How to Overcome Festive Overeating
NOW THAT WE ARE ABOUT HALFWAY into the 15-day festivities of Chinese New Year, chances are that your body has had its fair share of food. Festive parties and gatherings are common overeating traps, with friends and family asking you to "try this!" or to "eat more!" If you have had one too many treats, you probably feel less than stellar and in need of a reset.
Were you overeating?
Firstly, it's important to recognize the difference between overeating and feeling full. According to Dr. Shanker Pasupathy, a surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital Singapore, there is no real "tipping point". Anyone can eat continuously for hours when seated at a table. Getting up to walk around can help you get a better sense of how full you really feel. The most common problems associated with overeating are indigestion and bloating.
Have you felt 100% satisfied but still continued eating? Or have you realized that you've stopped appreciating every mouthful of food? If your answer is yes, you're most likely overeating. Experts believe that the first few bites of food provide the most pleasure. Beyond that, you are mindlessly putting food into your mouth and losing sight of your actual appetite. Registered dietitian Keri Gans suggests that the best time to put your fork down is when you feel about 80% full.
What happens to your body when you overeat?
Our stomachs are a muscular bag that sits inside the abdomen and is usually no bigger than a fist when empty. It has, however, the capacity to expand and accommodate a much larger volume. The specialized muscle expands as the stomach fills, producing acid to help break food down and churning to smash up food. While the "full" volume of the stomach is about 800 to 1,000 ml, this is increased in people who are obese and binge eat.
When you overeat, the food can either go further into the digestive system or back where it came from in the form of vomiting. Your liver also has to work overtime to convert the food into nutrients that your body is able to absorb. Overeating causes indigestion, when the stomach acid churns up into the oesophagus. And while the stomach is used to this acid, the oesophagus isn't, which is why acid reflux burns. You will also feel tired and drowsy because the body has to divert its energy to digesting the food.
Eating too fast also heightens the risk of bloating because you swallow air along with all that delicious festive food. It usually takes up to 20 minutes for the feelings of fullness to reach your brain and tamp down hunger, so slow down, take breaks and say no to seconds.
Practical Remedies for Overeating
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physician Neo Min Jun of Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic offers some herbal remedies for digestive issues you may encounter. For example, if you have overindulged in oily food or meat, go for some hawthorn oolong tea. The acid in hawthorn will aid in quicker digestion. However, since hawthorn promotes blood circulation, this tea is not recommended for pregnant ladies. If you're vomiting due to overeating, a ginger-orange peel tea is a better remedy. Fresh ginger will help enhance qi (vital energy) circulation to relieve vomiting and indigestion. The orange peel helps reduce muscle spasms in the stomach and small intestine. Head over here for other herbal tea remedies.
If you're not one for herbal remedies or crash diets, there are gentler ways to help your body get back on track. Try beginning each day with warm lemon water. This will alkalize your body, rev up your metabolism and curb your cravings throughout the day. It is also important to keep hydrated throughout the day - the water will help your liver and kidney filter out toxins. And while it is tempting to eat less after a night of overindulgence, opt for a plant-based meal instead. Fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins will provide you with the much-needed nourishment without you going overboard.
Beat the bloat
Our discomfort from bloating can be due to eating in a rush or stressed state. As such, deep breathing or yoga can calm you down, alleviate stress and help fully oxygenate the lungs. This ensures more fresh blood circulates to the digestive system, reducing bloating and gas. Others suggest a morning elixir of lemon and apple cider vinegar. The vinegar acts as a probiotic rich in enzymes that aids digestion and will rehydrate you if you take it upon waking. The alkaline-rich lemons will also correct your body's pH level and help start the process of cleansing.
Ditch the guilt
After overeating, your first instinct might be to feel guilty. The festive season is as a good a time as any to practice patience, compassion and kindness. This includes fighting the urge to criticize yourself. Most of us are guilty of eating one-too-many New Year treats. Feeling guilty or using exercise as punishment is known to increase your risk of binge eating. Instead, try incorporating daily workouts that don't feel like a chore. This will make it easy to keep up with them during busy or festive periods. Keep in mind that moderation and consistency is key to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Lastly, focus your attention on spending quality time with your family and friends, instead of the food and drinks surrounding the New Year season.
WE HOPE YOU FIND these tips useful and feel better soon!