4 Ways to Stop Digestive Discomfort After a Supersized Meal


Most of us have done it at some point, even with the best of intentions not to.

Sometimes that holiday meal is so delicious we can’t stop, or the dessert table is too tempting to ignore.

You feel bloated now, but don’t despair: Overdoing it once in a while isn’t going to ruin your health, though it can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

Overeating and your digestion

The average stomach ordinarily holds about one or two cups of food. When we overeat, we may be consuming twice that or even more. To make room for that extra food, your stomach stretches like a balloon. If you overeat frequently, your stomach expands easily (which is not a good thing unless you’re a competitive eater). Most people will feel discomfort as their stomach is stretched beyond its normal capacity.

Depending on what you’ve eaten, that feeling may stick around. Foods high in fat and fiber take longer to digest. So, if you’ve overeaten fried foods, expect stomach pain to linger.

As that food lingers in your belly, it can start to push up against your diaphragm, causing you to have shallow breaths. It can also cause digestive fluids to sneak back up into your esophagus. When that happens, you may experience heartburn, which has nothing to do with your heart, or a sour, acidic taste in your mouth.

Here are four guidelines to help avoid these symptoms.

Slow down. As you eat and your stomach stretches, hormones signal to your brain that you’re full. If you eat too quickly, you’ll have overeaten by the time your body gets the fullness signal. Also, try to listen to your body when you get that full feeling.

Get moving. If you’ve overeaten, take a gentle walk to help stimulate the process in your body that pushes the food down your gastrointestinal tract. Don’t run or overexert yourself, though. If you work too hard, blood will flow to your legs rather than your stomach, and digestion will slow down.

No napping. As much as a quick catnap after a big meal seems like a good idea, it’s not. If you lie down with your stomach stuffed, food can more easily work its way up your digestive tract rather than down. Lying down can worsen heartburn brought on by overeating.

Avoid bubbles. Have you ever been offered a glass of soda to settle your stomach? Just say no. Carbonated beverages add to the bloated feeling, and add more gas that your body needs to expel.

5 Ways to Feel Better After Overeating

When celebrations revolve around delicious food and drink, it’s easy to go overboard. And what’s better than eating your favorite dishes and clinking glasses with a cocktail?

That is, until you cross the line from satisfied to overstuffed. But it happens—and usually only takes one too many cookies to get there.

So, in that spirit, here are some expert tips below to feel better after overeating and also avoid overdoing it too much this season.

Acknowledge how you feel.

“Overeating, is eating past comfortable fullness or satiety,” echoes registered dietician Taylor Wolfram. “This could be an uncomfortable physical feeling of fullness in the stomach or acid reflux. Everyone feels their hunger and fullness in unique ways and it’s important to be mindful while eating to learn what your individual cues feel like.”

Some signs you overate might include feeling so full you can’t move well, stomach pain, headache, exhaustion, gas pains, bloating, and fatigue, says Aaptiv trainer Jaime McFaden. You may also experience a sense of being “foggy” or even slightly down in the dumps.

But don’t rush to judge yourself for grabbing an extra helping or the last slice of pie. Simply note how you feel and ask yourself if you’re truly still hungry. If not, put down the fork to give yourself some time to digest.

Ready to get your fitness back on track?

Move your body—within reason.

You may feel inclined to zone out on the couch after a big meal, but try to keep moving. It’ll help reduce pressure on your stomach and minimize heartburn. However, that doesn’t mean you should immediately head outside for a run or grab the weights.

Too much exercise after a big meal can put additional stress on your body by increasing cortisol and adrenal levels, which could negatively impact your metabolism altogether, says McFaden.

Wolfram agrees, “Exercise should not be used as a tool to ‘make up for’ food choices or to ‘erase’ overindulgence.” She adds, “Exercise should be about moving our bodies in ways that make us feel good, no matter our eating habits.”

Aaptiv trainer Candice Cunningham encourages people to be consistent with exercise without trying to use it to “solve” overeating. “If you consistently work out, then keep doing it. You don’t have to overdo it just because you ate a little too much yesterday.”

Don’t restrict foods.

We’ve all been there: after eating five breadsticks, you swear you’ll never touch them again. Then, you skip dinner and put yourself on a salad diet for next 48 hours. Most experts agree this approach will likely backfire.

“Many people overeat because they’ve been restricting,” says Wolfram. “If you label a food ‘bad’ and tell yourself you shouldn’t have it, you’re more likely to overeat it. When we give ourselves unconditional permission to eat, we’re less likely to obsess about certain foods or find ourselves overeating them,” she says.

