We are constantly told the dangers of overeating, yet when it comes to the festive season, there is food everywhere, and the message seems to be that it’s OK to overindulge. While it’s fine to treat yourself, binge eating can be harmful, and has a range of effects on our body. In the short-term, you can suffer a nasty dose of gastric distress, which can include indigestion, heartburn, constipation, or diarrhoea, none of which are serious on their own, but can lead to bigger issues. In the long-term you risk weight gain leading to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. In fact, overeating can trigger a heart attack. Speak to a cardiologist in Perth, WA, and they’ll tell you that Christmas is a busy time for them, with the stress of overeating causing heart problems. Therefore, it’s important to look for ways to avoid overeating, while still enjoying the festive fun.

Why is overeating harmful?

There are many things that can put stress on the body, from high-impact exercise to emotion, and binge eating has a similar effect. This is because eating a big meal means your body releases norepinephrine, a stress hormone, and you’ll notice when you eat a lot you can feel your heart rate rising. This increase in blood pressure can then lead to a heart attack.

The other reason why Christmas binge eating is so harmful is because you’re eating a lot of fat and high-carb meals. From mince pies to Christmas hams, the festive season is full of foods that people with heart problems should only enjoy in moderation. Fatty and high-carb foods raise your triglyceride levels, which your Perth cardiologist may be monitoring, as high levels can be harmful to the heart. These levels then remain high, and if you pile some alcohol on top of that food, you’re even more at risk.

Long-term effects

Binge eating makes it easy to eat too many calories, and as you get older, it’s easier to gain weight. One of the first things a cardiologist in WA will do is weigh you, as added weight can put so much extra pressure on your heart, and even a couple of weeks of binge eating over Christmas can take you into the dangerous overweight zone.

The weight gain associated with binge eating raises your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. What most people don’t realise is that diabetes raises your risk of heart disease too, and so again you are putting strain on your body.

Avoiding overeating

There are ways you can enjoy the festive season without overindulging. Here are a few tips.

Practice portion control

There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your favourite foods at Christmas, but portion control is everything. Your Perth cardiologists will be able to give you advice on your diet, but ultimately carrying out portion control will help reduce the impact on your body. You can do this by:

  • Checking labels to find out the recommended portion size
  • Weigh everything you eat if possible – it’s easy to underestimate what you’re eating
  • Use your hand as a guide – carb portions should be the size of a clenched fist, while meat portions should be the size of your palm
  • Keeping track of what you eat on an app or food diary

Drink water

Water helps you feel full, and taking sips between bites means you slow down, making you less likely to over indulge.

Be careful at the buffet

Buffets are often a feature at parties during Christmas, and it’s easy to eat hundreds of calories on one plate. Head for the salad and vegetables first, making up the majority of your plate, then add some lean meat or seafood. Go easy on the bread, pastries, and cheeses. Experts who work in WA cardiology agree that keeping a healthy diet during Christmas can help avoid damage to your heart, and it’s especially important at parties where you may already be drinking.

Avoid eating late at night

When you’re at a party, it’s tempting to graze, and if you’ve been drinking you might want to treat yourself to a snack on the way home. However, there’s evidence that eating late at night could be bad for you. It has been suggested by cardiologists in Perth and around the world that your body is better at processing the triglycerides from fat in your bloodstream while you’re still active. Not to mention the fact that eating a big meal and then going to bed is a recipe for heartburn and discomfort.

Don’t go back for seconds

Avoid having big serving dishes full of food on the table. It’s easy to go back for seconds, or thirds. Serve your meal, and then wrap up any leftovers for later. If you think you’ll be too tempted to indulge on leftovers, throw them away. It’s better to be a little wasteful than to get ill.

Avoid saturated fats and sugars

Saturated fats can be in a surprising amount of foods, even seemingly healthy dips and sauces. Always check labels, and consider speaking to a cardiologist in Perth to discuss your diet and how it can be improved. If you aren’t sure about the fat or sugar content of a certain type of food, then eat it in very small quantities. Remember that alcohol can be full of sugar too. Wine, beer, and especially festive liquors can be very sweet, meaning they have the potential to cause excess weight and fluctuating blood sugar.

Whether you’re already suffering from a heart condition, or are simply worried about your health, there’s no reason not to enjoy the Christmas period. By carrying out strict portion control, and going easy on the alcohol, you can avoid the festive weight gain that can lead to serious problems. You can still enjoy seeing family and socialising without overindulging, and this also means you don’t have to deal with heartburn, hangovers, and the other negatives of the party season.