harder to sleep. Basically, your body is a fine-tuned system. Overeating can disrupt that system.
Preventing overeating is really a matter of discipline. But the holidays can test anyone’s resolve. Here’s some things to keep in mind.
Holidays are holidays
Let’s face it, food is part of holiday tradition. It can't be avoided, but we can be smart.
1. Be Mindful
Pay attention to snacking you may do while preparing food and limit it. You will still get to enjoy the food later.
Also, be mindful of your portions. It takes the body about 20 minutes to let you know you’re full. Monitor your portions. Wait for a few minutes after each serving to analyze how full you are. Remember, it's ok to have leftovers- fridges were made for a reason.
2. Listen to Your Body
Your body is very good at telling you what kind of food it needs. Take a few moments to see if your body needs fat, protein, or carbs. Choose the food your body needs.
3. Don’t Let Holiday Eating be Everyday Eating
Unfortunately, holiday eating can create mental pathways that connect food with certain emotions. This is often why stress causes people to eat. Basically, your body starts to think food is the answer to any emotion. Reset your mindset.
If you have any other helpful tips for preventing or overcoming overeating, please comment so we can spread the word!
Blackburn, K. B. (2018, February). What happens when you overeat? Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/February2018/What-happens-when-you-overeat.html
Hagen-Miller, L. (2017, December 06). What Happens to Your Body When You Pig Out Over the Holidays. Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-happens-to-your-body-over-the-holidays#1
Hill, M. (2018, June 21). Tips from a Nutritionist: 5 Ways to Recover After Overeating. Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/cure-for-overeating#1
Piedmont Healthcare. (n.d.). What happens to your body when you overeat? Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-overeat
UC Davis Health. (n.d.). Quenching the Fire of Heartburn. Retrieved October 26, 2018, from https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/20081204_heartburn/index.html