Rather, aim for balance by sticking to a nutritional meal plan most of the time. Take your time while enjoying a meal, and sit down to eat without distraction, whenever possible. Also, use simple tools and tricks to hold yourself accountable. McFaden employs what she calls the “apple theory,” which works like this: when you think you’re hungry, ask yourself if you’d eat an apple right then. If the answer is no, you might be eating due to habit or a mental craving. And Cunningham uses the 80/20 rule—“if you’re eating decent portions of nutrient-dense food 80% of the time,” she says, “you can have splurges here and there. Consistency is key, and you’ll feel and look better, too.”

Ask for help.

A pattern of overeating or frequently exercising to cancel out certain foods may indicate a deeper issue at stake, which should be discussed with a professional.

“The National Eating Disorders Association defines a binge as ‘eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances,” says Wolfram. “Overeating is eating past comfortable fullness (see the hunger/fullness scale). Anyone who is struggling with their relationship with food should consider working with a registered dietitian.”

Developing a positive relationship with food is critical, says McFaden. She recommends learning the basics of nutrition and what your body needs. This way you can make better decisions at the grocery store and while meal planning. The same is true for exercise: view your workouts as a tool to help you feel your best, be strong, increase energy levels, ward off disease, and achieve fitness goals—not an activity that rules your schedule, nor an excuse to eat whatever you want.

“When exercise is used to compensate for food choices, it becomes unhealthy,” states Wolfram. “If someone is chronically overeating, they should work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to help understand what is at the root of the behavior, and develop strategies to achieve a healthier relationship with food.”

Let Aaptiv help with your fitness routines. We have the classes and workouts you’re sure to love. Check out a bunch of workout samples here.

Let it go.

Once you know you’ve overeaten, do your best to move on and set yourself up for future success—minus the guilt trip or shame talk along the way. Also, read the research on boosting your metabolism.

“It isn’t about being 100% perfect,” shares Cunningham. “Start with aiming to get eight glasses of water in and eating three meals. Then the next day, eat no refined carbs in the mix, then the next day the same deal. Use positive reinforcement to get back on track,” she concludes.

“When it comes to having a healthy relationship with food, what happened in the past shouldn’t dictate what happens in the future,” adds Wolfram. “Just because someone overeats doesn’t mean they need to skip a meal or go on a diet. Listening to internal hunger and fullness cues and eating mindfully are what matters most.”

Ready to get started with Aaptiv? Check out some of our workouts here.

6 Effective Ways To Boost Your Digestion After Overeating

Who knows how uncomfortable it feels after overindulging in your favourite food and then regretting immediately after? Well, it has to be all of us. It is definitely pleasurable to enjoy your favourite foods, but the after-effects of overeating can be terrible. Whatever be the occasion, an overstuffed stomach is uncomfortable and, of course, unhealthy. It gets worse when you don’t get quick remedies to deal with a troubled, stuffed tummy. But guess what, you don’t have to wait for hours in order to quell your bloated tummy as these simple home remedies can get you through the after-effects of over-eating.

Over eating tends to slow down your digestive capacity, depending on the kind of foods you ingested. As food lingers in your belly, it can start pushing itself upwards against your diaphragm, causing you to have shallow breaths, heart burn, acidity and other troublesome symptoms. Here are some effective ways to ease your stomach after you have over-indulged.

1. Drink herbal tea

Sipping on herbal teas can actually promote the movement of food through your digestive tract and give relief from the discomfort. Choose chamomile tea, chicory tea, green tea or any other herbal tea that you like.

Sipping on herbal teas can actually promote the movement of food through your digestive tract ​

2. Try peppermint

Suck on a peppermint candy right after you eat. Peppermint has menthol that helps relieve gas, indigestion and nausea. It basically helps soothe the opening between your stomach and esophagus, enabling stomach acid to flow back. You can also sip on a cup of peppermint tea too or have a peppermint chewing gum for relief.

Peppermint has menthol that helps relieve gas
3. Bring apple cider vinegar to your rescue

Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink up. This will immediately aid digestion and restore the gut mechanism. Apple cider vinegar contains healthy probiotics that help strengthen the gut and restore its work.

Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink up

4. A pinch of turmeric may help

Turmeric is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory spice that is also anti-bacterial and full of antioxidants. All these health benefits have been attributed to the compound curcumin that can ease the discomfort caused by overeating. All you need to do is to add a pinch of turmeric in hot water and lemon and then drink up.

Turmeric is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory spice that is also anti-bacterial​
5. Sip on spicy lemonade

Spicy drinks are known to ease digestive discomfort and lemon added to them can be even better. Along with lemon and hot water add a pinch of cayenne pepper to it. This will help stimulate the liver in order to detox your body and eliminate the excess food that you ate. Also, the combination is a powerful digestive aid that can easily soothe stomach ache, gas, bloating and acid reflux.

