Who doesn’t love eating? Alongside its necessity in our overall existence, it’s also just an incredible pastime. The nourishment and the pleasure it provides us is inconceivable. Personally, I’ve never understood people who take just a few bites of something and move on. I’m the type of person who, if I like it, must devour all that is in front of me and more — hence why the idea of making larger portions for leftovers never seems to work.

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From the smile that surfaces on people’s faces at the simple smell of food being prepared to the flavour dance that unfolds as the first bite hits their mouths, food is undoubtedly a pleasurable experience. But, when one bite becomes too many, the opposite seems to happen. People crawl to the couch, holding their stomachs as the bloating begins. They reach for pills that will alleviate their heartburn. Their face, in comparison to the one just before their plate of food was served, is one of pure misery, discontentment, and even regret. But it never fails to stop many of us from doing it time and time again.

The discomfort of overeating isn’t just your imagination. Your brain and your stomach are telling you in various ways that you need to put down the utensil and give it up for your own good. As a human race, we like to push the limits, especially when it comes to how much we can eat, but is it really worth it? It’s not a matter of feeling guilty if, during a holiday, a birthday, or a random night when the food is just too good to stop, you can’t help but overindulge in scrumptiousness before you. Overeating on such occasions isn’t a detriment to your health, but consistently doing so can be a big problem.

When you make a habit of overeating, you are transforming the way your body responds to the feeling of fullness, which in turn can have some serious effects on your wellbeing, including: becoming addicted to food, changing your body clock, lowering your body’s pleasure receptors, and losing the ability to recognize when you’re full.

But, perhaps before you get to that point, you might want to become aware of what happens during just one indulgent night in order to help you steer clear of making it a habit.

1. Your Intestines Tell Your Brain That It’s Time To Stop

Ever notice how one minute you can be face deep in your plate, then the next, the feeling of fullness suddenly smacks you in the gut? It can feel like it comes out of nowhere. When you finally get that overwhelming feeling of fullness, your stomach and intestines’ satiety hormones called oxyntomodulin and peptide tyrosine-tyrosine make their way to the brain where they work with receptors to communicate that fullness has been reached, and that your appetite should now go down. Another hormone that kicks in is leptin, which tells your brain how much energy you currently have in your body and how much food you need. And because it takes time for these messages to register, eating too fast can easily lead to overeating — hence the necessity to take your time consuming each bite.

2. You Go Into A Food Coma

Post food intake, you might feel like you have nothing left in you energy-wise, and you begin to plot your exit from the dinner table and to the couch. You’ve somehow exhausted yourself from the act of overeating and are now far too full and depleted of energy to think about anything else other than getting horizontal. When this happens, your small intestine is telling your brain that the body must recover by resting and digesting, which puts your body in a state of lethargy. Your insulin levels also increase in order to rid the bloodstream of the excess sugar intake, which can leave your body feeling tired. Your body doesn’t stop producing insulin until your brain becomes aware that your blood sugar levels are in a good place, but because this message takes time to receive, too much sugar can be cleared away, which can result in low blood sugar. This can make you feel drowsy, among other things.

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3. Your Body Experiences Discomfort In The Form Of Gas

After consuming loads of food, your body breaks it down into energy and in turn, gas is made in the stomach and intestines. To get rid of the excess gas that has now built up, your body resorts to exit strategies (hello burping), making you feel like a balloon that’s about to explode from all the pain and pressure. To counteract the situation, there are quite a few holistic remedies you can try, including chewing on organic ginger root or making a tea with it.

4. You Experience Heartburn

Heartburn is a funny term for something that doesn’t actually have something to do with the heart. Used interchangeably with acid reflux, it is a burning sensation that occurs when digestive acid in the stomach makes its way toward the oesophagus, typically as a result of too full a stomach and high-fat meals. To alleviate the issue, stir 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into 1/2 cup of water to promote digestive relief.

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