What happens when you overeat?
Everyone overeats once in a while. You may have feasted during a celebration or holiday season. Or you may have felt stressed and inhaled a whole bag of chips. One night of binge eating might make you feel sick, but overeating once in a while isn’t going to ruin your health.
The average adult stomach holds about 1 liter (about 4 cups) of food. But since it’s very elastic, it’s able to stretch and hold as much as 3 liters to 4 liters at one time.
Your stomach may be full, but it takes your brain about 20 minutes to register that it’s time to stop. But you may already have eaten beyond that amount and instead feel bloated.
What to eat after binge eating
Here are some ways to help you feel less bloated and regain nutrients after a night of binge eating:
Drink lots of water
If you ate food that’s high in salt and sugar or drank a lot of alcohol, you should drink lots of water the next day. Aim for at least 2 liters or more. Water can help reduce bloating and aid digestion.
Don’t gulp down the water. This may make you feel even more full. Sip the water instead.
Probiotics are microorganisms that can help digestion and absorption of food. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like:
- Sourdough bread
Brew some ginger tea by boiling fresh ginger in water for 5 minutes. You can sweeten it with honey.
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin help enzymes in your body break down fats. Bacteria in your gut produce some riboflavin but not enough, so you need to eat foods that contain riboflavin.
You can find riboflavin in foods like:
- Fortified breads and cereals
While drinking green tea is good for you, be careful with green tea extract powder. High doses of green tea extract may cause liver damage.
A high-protein breakfast may help you reduce your appetite later. A small study found that those who had extra protein at breakfast had reduced appetite and lower blood sugar levels later in the day.
Your body takes a long time to digest protein so a high-protein meal may help prevent cravings and keep you feeling full for longer. Try Greek yogurt or a vegetable omelet for breakfast. High-protein snacks include string cheese, nuts, and hummus.
Many detox diets involve drinking juices. Juices are low in B vitamins, complex carbohydrates, and proteins. These are the nutrients that your body needs after a lot of alcohol. Detox diets also tend to be low in fiber and high in sugar, which can cause your blood sugar to spike.
Avoid fizzy drinks
Should you fast after binge eating?
Fasting may lead you to overeat. When you eat when you’re starving, you tend to crave foods that aren’t good for you and overeat.
Managing stress eating
If you binge eat due to stress, try these tips:
- Try mindful eating. Your snack craving may be due to stress. Instead of reaching for that snack immediately, wait for a few minutes. Ask yourself, are you really hungry?
- Look for healthy snacks. Try to find a lower-fat and lower-calorie snack, such as apples with nut butter.
- Check for portion size. Don’t take the whole bag of chips, instead pour some onto a plate. Check the package to find out what a serving size is and try to stick to it.
When to see a doctor
If you binge eat at least once a week for three months and have at least three of these symptoms while binge eating, you may have binge eating disorder. These symptoms are:
- Eat large amounts when you’re not hungry.
- Eat faster than normal.
- Eat until you feel uncomfortably full.
- Feel depressed, guilty, or disgusted after you binge eat.
- Eat alone because you feel embarrassed.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Harvard Health Publishing: "How to get more probiotics."
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Riboflavin – Vitamin B2."
Houston Methodist: "Is a Detox Diet What You Need After a Weekend Binge?"
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Tips to Manage Stress Eating."
International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine: "The effect of green tea intake on risk of liver disease: a meta analysis."
Journal of Dairy Science: "Effect of milk protein intake and casein-to-whey ratio in breakfast meals on postprandial glucose, satiety ratings, and subsequent meal intake."
Journal of Medicinal Plants Research: "Ginger (Zingiber officinale): A review."
Michigan Health: "4 Ways to Stop Digestive Discomfort After a Supersized Meal."
Piedmont Healthcare: "What happens to your body when you overeat?"
Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology: "The safety of green tea and green tea extract consumption in adults – Results of a systematic review."
Wexner Medical Center: "5 tips to recover from a food binge."
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