Spicy drinks are known to ease digestive discomfort and lemon added to them can be even better​
6. Take a walk

One of the simplest and most effective solutions is to take a walk right after eating; this will help stimulate the digestive processes in your body that pushes the food down your gastrointestinal tract. Do not run or jog, just stroll around for 15 minutes and you will feel better right after.

One of the simplest and most effective solutions is to take a walk right after eating
CommentsThese tips are not only effective in easing tummy troubles but are also healthy habits that one should follow.

Are you eating too much over the holidays or is holiday stress causing you a stomach ache? We’ve got some natural remedies to help soothe your tummy this holiday season.

Can holiday foods help?

You may have heard of ginger and peppermint helping to soothe an upset stomach, but don’t overdo it on gingerbread cookies or candy canes.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian and TODAY contributor, doesn’t usually recommend mixing ginger and peppermint with other food. Ginger cookies, which have ginger, sugar, flour, butter and other ingredients, may actually aggravate the condition, for example.

NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom echoed this advice. “Don’t be fooled by most holiday treats that sound like they can help an upset stomach,” she said. “Ginger and peppermint hard candies can sometimes help, but avoid looking for relief when these ingredients are a part of cookies or candy.”

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Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian nutritionist, added another note of caution: “The peppermint in your beloved candy canes may help soothe a mildly upset stomach by helping to soothe muscles in your digestive tract… but they also stimulates the valve at the top of your stomach to relax, so it’s more likely to stay open,” she said. “Combine that with a stomach that’s too full and that means a higher likelihood that stomach acid will bubble up and cause heartburn or reflux.”

Natural remedies for an upset stomach

Ginger cookies won’t help but real ginger, especially ginger tea, can be effective for a tummy ache.

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“Ginger is usually one of the best natural remedies for an upset stomach and can be consumed through teas or lozenges,” Kirkpatrick said. It contains a compound called gingerol that can help soothe an upset stomach and may prevent nausea. Steep a bag of ginger tea or make your own by peeling and grating fresh ginger into a mug of hot water with lemon and honey.

Kirkpatrick also recommended:

  • lemon juice
  • peppermint
  • chamomile or licorice tea

Another option is seltzer, which can often help release extra gas in the form of burping.

“It’s not for everyone, but often worth a try,” Fernstrom said. She also recommended adding fresh mint leaves to a cup of hot water to settle an upset stomach.

Body positions have an impact, too. Avoid lying down, which can cause reflux to occur, Kirkpatrick advised. If you’re sitting down, Brisette recommended placing a hot water bottle on your stomach or taking a warm bath. The heat helps your muscles relax, which can help with stomach cramps and discomfort. It also redirects your blood flow towards your skin, which can help take the focus away from stomach upset.

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How to prevent stomach cramps while eating

Remember to chew! It should be obvious, but Chicago-based registered dietitian Dawn Jackson-Blatner said she still has to remind many of her clients to do just that.

“Most bloating happens from eating too fast,” she said. IF you eat slower, it “can help you eat less and enjoy food more!” Think about putting your down your fork throughout your meal, Brisette advised. Then, ask yourself if you’re actually still hungry before eating more.

Strategies to prevent an upset stomach

Kirkpatrick advises her patients to consume probiotics in the form of fermented foods, like tempeh or miso soup, or a plain yogurt if the discomfort is consistent.

“Having fiber, water and probiotics regularly will help support a healthy digestive system over the holiday season and beyond,” Blatner said, suggesting oats as a great source of fiber that can also help support a healthy digestive track.

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She recommended putting together a natural digestion kit for your purse or to keep at home. This can include:

  • a peppermint tea bag: the peppermint and the warm water work to ease digestive upset and lessen the tight feeling of overeating.
  • fennel seeds: one of its active ingredients is anethole, which can help soothe heartburn and reflux discomfort. It’s also a natural breath freshener!
  • candied ginger: If you have a queasy stomach, it can help relax the digestive track and improve nausea.

To make your own antacid drink, Brissette recommended mixing one tablespoon of lemon or lime juice, one teaspoon baking soda and one cup of water. “This concoction can help with fat digestion and help reduce acidity in your stomach,” she said.

Finally, don’t rule out over-the-counter antacids. “If you’re not getting relief from your at-home efforts. They can be a helpful part of your tummy trouble treatment,” Fernstrom said.

Stephanie Mansour is a health & fitness expert and weight-loss coach for women. Join her complimentary health and weight-loss challenge here!

