It’s easy to overeat.
It’s so easy that most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it.
We get caught up in the moment, enjoying the taste of our food and not paying attention to how much we’re eating. Before we know it, we’ve overeaten and feel uncomfortably full.
We also eat when we’re not hungry. Sometimes it’s because we’re bored. Sometimes it’s to counteract another feeling like sadness or anxiety. And sometimes, we eat just because food is in front of us.
This probably isn’t surprising news – eating is an enjoyable activity. We typically seek out pleasurable activities, and delicious food pleases us.
Unfortunately, overeating has health consequences that seriously affect our well-being and longevity.
Overeating and Overweight
The relationship between habitually overeating and being overweight might seem obvious: if you overeat, you’ll gain weight. But the truth is a bit more complicated.
It might have more to do with what you eat rather than how much you eat.
The basic idea of comparing “calories eaten” with “calories used” ignores the fact that not all calories are the same. Different types of food have different effects on your body.
While overeating carbohydrates and fats can lead to increased fat mass, eating proteins may not have the same effect or could even have the opposite effect.
Eating large amounts of fresh fruits or steamed vegetables likely won’t make you overweight, but that’s not usually what people think of when the word “overeating” comes to mind.
It’s much easier to overindulge in fattening foods like hamburgers, french fries, and tasty pastries – and this overeating will likely cause you to gain weight.
Obesity and Chronic Diseases
Excess weight and obesity are common problems, but it’s not the final conclusion of overeating. Once your overeating has led to weight gain, the extra weight increases your risk for other diseases.
Obesity is likely to cause or worsen many chronic conditions, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Movement disabilities
- Gallbladder disease
- Liver disease
- Sleep disorders
- Infectious diseases
Multiple large-scale studies have confirmed a significant association between elevated BMI and cancer. The Million Women Study, for example, revealed a substantial increase in risk for 10 of the 17 most common cancers:
- endometrial cancer
- adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
- multiple myeloma
- kidney cancer
- pancreatic cancer
- breast cancer
- non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- ovarian cancer
- colorectal cancer
- All types of cancers
Overeating can also affect your mental and emotional health.
Obesity might increase the risks of cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disease (dementia and Alzheimer’s disease).
Overeating and obesity are often entangled with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
If you are struggling with overeating, consider talking to a nutritionist or getting help from a mental health therapist. The sooner you solve this overeating problem, the better you can prevent or relieve your other health issues.