We have again entered the most magical time of the year, where people have classically gathered together in the short, cold days of the winter, giving cheer and fellowship to others as they looked forward to the warmth and sunshine of the near future. We give to others, we practice gratitude, and we make sure to brighten up the dark nights with twinkling lights, sacred music, and scents of the most delicious foods and deserts. The food this time of year is always the best, isn’t it? I remember being a child and watching my family heap piles of yumminess onto their plates, only to later painfully waddle off to the living room to discretely (or not!) unbutton the top button of their pants so they could sit, unrestricted, in the living room and doze off as their bodies tried to process all that holiday goodness.

Whether you plan to cook a large meal for a small group of loved ones this year, or simply do something casually for only you and your partner, over-eating doesn’t have to be on the menu. There are many reasons why dropping this one bad habit might be the healthiest choice you make this holiday season. I’ll get into those reasons in this blog post.

If we want to talk about overeating, we first have to look at the stomach and understand what it’s designed to do. Your stomach is, basically, a small sack that is meant to hold your meal temporarily. It’s roughly the size of your fist, and ideally should only hold about two and a half ounces of food in it at a time. The stomach can expand to hold about a quart of food, but the more you put in, the more you disrupt the stomach in its basic function.

The stomach is unique in that it secretes digestive enzymes, most notably hydrochloric acid (HCl). HCl breaks down proteins so that once your food reaches your intestines, that turkey you ate is now in smaller, more manageable particles that can be absorbed by your body through a healthy intestinal wall, and eventually used by your body to rebuild and repair (I want to add here that not everyone has a healthy intestinal wall or the proper amount of HCl to complete this task, but that is a topic for another day). HCl is also, on a side note, meant to acid-wash any parasites or disease that lingers on the food you eat, protecting you from taking on any internal scavengers that will use you for their own benefit.

When you overeat and overfill your little sack, you begin to disrupt this process. The stomach churns your food, rolling it around to give it a thorough dose of digestive enzymes and HCl. This breaks down the cellular membranes of the food and also gives it that proper sterilization before it moves on into your intestines. However, overeating limits the stomach’s room to churn and move, which means not everything is getting broken down, and parasites can hide and never get dealt with. Suddenly, what should be an easy two to four-hour process becomes a sluggish eight-hour exercise in futility. Exhausted, your stomach will finally move that undigested food into your intestines, where it will now rot, ferment, and create a host of issues that can include inflammation, leaky gut, gas and bloating, and an unhealthy microbiome.

Overeating can also create problems in your esophagus. The stomach has a door in, and a door out. These are called sphincters. When you eat, the stomach will close the esophageal sphincter tightly so that none of the HCl will escape and accidentally burn the esophagus, causing acid reflux. With chronic overeating, that muscle becomes weaker because you force that door open too often. I currently know of a woman with Barrett’s Esophagus (the lining is so badly damaged from acid that she is now “pre-cancerous”), and she is scheduled for surgery. I can assure you that this is not the outcome you want to deal with someday!

So, we’ve determined that by overeating, you risk your esophageal health, your intestinal health, and you allow parasites an easier entry into your body. What else can happen? Well, since this is just a quick blog post, I’ll keep it brief. By compromising your intestinal health, you open yourself up to chronic inflammation, gout, arthritis, weight gain, a compromised immune system/autoimmune issues, yeast overgrowth, an acidic pH balance (even if you eat alkaline foods, overeating and not allowing them to digest properly will putrefy them in your intestines and turn them acidic), and toxicity issues. A healthy gut is your superpower! It’s your way of allowing your body to operate optimally, and if you compromise that system by hindering your stomach (the first step in the process), then you’ve already lost that battle.

So, be of good cheer this holiday season. Enjoy your food, but don’t over-do it. Try not to drink liquids while you eat (it dilutes stomach acids), breathe, chew mindfully long enough to liquify your food, and know that it takes twenty minutes for your belly to signal to your brain that you’ve had enough. Not only will you taste and enjoy your favorite foods more thoroughly, but this will also allow your body to truly appreciate and use that food to keep you energized, healthy, and ready to rock through the holiday nights with those you love.

I wish you all a warm and loving holiday season!

Learn more on how you can support your own healing.



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