We’ve all been there on Thanksgiving: that moment when you feel so full that you discreetly unbutton the top of your pants and untuck your shirt to hide it, or retreat for a moment to stash your control-top tights in your purse and hope that no one notices your bare legs. Or maybe your tummy is so bloated with second helpings of pecan pie that all you want to do is lie down on the sofa in the fetal position. Sure, that might help, but it’s not exactly…socially appropriate. Instead of disrobing or curling up in a ball in front of guests after the holiday meal, you might want to try one of these natural remedies:

Chew some ginger

There’s a reason ginger is often turned to for stomach upset: it works. According to Dr. Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist, chiropractor, and doctor of natural medicine, ginger has been highly regarded as a digestive aid for thousands of years. “It’s effective for everything from nausea, to gas and bloating to a standard tummy ache,” says Dr. Axe. “And if you’re like most people who go all-out on Thanksgiving, chances are you’ll be suffering from at least one of those conditions.” Gingerol, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that naturally occurs in ginger, can “relax the gut lining,” explains Dr. Axe, which helps that enormous meal, um, move along more quickly.

Some hot ginger-lemon tea might just do the trick.

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Matt Duckor

I know what you’re thinking now—do we have to chew it? No, but Dr. Axe has found that chewing a slice of fresh, raw ginger is the fastest way to get results. If that’s too intense for you, you can make some fresh ginger juice or warm ginger tea.

Drink some aloe vera juice

Dr. Axe also recommends drinking 2-3 ounces of aloe juice immediately after your Thanksgiving feast. Aloe juice can be found at most natural foods stores, but look for one that has been certified pure to make sure you’re getting the full benefits. Aloe juice, explains Dr. Axe, contains natural enzymes that aid in digestion and help to break down sugars and fats. “It also normalizes the body’s pH balance which can be thrown off by a large carb- and protein-heavy meal,” he says. Also, he notes, “aloe vera has a mild laxative effect that can help move all of that excess food gently through the colon.”

Try digestive enzymes

If you’re looking for a pill to pop, Dr. Axe recommends seeking out a natural digestive enzyme to keep on hand for after the feast. “The too-full feeling we experience after Thanksgiving dinner is a sign that we’ve eaten more food than our body can efficiently digest at any one time,” he says. Dr. Axe explains that taking natural digestive enzymes can help relieve that discomfort “by helping to break down large molecules of food into smaller particles that the body can more easily absorb or expel.”

Resist the urge to lie down

I know all you want to do when you’re over-stuffed is lie down and take a nap. But it’s been clinically proven that taking a brief walk after eating will have a better effect on your digestion than having an espresso or drinking a digestif. A stroll might be just the thing you need to take a quick break from your family anyway, or a good way to finally get the secret gossip from your cousin Jane. Plus, if you’re lying down you’re more likely to get heartburn, so try to keep yourself upright for a couple hours after the meal, if possible.

Despite our best intentions to keep our eating under control during the food-filled holiday season, the excess sweets and savory feasts are near impossible to resist. We know we should consume reasonable portions, pass on seconds, and tune into our hunger and satiety cues, but inevitably we overindulge and end up feeling miserably stuffed. To deal with a troubled, overfull tummy, ChicagoHealers.com practitioner Dr Tom Bayne, Founder of Pure Balance Health Center, says the following tips will help ease stomach woes and aid in healthy digestion.

What to do when you overeat

If you can’t exercise restraint when it comes to the piles of cookies, bottomless cocktails and the plates and plates of holiday food, you can at least ease your digestive misery with a
little exercise, adequately hydrating and righting the diet ship.

1. Walk it off

The last thing you want to do after eating a giant meal is move, but that is exactly what you should do to help digest the excess. Dr Bayne recommends walking because not only does it help
food move along the digestive tract, the mild exercise will also improve digestion and food absorption. Rally your family and friends to get some fresh air after a big feast and take a stroll
around the neighborhood. For added benefits, walk while massaging your abdomen with your palms, in a circle around your belly button, the holistic doctor adds.

2. Drink herbal tea

Ugh, you’ve overindulged, and loosening your belt does little to relieve the pressure. According to Dr Bayne, a cup of herbal tea will stimulate digestion and give you relief. Steep 1
teaspoon each of mint, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, sage and basil in 1 cup of hot water. Drink after a large meal to soothe the stomach and prevent bloating.

