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Tips to Settle Your Stomach After Overeating

April 24, 2023

That extra helping of your aunt’s famous enchiladas seemed like such a good idea. But now you’re drowsy, cranky and wishing you wore stretchy pants to the family reunion. Do you have to suffer the consequences, or is there anything you can do now to settle your stomach after overeating?

Bariatric expert Taslima Shaikh, MD, who practices in Hartford HealthCare’s Farmington, Southington and Meriden locations, shares tips.

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Do this right away to settle your stomach after overeating.

  • Drink water. This helps decrease the excess salt you might have ingested.
  • Try herbal tea. In particular, peppermint, chamomile and ginger tea can help reduce gas.
  • Take a walk or stroll. Gentle exercise — emphasis on gentle — helps stimulate digestion. But this is not the time for circuit training, so leave the kettlebells where they are. More on that below.

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If you’re trying to settle your stomach after overeating, do NOT do this.

  • Don’t start a heavy workout. You can burn off those extra calories ASAP with a high-intensity workout, right? Wrong. “A heavy workout right after eating may actually slow down digestion, by pulling the bloodstream to your active muscles instead of the GI system, where it needs blood flow to aid in digestion,” says Dr. Shaikh.
  • Don’t lay down right away. It’s amazing how inviting your couch looks after a feast. Resist the urge. Lying down right after eating might lead to food regurgitating back up and can lead to acid reflux symptoms.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages. The gas in these drinks may actually make you feel more bloated.

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To prevent overeating in the first place, try this.

Before you eat:

  • Plan ahead. “Do some meal planning with appropriate portion sizes,” says Dr. Shaikh.
  • Avoid salty foods. Salty foods often lead to a desire for sweet foods after. But you already knew that.
  • Focus on fiber. Calling all veggies! They take awhile to eat, and they’re good for you.
  • Limit alcohol. Drinking alcohol affects your senses and your decision-making. No surprise, then, that it can also contribute to overeating.

While you’re eating:

  • Slow down. If you’re speeding down the highway, you’re more likely to miss your exit. If you eat too fast, you may miss your body’s cues that you’re full. “Slowing down and chewing your food properly can help slow down the chance of overeating,” says Dr. Shaikh.

In general:

  • Pay attention to when and why you eat. “Eat mindfully,” says Dr. Shaikh. “Know what triggers your eating and motivates your hunger.” Hint: Stress often plays a role, because it can actually override your hunger and fullness hormones.
  • Don’t deprive yourself out of fear of overeating. That fear can lead to an unhealthy pattern of restriction then binging, which can be a sign of an eating disorder.

> Related: 6 Reasons Why Your Stomach Hurts After Eating

Know when to ask for help.

Lots of people overeat on occasion, and here in the U.S., we practically dedicate entire holidays to it. But if it’s a regular part of your life, it can lead to serious health issues like obesity and eating disorders.

If you’re experiencing guilt, shame or other issues around overeating, talk to your healthcare team. “We can help you develop a healthy relationship with food,” says Dr. Shaikh.