What is your current activity level?
🧍‍♂️Sedentary
🚶 Moderately active
🏃 Very active
This will help us personalize your experience
Blog
>

Can Overeating Cause Constipation?

Published on
Updated on
Can Overeating Cause Constipation?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Eating too much of certain foods can slow down your digestive system, causing your stool to become dry and hard to pass. 
  • All foods affect the digestive system in specific ways, making it sluggish or more efficient.
  • Eating enough fiber, managing portion sizes, staying hydrated, and getting regular exercise can help prevent constipation from overeating.

Overeating can be common, especially during the holidays or times of celebration.

However, eating too much may lead to several uncomfortable digestive tract symptoms, including constipation. 

Constipation is having three or fewer stools a week, having dry or hard-to-pass stools, or feeling like you can’t pass all your stool.

It’s often linked to inadequate fiber intake or being dehydrated.

This article explores how overeating may cause constipation and how you can improve symptoms by modifying your diet. 

{{splash}}

Can Overeating Cause Constipation?

Overeating certain foods can cause constipation.

Foods high in salt and processed items that are low in fiber are the main culprits.

People who are lactose intolerant or who have certain food sensitivities may also experience constipation when they eat those foods.

Eating large amounts of food without eating fiber or staying hydrated can lead to constipation.

It's important for your digestive health to eat balanced meals that include each food group. 

It’s important to note that many causes of constipation are unrelated to overeating.

Certain health conditions, medications, and lifestyle changes can also cause constipation. 

Food's Effect on the Digestive System

Digestion is the process of breaking down food into smaller nutrients your body can use.

Every single tissue in your body is made from building blocks such as proteins, fats, vitamins, carbohydrates, water, and essential minerals. 

Digestion starts in your mouth as you chew, and enzymes from your saliva start to break down the food.

When you swallow, peristalsis—a type of muscle contraction, moves food down to your stomach, where the food mixes with digestive enzymes and is churned before emptying into your small and then large intestines. 

Your digestive system releases certain hormones to aid in digestion.

The types of foods you eat determine which hormones your body releases.

Some hormones may slow your digestion, while others make it work more smoothly. 

Other factors that impact the efficiency of your digestion include your hydration and physical activity level. 

{{splash}}

How Overeating Can Lead to Constipation 

Overeating foods that slow digestion can cause an imbalance in your digestive system, making food travel sluggishly through the digestive tract. 

Food moving slowly through the digestive tract is a common cause of constipation.

This is because the longer a stool is in your intestines, the more fluid is absorbed out of the stool, making it harder to pass. 

Foods that may slow your digestion include:

  • White rice.
  • White bread.
  • Potatoes.
  • Pasta.
  • Meats, poultry, and fish.

Common Symptoms of Constipation

Common symptoms of constipation include:

  • Infrequent bowel movements: Having fewer than three bowel movements each week. 
  • Straining: Excessive straining while having a bowel movement.
  • Hard and dry stool: Having stools that are dry, lumpy, hard, and difficult to pass. 
  • The feeling of incomplete bowel movement: Feeling like you can’t fully evacuate your bowel. 

Some symptoms that people often associate with constipation, such as stomach pains, nausea, or loss of appetite, are not related to constipation but may be signs of an underlying condition.

Follow up with your doctor if you have any concerns.  

How to Know if You're Overeating

It’s important to know when you are overeating to understand the potential link between overeating and constipation. Here are several signs you may be overindulging:

  • Feeling stuffed: Feeling overly full or uncomfortable after eating a meal. 
  • Eating past fullness: Continuing to eat after you no longer feel hungry. 
  • Frequent snacking: Mindlessly eating throughout the day without considering portion sizes or hunger cues. 

Foods that Promote Regular Bowel Movements

To prevent constipation from overeating, it’s important to include foods in your diet that promote regular bowel movements.

Foods that are high in dietary fiber can help prevent constipation.

These high-fiber foods do this by helping ease the passage through your intestines and preventing sluggish digestion. 

Here are some high-fiber foods to include in your diet:

  • Whole grains:  Oat bran, whole wheat crackers, bulgar, spelt, whole-grain cereals, and whole wheat tortillas.
  • Fruits: Raspberries, blackberries, pears, apples, grapefruit, blueberries, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, dates, and cherries.
  • Vegetables: Beans, peas, lentils, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, avocados, collard greens, green beans, swiss chard, bell peppers, asparagus, and cabbage.
  • Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and flax seeds.

According to portion recommendations by My Plate, almost three-fourths of your plate should include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, all of which contain dietary fiber to help prevent constipation.

{{splash}}

Other Tips for Avoiding Constipation from Overeating

Other than ensuring you eat adequate amounts of fiber each meal, there are several other ways to prevent constipation from overeating.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is the act of being aware of your eating experience.

It begins when you first start thinking about your meal and extends through the meal preparation process and, finally, consuming your meal. 

Recognizing the difference between physical and emotional hunger cues is an important aspect of mindful eating.

This can help you determine whether your body needs food, which may prevent overeating.

It can also help you recognize when you are full and should stop eating.