3. Sip a digestive morning after drink

If you’ve poured two or three too many cocktails on top of extra helpings of holiday fare, you’re bound to wake up the next day with a food and drink hangover. Start the “morning
after” with an apple cider vinegar tonic: Stir 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 12 ounces of warm water and drink on an empty stomach. This will remedy digestive distress,
support liver detoxification, normalize digestive juices and reduce intestinal bloating. You can also add a little honey or maple syrup. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand, Dr
Bayne says lemon water will also promote healthy digestion.

4. Eat right

Though slapping a piece of duct tape over your mouth seems a good strategy for post-indulging calorie cutting, it isn’t a practical solution. However, Dr Bayne says you can right the ship by
eating meals with fiber and protein to help your body recover from the overindulgence. Choose small meals comprised of complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and lean
proteins, such as skinless chicken, fish, beans, nuts or soy foods.

5. Drink water- lots of it

Though hydrating is hardly a secret remedy for combating a hangover, Dr Bayne says it is worth reiterating. Since alcohol dehydrates your system, drinking plenty of H2O will help combat some of the
unpleasant hangover symptoms, rehydrate your body and flush out the nasty toxins. Drink a few glasses of room temperature, filtered water after a night of holiday excess and you’ll be on your
way to feeling better and cleansing your body.

Even though you may be more tempted to overeat during the holidays, these tummy tuning remedies will promote healthy digestion any time of the year you happen to overindulge in food and drink.

More diet tips

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  • Natural remedies for heartburn
  • How to overcome emotional overeating
  • 10 Tips for digestive health

As the festive season approaches, our attentions turn to Christmas dinner. But it is also the season of overeating and feeling stuffed. So, before you reach for just one more roast potato, let’s consider what really goes on in our digestive system when we consume large amounts of food.

Our digestive system runs from the entry point (the mouth) to the exit point (the anus), but for the average person, what goes on between these two points is a mystery. The function of the digestive system is to turn food into useful currency for the body to burn, grow, or store for future use. This process begins in the mouth where the teeth, tongue, and salivary glands facilitate mechanical and chemical digestion to form a bolus (a ball of food) that fits down the oesophagus and into the stomach. Imagine trying to get a tortilla chip from your mouth to your stomach in the form that it comes out of the bag; it’s going to hurt.

The stomach is a muscular bag that sits inside the abdomen and it is usually no bigger than your fist when empty. However, it has the capacity to expand and accommodate a much larger volume. The specialized muscle is folded to allow expansion as the stomach fills, and it produces acid to help break food down as well as churning to mechanically smash up food. The empty stomach contains about 40ml of liquid, but the average “full” volume of the stomach is about 800-1,000ml—and this is increased in people who are obese and binge eat.

After food has passed through the stomach, it goes into the small intestine where digestion continues and the (now broken-down nutrients) are absorbed into the blood stream. The small intestine, which is about 20ft long, connects to the large intestine, which is about 6ft long. The large intestine sees most of the water absorbed into the bloodstream and the remaining waste matter made into feces.

Another wafer-thin mint?

We often feel very full after eating a large amount because there is a delay for signals from the stretching stomach to reach the brain.

You may wonder why you go from feeling hungry to feeling full to bursting without any in-between feeling. Our body has a very complex way of telling us when we are hungry and full; it requires a number of hormones that are produced in response to the presence or absence of food in the digestive system. If we get the amount of food we consume right, we have the feeling of satiety—fullness that suppresses the urge to eat.

Two of the most important hormones are ghrelin and leptin. If we consider these hormones simplistically, ghrelin increases appetite and leptin decreases appetite. They are produced predominantly in the stomach and fat cells respectively. Grehlin is usually at a high level before you eat and reduces afterwards. Leptin tells the brain that we are full. So you would assume that people with more fat cells would produce more leptin and therefore be more likely to want to eat less. However, obese people build up a resistance to leptin, which means they have to produce more and more leptin for it to have an effect and reduce their appetite.

So here are a few things to bear in mind before you have that last wafer-thin mint:

What happens when I feel full to bursting? The food can go one of two ways, further into the digestive system or back where it came from in the form of vomiting. Overeating causes indigestion, when the stomach acid churns up into the esophagus. The stomach is “numb” to the acid but the oesophagus isn’t, which is why acid reflux burns.

The body also has to divert much of its energy to digesting the food, thereby causing us to feel tired and drowsy.

Can my stomach burst from over-eating? Sadly, yes. There are cases where the stomach becomes so large that it ruptures from the sheer volume of food within it. One 23-year-old lady had over 2,500ml within her stomach, which caused it to swell so much that it filled the whole of her abdomen, from her ribs to her pelvis. It eventually perforated, necessitating emergency surgery.

