Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

What Happens To Your Body When You Binge Eat?

With people stuck at home these days, binge eating is becoming more of a problem than ever. Emotional eating is likely at an all time high due to the effects of the stressful situation at hand since people don’t know what to expect in the near future.  


Then there is simply the matter of people being bored with not much to get excited about. So, they turn to food.  


What happens when we binge eat though? We’ll gain weight for sure and then to turn it around we need to be cutting calories, but what happens to our body before that? 


In this article, I will go over some of the ways our body responds to what happens when we binge eat.  


Dopamine release 


Dopamine is that feel good hormone that washes over our brain. It is essentially the reason we binge eat as it gives us pleasure when we satisfy that craving. At least in the near term.  


When we crave that hit of dopamine, we start eating. Then the feeling hits and we don’t want to stop. It creates a vicious cycle in which we end up taking in far more calories and fat then if we ate a meal when we were hungry or had it scheduled. And sugary, fatty foods are more likely to trigger the dopamine. 


Stomach stretches 


Your stomach has the ability to stretch about a gallon when you fill it with food and liquids. This gives you the literal sensation of bursting at the seams when you finally push away from the table. 


If you binge eat with regularity, your stomach will take time going back to its old size and can give you that proverbial pot belly. 


Later on, it will be difficult to feel full which will create another cycle in which you binge eat to fill up your stomach. Which happens more frequently as you’ll feel hungry more often. 


The body’s ability to know when your stomach is full is impacted as well. The signal sent to the brain telling it that you are done eating becomes more difficult to be received. 


Blood sugar spikes and drops 


When you binge eat, it is typically carb heavy and also full of sugar since you get more dopamine from these types of foods. Your pancreas then goes into overdrive to process all the sugar that food just put into your system.  


At the same time, your body is producing insulin until your brain decides that your sugar levels are back to normal. Then the crash comes. All that dopamine you enjoyed earlier is nowhere to be found and you end up feeling depressed and worse than you felt before. 


Sleep patterns are disrupted 


Your body clock telling you when to eat and when to sleep gets totally thrown off when you end up overeating because of the dramatic shifts in insulin and dopamine.  


When your clock is off, then you are likely going to bed later and having trouble staying asleep. You then wake up cranky and have trouble getting your day going. Until you overeat again and the cycle continues.   

Photo by AndriyKo Podilnyk on Unsplash