We need a specific amount of food to live. Our bodies crave a specific number of nutrients, and in order to get those nutrients we have to eat food each and every day, multiple times a day.
But it is also possible to overeat, and the consequences of overeating can be substantial, both before – and after – weight loss surgery.
The Short Term Effects of Overeating
Overeating is one of the main causes of obesity. Foods provide the body with energy. That energy comes in the form of calories. Your body has a limit to how many calories it can burn per day. If you exceed that limit, your body reacts by storing that excess energy as fat.
There was a time in human history when fat storage was crucial for survival. But now that we have nearly unlimited access to food, that fat storage can quickly become a serious problem. Overeating is the leading cause of weight gain, and continuous overeating may lead to the development of obesity.
However, overeating can also come with other risks. These include:
- Digestive Distress – Your stomach is used to a specific amount of food. Overeating may overwhelm the stomach and cause bloating, gas, and more. Stomach ache from overeating is one of the most common symptoms.
- Acid Reflux – Similarly, your stomach only has a limited amount of space. If it runs out of space for food, it may cause your stomach acids to push back up into your esophagus and into the throat. Frequent acid reflux can damage the esophagus and cause long term health consequences.
- Energy Crash – Some foods provide a rush of energy. But when that energy goes away, you may experience a “Crash.” That crash can leave you feeling sluggish, tired, and cloudy.
In addition, many people experience shame and depression after overeating. This is especially true if the overeating happens often.
Long Term Effects of Overeating
The long term effects of overeating are even more serious. Frequent overeating can lead to numerous health consequences, including:
- Heart Disease
- Increased Risk of Cancer
- Sleep Apnea
- Weakened Immune System
- Weight Gain and Obesity
- Increased Risk of Stroke
Obesity may also lead to enlarged liver, gallbladder disease, and an increased risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Overeating Becomes More Dangerous After Weight Loss Surgery
For those that overeat often, obesity is a common concern. One of the best treatments for severe obesity is known as bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery). Weight loss surgery is extremely effective. But it is not a magic cure. It is still important that you maintain a healthy diet after your surgery.
It is also important to avoid overeating. Overeating after weight loss surgery can be dangerous. Dangers of overeating after bariatric surgery include:
- Stomach Stretching – Overeating after gastric sleeve surgery and overeating after gastric bypass can both lead to stomach stretching. Both surgeries shrink the size of your stomach. But your stomach can stretch when it is filled with food. Frequent overeating may cause your stomach to permanently enlarge. If it does, you may find yourself able to eat more, and the weight may come back.
- Dumping Syndrome – Overeating after gastric bypass can also cause “dumping syndrome.” Dumping syndrome is when large chunks of food get “dumped” into the small intestine before being digested. Symptoms include uncomfortable abdominal cramps, gas dizziness, sweating, diarrhea, and possible fainting.
- Acid Reflux/GERD – Acid reflux becomes even more common after bariatric surgery. Your smaller stomach is designed for smaller portions. If you overeat, the excess food may not fit in the stomach and can get pushed up to the throat. There have also been news articles about choking caused by overeating after bariatric surgery.
In addition, overeating can cause the weight (and the weight related diseases) to quickly come back.
The Importance of Portion Control
Portion control is important, with or without bariatric surgery. For those that struggle with overeating, you may want to consider nutritional counseling, therapy, or bariatric surgery. If you have already had bariatric surgery and feel tempted to overeat, consider speaking to your nutritional consultant right away to stop some of the dangers.