Can I die from overeating? Yes, there are a couple of reports of people dying from over-indulging. This is very rare, but it happens. One person died from tearing their oesophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach and others have actually ruptured their stomach by over-eating.

Still hungry now?

One of the largest Christmas meals ever consumed by one person was an American woman in 2010 consume 50 lbs of turkey, 30 lbs of ham, 35 lbs of potatoes, vegetables, and stuffing, which was then washed down with eight pints of gravy and relish and followed by dessert. This meal consisted of 30,000 calories—to put this into context, males and females are recommended to consume 2,500 and 2,000 calories daily, respectively.

Now where’s the link to that New Year gym membership?

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

What are the best ways to stop overeating?

People overeat for many different reasons. Some people eat too much when they feel stressed, while others overeat due to a lack of planning or because they use food as a pick-me-up.

While overeating has many different causes, there are as many ways to avoid or prevent it. Science-backed tips to prevent overeating include:

Limiting distractions

Share on PinterestA person should limit their distractions during mealtimes.

People often do other things while they eat. However, by not paying enough attention to what they are eating, many people overeat.

A 2013 review of 24 studies concluded that distracted eating could cause a moderate increase in immediate food intake and a more significant increase in the amount that people eat later in the day.

Limiting distractions as much as possible during mealtimes will allow the body to focus on the task at hand, which is eating. To do this, people should turn off computers, tablets, phones, and televisions when eating.

Eating slowly

Researchers are not entirely sure why, but it appears that people who eat slowly have a lower body mass index (BMI) and eat smaller meals.

Eating slowly might give the brain more time to realize that the stomach is full and send the cue to stop eating. Taking more time to eat may promote a greater sense of fullness and make people feel as though they ate more than they did.

In a 2015 study, adults who slowly ate 400 milliliters of tomato soup reported feeling fuller after the meal than people who ate the same portion quickly. After a 3-hour interval, those who ate slowly also remembered the portion as being more substantial than those in the second group did.

To practice eating slowly, try putting the utensils down or taking a few deep breaths between bites. Some people also find it helpful to set a timer so that they are more aware of how quickly they are eating.

Eating healthful portion sizes

It is useful to know what meal sizes are healthful and how to portion out food. According to the CDC, people who have large portions on their plate often unintentionally eat more calories than they need.

To practice good portion control, try:

  • splitting entrees or main meals with someone else when dining out
  • asking for a to-go box and boxing up half of the meal immediately
  • placing food on individual plates instead of leaving the serving dish on the table
  • avoiding eating straight out of the packet
  • putting small portions of snacks in bowls or other containers, especially when doing other activities while eating
  • storing bulk purchases in a place that is hard to reach
  • using smaller plates, bowls, or containers

Removing temptation

It is hard to stick to a meal plan when the cupboards, fridge, or freezer contain unhealthful foods. According to the CDC, opening up a cabinet and seeing a favorite snack food is a common trigger of overeating.

Parting with favorite snacks or treats is a vital step toward adopting a more healthful diet. Try clearing the cupboards of tempting snack goods, and donate unopened items to charity where possible.

Eating fiber-filled foods

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), eating both soluble and insoluble fiber can help people feel full for longer, which generally helps prevent overeating.

A small 2015 study found that participants who ate oatmeal for breakfast felt fuller for longer and ate less at lunchtime than those who had eaten cornflakes or just had water.

Fiber is a type of plant carbohydrate that occurs in many foods, including:

  • whole grains
  • beans, peas, and lentils
  • many vegetables, including leafy greens and sweet potatoes
  • most nuts and seeds
  • oats and oat bran
  • many whole fruits, especially berries and fruits with peels

Most people who are eating 2,000 calories daily should aim to get 25 grams (g) of fiber each day. Most people in the U.S. do not eat this much fiber.

Learn more about dietary fiber here.

Eating protein-rich foods

Share on PinterestNuts and seeds are protein-rich food.

Protein-rich foods tend to create a longer lasting sense of fullness and satisfaction than other foods. Eating protein-rich foods, especially at breakfast, also appears to reduce the levels of the hunger-regulating hormone ghrelin.

A 2012 study examined 193 sedentary men and women who had obesity but not diabetes. The authors found that eating a high protein, high carbohydrate breakfast reduced ghrelin levels more than a low carbohydrate breakfast.

The high protein, high carbohydrate breakfast also seemed to improve fullness and reduce hunger and cravings more than the low carbohydrate breakfast.

In 2014, a small-scale study that involved 20 young women found that eating high protein snacks that were less energy dense, such as high protein yogurt, improved satiety and appetite control compared with snacks high in fat. The high protein foods also helped reduce food intake later in the day.