Portion Control

Learning what portion sizes you should focus on eating depends on several factors, including your:

  • Height and weight.
  • Current age.
  • Gender.
  • Level of activity.
  • Metabolism.

{{local}}

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water and other fluids can prevent constipation by keeping your stools soft and easy to pass.

It’s also a good way to avoid dehydration and can improve your overall health. 

High-fluid items include:

  • Water.
  • Broths and soups.
  • Naturally sweetened fruit juice.
  • Naturally sweetened vegetable juice.

Like portion sizes, how much water you need depends on several personal factors. 

Get Regular Exercise

Getting regular exercise can also help prevent constipation.

Experts recommend adults get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

You can break your time up throughout the week but try to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Exercises you can do include:

  • Brisk walking.
  • Biking.
  • Swimming.
  • Dancing.
  • Chair aerobics.

Incorporating muscle-strengthening activities twice weekly into your schedule is also recommended for optimal health.

This may include lifting weights or working with resistance bands. 

{{splash}}

Takeaway

Overeating foods that cause your digestive system to be sluggish and missing dietary fiber can lead to constipation. 

Recognizing the symptoms of overeating, learning to balance your meals, and planning your portions are great ways to prevent constipation from overindulging. 

Several lifestyle changes, such as learning mindfulness eating, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly, can also help prevent constipation. 

How a Dietitian Can Help

Registered dietitians through Nourish can help you learn how to prevent constipation from overeating.

Through individualized counseling, you’ll learn which foods are beneficial for a healthy digestive system and keeping you regular.

They can also help you understand proper portion sizes based on your needs and health goals. 

Find a dietitian near you to start making dietary changes to keep you regular.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why am I constipated after overeating?

Constipation can occur after eating too much food and not enough fiber.

This combination can cause your digestive tract to become sluggish, making the stool dry and hard to pass.

Why do I get constipated when I eat more?

Overeating too much processed food, meats, or foods high in salt can slow your digestive system and cause constipation.

Should I keep eating if I’m constipated?

If you’re constipated, it’s important to eat foods high in dietary fiber, increase your fluid intake, and complete physical activity to help restore balance to your digestive system.

References

View all references
Nourish has strict sourcing policies and prioritizes primary sources, including medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about our medical review process and editorial guidelines.

See a Registered Dietitian with Nourish

  • Covered by insurance
  • Virtual sessions
  • Personalized care
Schedule an appointment

Frequently asked questions

No items found.
Text LinkText Link

Find a virtual dietitian in {State}

Find a dietitian near you

Covered by insurance.
Question 1

Are you more thirsty than usual?

Question 1

Are you urinating more than usual?

Question 1

Is your blood sugar level consistently high?

Question 1

Do you experience extreme hunger or fatigue?

Question 1

Do you have blurry vision or numbness and tingling in your hands and feet?

Question 1

Do you experience frequent infections or slow-healing wounds?

Question 1

Do you have a family history of diabetes?

Your Result

Your results are in!

While you don’t seem to be at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes based on this quiz, please contact your healthcare provider with any concerns. If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

Your Result

Your results are in!

