Overeating can cause indigestion, heartburn, abdominal bloating and general discomfort. If you have certain health conditions or if you overindulge on certain foods, you may also experience diarrhea. Since bowel changes can indicate potentially serious health conditions, any diarrhea that persists or recurs should be brought to the attention of your physician.
Too Much Fiber
Dietary fiber is a healthy and important part of your diet, but if you don't eat much dietary fiber, you should gradually include it in your daily diet. Suddenly eating large amounts of fiber can cause temporary bloating and diarrhea. Giving a child large amounts of fruit or fruit juice can also cause diarrhea. If you have a gastrointestinal virus that causes diarrhea, cut down on the amount of fiber that you eat for a day or two and stick to easily digested, bland foods.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome, also called IBS, causes diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramping and excess gas. Overindulging in fatty or greasy foods can exacerbate symptoms. Some people with IBS find that they cannot eat large amounts of other foods, such as chocolate or beverages containing caffeine, or else they will develop diarrhea. Keep a food diary to help you pinpoint what amounts of which foods make your diarrhea worse. Talk to your doctor about other ways to keep your symptoms under control.
Lactose intolerance means that you don't have lactase, the enzyme necessary for digesting the sugars in milk and milk products. Many people with lactose intolerance can eat a small amount of lactose, but overeating ice cream, milk and other dairy products can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea. To avoid this type of diarrhea, don't overindulge in dairy products. Some people cannot tolerate any lactose; if this is the case, switch to lactose-free milk. You might also find relief in taking synthetic enzymes to help you digest the lactose in your diet.
If a particular food seems to cause diarrhea when eaten in excess, eliminate it from your diet for a few days. Gradually re-introduce the food and eat moderate amounts of it. If you overeat, you may also suffer from heartburn. If you take antacids to relieve your heartburn pain, they can cause diarrhea. Prevent heartburn by eating smaller meals, avoiding greasy foods that tend to cause heartburn and avoiding tight clothing. If you do get heartburn and antacids give you diarrhea, talk to your doctor about other remedies to try.
Is This an Emergency?
- FamilyDoctor.org; Heartburn; July 2010
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; What I Need to Know About Irritable Bowel Syndrome; May 2007
- TeensHealth; Lactose Intolerance; J. Fernando del Rosario, M.D.; November 2009
- MedlinePlus; Diarrhea in Children; Neil K. Kaneshiro, M.D.; Nov. 2, 2009