There are many healthful protein-rich snacks and meals. Some examples include:

  • high protein yogurts and yogurt drinks, such as kefir
  • most nuts and seeds
  • most types of milk
  • most beans, peas, and lentils
  • fish, poultry, or lean beef
  • protein powders, which people can add to smoothies, shakes, or healthful baked goods

Learn more about healthful high protein snacks here.

Eating regularly

Many people skip meals in the belief that it will help them lose weight.

However, according to the CDC, skipping meals can cause overeating at other times, leading to weight gain. Research also suggests that eating breakfast can help control appetite and reduce overeating later in the day.

Many experts recommend eating smaller, more frequent meals. However, the American Society for Nutrition note that most research now supports the idea of eating three structured, nutritious meals at regular times each day.

Reducing stress

According to a 2014 review, stress appears to contribute to overeating and the development of obesity.

After a stressful event, raised hormone levels promote hunger to encourage the body to replace lost energy. As a result, chronic stress could lead to persistent hunger, overeating, and excessive weight gain.

There are many things that people can do to limit or reduce stress, such as:

  • exercising regularly
  • trying relaxing activities, such as yoga or meditation
  • staying connected and asking for help from friends and family
  • focusing on what needs doing straight away rather than on jobs that can wait
  • noting accomplishments at the end of the day

Learn more about chronic stress and how to manage it here.

Tracking the diet

Food diaries, journals, and diet tracking apps can often help minimize overeating and allow people to identify poor eating habits or patterns.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, food tracking helps make people more aware of what they eat. This awareness may help people stick to their dietary plans and either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

People can start using food tracking tools by recording what they eat and when they eat it. Once this has become routine, they can also track other factors, such as how much they eat and the calorie content of meals and snacks.

Plenty of free resources exist to help people keep a record of what and when they eat. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offer a daily food and activity diary that people can use.

Eating mindfully

People who practice mindfulness aim to focus on their moment-to-moment experiences, emotions, and thoughts in a nonjudgmental way.

More conclusive evidence is necessary, but it seems that mindful eating may help prevent overeating. A 2014 review of 21 studies found that 18 reported that mindful eating habits led to an improvement in targeted eating behaviors, such as binge eating and emotional eating.

To practice mindful eating, focus on the sensations that food produces on the tongue, how it smells, its texture, and whatever other qualities it may possess. While doing so, observe the thoughts and emotions that eating causes.

Limiting alcohol intake

People have used alcohol to increase the appetite for centuries, and many studies show that alcohol intake often correlates with obesity.

Researchers do not know exactly why alcohol provokes hunger and eating. However, a 2017 study using preserved brain matter found that exposure to ethanol, the active ingredient in alcohol, can cause hyperactivity in the brain cells that starvation typically activates.

To avoid accidentally overeating, try cutting back on or limiting alcohol intake. Alcohol is also full of empty calories, meaning that it may cause weight gain without providing any nutrition.

Avoiding last-minute food choices

Making last-minute meal and snack choices is a common trigger for overeating. When people make impulsive food decisions, it can be easy to pick nutritionally poor, calorie-dense foods.

To avoid overeating, prepare or plan meals for the week or days ahead. At the same time, prepare healthful snacks, such as chopped vegetables in containers.

Staying hydrated with water

Share on PinterestA person can help prevent overeating by staying hydrated.

Staying hydrated is an important way to prevent overeating. A 2016 study found that there was a significant relationship between being dehydrated and having an elevated BMI or obesity.

Researchers are still trying to work out the link between dehydration and overeating. One possibility is that people might sometimes eat when they are actually thirsty.

Choosing water over other drinks is also likely to help prevent overeating because water is free of calories. People may be unaware of the calories, carbohydrates, and fat in other drink choices, such as sodas, juices, smoothies, and coffees.

Working out what causes overeating and addressing it

Many people eat for reasons other than hunger, such as being stressed, tired, or sad. A lot of people also overeat because of certain habits, such as eating while distracted or eating too quickly.

Try making a list of things that trigger overeating and then coming up with ways to avoid or address them. For example, this might mean calling a friend to talk when feeling overwhelmed or not keeping snacks close to the TV.

Many people find it easiest to focus on changing one habit at a time instead of trying to break several patterns all at once. It is also usually best to try dealing with minor issues first before tackling more significant ones.

Food habits can take a while to break. People should be gentle with themselves while making dietary changes and focus on taking things a day at a time.

Eating with people who have similar food goals

It seems that the amount that people eat and the food choices that they make tend to be similar to those of the people they eat alongside. As a result, the social context of eating is likely to influence the risk of overeating.

