Eating too much on a regular basis can cause side effects both long- and short-term.
Digestive stress can interfere with sleep and exercise, and cause unpleasant symptoms like heartburn.
Overeating can also lead to bloat, weight gain, and fatigue over time.
Part of a healthy diet is deciding not just what to eat, but how much, according to Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of "Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table."
Eating more than your digestive system can handle, and more than you need for daily energy, can have side effects. beyond just weight, although you can put on pounds over time, she told Insider
It can also disrupt how you feel and your ability to keep up with your everyday routine, and you may not always be aware you're doing it.
"It's about being in touch with your sense of fullness," Taub-Dix said. "It sounds like it would be so obvious, but it isn't. A lot of times we're busy, doing simultaneous activities while we eat."
It may be time to slow down or opt for smaller portions at mealtimes if you're starting to notice discomfort or excessive fatigue after eating, or trouble with digestion, exercise, and sleep, she said.
You may gain weight if you're routinely overeating
Weight gain isn't inherently negative, and it can be influenced by a variety of factors both in lifestyle and outside a person's control, including genetics, medications and medical conditions.
A calorie surplus, eating more than you burn off in daily activities, will cause weight gain over time.
If you're gaining weight and don't want to be, it can be helpful to evaluate your eating patterns, according Taub-Dix.
"It really depends if it's one meal or a habit," she said.
One meal or so-called "cheat day" won't cause weight gain or mess up a diet — Taub-Dix doesn't even use the term "cheat," since an indulgent meal should be something you enjoy, not a source of guilt or negative associations, she said. However, consistently consuming more calories than you planned to can add up.
Feeling bloating or pain after eating can be a sign you've had too much
A telltale sign of overeating is bloating, feeling uncomfortable or even painfully full, according to Taub-Dix. You may even notice your clothing (temporarily) feels tighter after a big meal.
Eating to the point of discomfort can often be the result of eating too quickly or while distracted, she said. Noticing when you feel satiated can take time and attention.
Slowing down or pausing during a meal can help you assess whether you're still hungry and should eat more or if it's time to stop.
"Take a break to think of the sensations of the food you're eating, including the flavors and textures," Taub-Dix said.
Feeling low energy or sluggish, especially after meals, can be a side effect of overeating
It's normal for most people to have some fluctuations in energy throughout the day, but if you notice you're usually exhausted after a meal, that may be a red flag, according to Taub-Dix.
Digestion takes a lot of energy, which can leave you feeling foggy and lethargic, particularly if you've over-indulged.
If you notice you're typically tired at a certain point of day, it can also be helpful to reconsider your eating patterns around that time.
Habits like going too long without a snack or skipping breakfast may also mess with your energy and cause you to overeat later in the day, Taub-Dix previously told Insider.
Eating too much can make it harder to exercise
If you want to get fitter, build muscle, and gain strength, you need to eat enough to fuel your body. However, eating too much or too soon before exercise can interfere with your performance.
When you're digesting a lot of food, your body has fewer resources to go towards powering your heart and other muscles. As a result, you may have lower energy or even feel cramps if you're working out and raising your heart rate on a full stomach.
To help prevent snacks and meals from disrupting exercise, stick to smaller portions leading up to a workout and focus on quick-digesting carbohydrates such as fruit.
Difficulty sleeping at night could be from eating too much or too close to bedtime.
Despite feeling tired after a big meal, digestion can interfere with your ability to get quality sleep, particularly if you're eating too late in the evening, according to Taub-Dix.
Other symptoms of overeating like bloating can make you too uncomfortable to sleep well, too.
Eat earlier, if possible, have a lighter dinner or, if you're hungry at bedtime, stick to a small, easy to digest snack.
Eating too much or too fast can increase risk of acid reflux.
Another potential consequence of overeating is a higher risk of digestion issues like acid reflux and heartburn, particularly over time, according to Taub-Dix.
Normally, stomach acid stays in your stomach to help digest your food, but sometimes, it can flow back up into the esophagus, causing a painful sensation.
Eating a large meal can increase the odds of acid reflux by putting more pressure on your digestive system.
To prevent it, avoid distractions while you eat, Taub-Dix said. It can be tempting to have dinner or snacks while watching TV, or eat lunch while checking emails during the workday, but it's a path to eating too much, too quickly.
"Take the time to be mindful and appreciate your food," Taub-Dix said.
Read the original article on Insider