This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Overeat During the Holidays

Overeating over the holidays is basically part of our culture. We gorge at Thanksgiving, eat office party food through December, then guzzle champagne before signing up for that New Year’s gym membership. But hoovering all that seasonal grub does more damage to your body than you realize. (Yes, it does more than just tip the scale.) Here’s what happens to your body when you overeat during the holidays.

Your heart is at risk

Romantic dinner setting

Who knew stuffing yourself could harm your ticker? | iStock.com/kieferpix

Perhaps the scariest side effect of overeating is how much it hurts your cardiovascular health. Scarfing down those multiple helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy raises your blood pressure and adds triglycerides — a kind of fat — into your blood stream. The heightened triglycerides make your blood thicker, and put your heart at risk for many problems. Plus, indulging on all that fatty food adds bulk to your waistline, which is also heavily connected to heart disease.

Blood sugar shoots up

Halloween cookies

Don’t overdo it on the Halloween cookies. | iStock.com/haveseen

All those crescent rolls and sugar cookies are doing more to your body than just adding pounds. When you overeat, your blood sugar┬árises. While the occasional food binge won’t hurt you too much, regular overeating and not exercising over the holidays can make blood sugar go through the roof. Blood sugar that’s consistently high can put you at risk for diabetes.

Insulin levels spike

Whole turkey on table with sweet potato pie and mashed potatoes.

Is all that turkey worth diabetes? | iStock.com

High levels of blood sugar cause your pancreas to produce extra insulin. The elevated levels make your body develop a resistance to insulin, which becomes an even bigger problem as blood sugar drops back down. Livestrong.com explains that this can lead to hypoglyemia, an acute problem in diabetes. (Makes you rethink going overboard on all those sugary holiday desserts, doesn’t it?)

Your stomach and throat will scream out in pain

Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving

Another serving of pie may cause you pain. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Everyone has experienced that awful stomach pain after eating that second plate of Thanksgiving dinner, right? That’s because all that food over-stuffs your stomach to the point that the walls stretch. To make matters worse, your stomach takes longer to digest extra fatty foods — which basically makes up for everything you eat between Halloween and New Year’s Eve. Over-stuffing can also lead to always-uncomfortable acid reflux, Livestrong.com explains.

Sleep seems super appealing

Man sleep in bed.

There is such thing as a “food coma” … kind of. | iStock.com

The high-fat, high-sugar appetizers at this year’s office party are going to make you want to skip the festivities and take a nap. This is because that rise in blood sugar that we talked about earlier is followed by a swift sugar crash, leaving you sapped of energy and completely exhausted. The Huffington Post explains that the spike in sugar also messes with the neurons in your brain that make you feel awake. While we’re talking about the brain…

The brain gets hooked on junk food

Friends enjoying Christmas meal

It may be hard to go back to your regular eating habits post-holiday. | iStock.com

A standard over-the-top holiday meal packs in about the same amount of garbage as a fast-food meal, right? It also has all the added ingredients that your brain can become addicted to. It’s no wonder it takes people at least a couple weeks to revamp their daily food menu after the holidays — they’re brains are hooked on all the bad stuff!

Your waistline expands

A tight shot of Santa Claus

Yeah … thanks, Santa. | Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

This is a no-brainer, but has to be reiterated anyways. When you overeat, you tip the scale. And in addition to making none of your clothes fit right, the weight gain can lead to obesity. Obesity, of course, is linked to a plethora of health problems, such as sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers, just to name a few.