To avoid overeating, try to dine with people who have similar eating goals. Eating around people who are also keeping track of their portion sizes may help reduce some of the temptation to overindulge.

The article suggests that if people grocery shop from the outside of the market to the inside of market, trick their children into eating vegetables, since the kids don’t like them, and resist stopping at fast food restaurants, then they will be smart eaters. Quick, easy, overnight American results for what I believe are long- term, difficult and complex parts of a person’s sense of self. As if in the middle of a binge, a person who has been wired to overeat since early childhood could suddenly think and visualize the imaginary success they will have if they pass up the Cinnabon at the airport. Wrong. The truest most common response is, “I might as well. I have already gone over my calories in the first place.”

When a person uses food as a means to emotionally regulate, which I believe is the core of a hunger disease, the part of the brain that “knows” is left behind in the dust somewhere between the moment of waking each morning and recanting,, “Today I will be good,” and entering Starbucks and buying a latte and butter croissant. Emotions rule the hunger behind an eating disorder, not intelligence.

So, this is why overcoming being overweight, which is considered a binge eating disorder that is soon to be included in the diagnostic statistical manual’s (DSM) revision, cannot be done with dieting or following an exercise program alone. People with eating disorders have more success in becoming the person they imagine becoming by engaging in a psychotherapeutic process. This is because it involves putting words to inner experience rather than actions that use the body for a curative effect. For instance, a patient I have been working with for two and half years came to therapy hoping to lose weight prior to a big event in her life. It was not easy for her to accept my idea that a diet and a food plan would do her in. It did not come easy for her to attend weekly sessions and talk about herself for the first time in her life, to express her feelings with adjectives instead of cookies. Peeling back her layers, shedding her skin, week in and week out, she often talked about her childhood, her marriage, her job, her friends, her relationships, her ideas, her interests, and how she likes cookies and ice cream. She lost more than 40 pounds. She states clearly that she did this without a diet, without a gimmick, she did it “on her own” by finding her way, her plan and her words.

I wish I read something in this expert article that addressed the emotional and psychological aspects of being overweight. It is such a huge part of this epidemic, and it goes almost completely unrecognized and unacknowledged. Mainly, I think, because addressing the deeper, more compelling and complicated emotional details of eating does not come easy.

About the Author

Angela Wurtzel, M.A., MFT, CEDS Angela Wurtzel has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UCLA and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. Angela is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified eating disorder specialist with the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals.

What happens when you overeat?

Sometimes it’s taste, sometimes it’s habit, or maybe it’s stress. But chances are, at some point, you have over-eaten.

“It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to send a signal to the stomach to let you know that you’re full. Overeating occurs when you continue to eat beyond this point of fullness,” says Erma Levy, a research dietitian at MD Anderson.

Overeating can lead to unwanted weight gain, and carrying excess weight can increase your cancer risk.

But it’s not just about the unwanted calories. Overeating affects your body in a variety of ways. We spoke to Levy to learn more about the effects of overeating. Here’s what she had to say.

So, what happens to your body when you overeat?

  • Overeating causes the stomach to expand beyond its normal size to adjust to the large amount of food. The expanded stomach pushes against other organs, making you uncomfortable. This discomfort can take the form of feeling tired, sluggish or drowsy. Your clothes also may feel tight, too.
  • Eating too much food requires your organs to work harder. They secrete extra hormones and enzymes to break the food down.
  • To break down food, the stomach produces hydrochloric acid. If you overeat, this acid may back up into the esophagus resulting in heartburn. Consuming too much food that is high in fat, like pizza and cheeseburgers, may make you more susceptible to heartburn.
  • Your stomach may also produce gas, leaving you with an uncomfortable full feeling.
  • Your metabolism may speed up as it tries to burn off those extra calories. You may experience a temporary feeling of being hot, sweaty or even dizzy.

What are the long-term effects of overeating?
When you eat, your body uses some of the calories you consume for energy. The rest are stored as fat. Consuming more calories than you burn may cause you to become overweight or obese. This increases your risk for cancer and other chronic health problems.

Overeating — especially unhealthy foods — can take its toll on your digestive system. Digestive enzymes are only available in limited quantity, so the larger the amount of food you eat, the longer it takes to digest. If you overeat frequently, over time, this slowed digestive process means the food you eat will remain in the stomach for a longer period of time and be more likely to turn into fat.

Overeating can even impact your sleep. Your circadian clock, which controls your sleep cycles, causes your sleep and hunger hormone levels to rise and fall throughout the day. Overeating can upset this rhythm, making it hard for you to sleep through the night.

What are some ways to stop overeating?

Stomach pain from overeating

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