You should seek guidance from your healthcare provider about the possibility of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Charleston
SC
South Carolina
32.7884363, -79.9399309
Paterson
NJ
New Jersey
40.916611, -74.172188
Palmdale
CA
California
34.576469, -118.116096
Lancaster
CA
California
34.697472, -118.144524
Murfreesboro
TN
Tennessee
35.845619, -86.390266
Santa Rosa
CA
California
38.547134, -122.816383
Eugene
OR
Oregon
44.052151, -123.091187
Shreveport
LA
Louisiana
32.523659, -93.763504
Clarksville
TN
Tennessee
36.527279, -87.360336
Cary
NC
North Carolina
35.7882893, -78.7812081
Salem
OR
Oregon
44.944099, -123.040283
Newport News
VA
Virginia
37.087082, -76.473015
Chattanooga
TN
Tennessee
35.0457219, -85.3094883
Akron
OH
Ohio
41.0842496, -81.6777863
Providence
RI
Rhode Island
41.823990, -71.412834
Tallahassee
FL
Florida
30.438255, -84.280731
Peoria
AZ
Arizona
33.7528919, -112.4902079
Sioux Falls
SD
South Dakota
43.536388, -96.731667
Yonkers
NY
New York
40.930790, -73.898293
Fayetteville
NC
North Carolina
35.052666, -78.878357
Rochester
NY
New York
43.156578, -77.608849
McKinney
TX
Texas
33.214561, -96.614456
Moreno Valley
CA
California
33.920891, -117.261162
Fremont
CA
California
37.548271, -121.988571
Frisco
TX
Texas
33.150673, -96.823608
Spokane
WA
Washington
47.658779, -117.426048
Boise
ID
Idaho
43.6008183, -116.2421086
Port St. Lucie
FL
Florida
27.273270, -80.342148
Irving
TX
Texas
32.814018, -96.948891
Winston-Salem
NC
North Carolina
36.096260, -80.243736
St. Petersburg
FL
Florida
27.773056, -82.639999
Laredo
TX
Texas
27.507130, -99.507500
Jersey City
NJ
New Jersey
,
Buffalo
NY
New York
42.8867166, -78.8783922
St. Louis
MO
Missouri
38.627003, -90.199402
Chandler
AZ
Arizona
33.3062031, -111.841185
Durham
NC
North Carolina
35.994034, -78.898621
Lincoln
NE
Nebraska
40.806862, -96.681679
Pittsburgh
PA
Pennsylvania
40.440624, -79.995888
Greensboro
NC
North Carolina
36.072701, -79.793900
St. Paul
MN
Minnesota
44.954445, -93.091301
Newark
NJ
New Jersey
40.735657, -74.172363
Lexington
KY
Kentucky
38.040585, -84.503716
Stockton
CA
California
37.957703, -121.290779
Honolulu
HI
Hawaii
21.306944, -157.858337
Cleveland
OH
Ohio
41.499321, -81.694359
Arlington
TX
Texas
32.7355816, -97.1071186
Oakland
CA
California
37.804363, -122.271111
Long Beach
CA
California
33.770050, -118.193741
Raleigh
NC
North Carolina
35.779591, -78.638176
Omaha
NE
Nebraska
41.256538, -95.934502
Colorado Springs
CO
Colorado
38.833881, -104.821365
Fresno
CA
California
36.737797, -119.787125
Albuquerque
NM
New Mexico
35.084385, -106.650421
Memphis
TN
Tennessee
35.117500, -89.971107
Washington DC
WA DC
Washington, DC
38.889805, -77.009056
Las Vegas
NV
Nevada
36.169941, -115.139832
Seattle
WA
Washington
47.606209, -122.332069
Charlotte
NC
North Carolina
35.2272086, -80.8430827
Sacramento
CA
California
38.590576, -121.489906
Richmond
VA
Virginia
37.540726, -77.436050
Surprise
AZ
Arizona
33.629002, -112.330170
Mesa
AZ
Arizona
33.415184, -111.831474
Louisville
KY
Kentucky
38.252666, -85.758453
Des Moines
IA
Iowa
41.586834, -93.624962
Lakewood
CO
Colorado
39.704708, -105.081375
Kansas City
KS
Kansas
39.112701, -94.626801
Reno
NV
Nevada
39.529633, -119.813805
Tacoma
WA
Washington
47.258728, -122.465973
Aurora
CO
Colorado
39.7405111, -104.830994
Oxnard
CA
California
34.197659, -119.175949
Amarillo
TX
Texas
35.221996, -101.831299
Henderson
NV
Nevada
36.039524, -114.981720
Vancouver
WA
Washington
45.633331, -122.599998
Gilbert
AZ
Arizona
33.352825, -111.789024
San Bernardino
CA
California
34.115784, -117.302399
Columbus
GA
Georgia
27.800583, -97.396378
Hayward
CA
California
37.668819, -122.080795
Milwaukee
WI
Wisconsin
43.038902, -87.906471
Lubbock
TX
Texas
33.576698, -101.855072
Norfolk
VA
Virginia
36.850769, -76.285873
Tulsa
OK
Oklahoma
36.153980, -95.992775
Garland
TX
Texas
32.914341, -96.636559
Fort Lauderdale
FL
Florida
26.124161, -80.143593
Tucson
AZ
Arizona
32.248814, -110.987419
Salt Lake City
UT
Utah
40.760780, -111.891045
Corona
CA
California
33.875670, -117.568840
Madison
WI
Wisconsin
43.073051, -89.401230
Huntsville
AL
Alabama
34.7014286, -86.6597495
Kansas City
MO
Missouri
39.099728, -94.578568
Irvine
CA
California
33.684566, -117.826508
Chula Vista
CA
California
32.640072, -117.084038
Denton
TX
Texas
33.215530, -97.132446
Aurora
IL
Illinois
41.7571701, -88.3147539
Baton Rouge
LA
Louisiana
30.4494155, -91.1869659
Columbus
OH
Ohio
39.961178, -82.998795
Baltimore
MD
Maryland
39.2908816, -76.610759
Detroit
MI
Michigan
42.331429, -83.045753
Chesapeake
VA
Virginia
36.7183708, -76.2466798
Atlanta
GA
Georgia
33.7489924, -84.3902644
Birmingham
AL
Alabama
33.5206824, -86.8024326
Scottsdale
AZ
Arizona
33.501324, -111.925278
Cincinnati
OH
Ohio
39.103700, -84.513610
North Las Vegas
NV
Nevada
36.201946, -115.120216
Riverside
CA
California
33.980602, -117.375496
Plano
TX
Texas
33.019844, -96.698883
Minneapolis
MN
Minnesota
44.977753, -93.265015
Salinas
CA
California
,
Anaheim
CA
California
33.836594, -117.914299
Springfield
MO
Missouri
37.208958, -93.292297
Fort Wayne
IN
Indiana
41.077469, -85.137489
Phoenix
AZ
Arizona
33.448376, -112.074036
Bakersfield
CA
California
35.3738712, -119.0194639
Garden Grove
CA
California
33.774269, -117.937996
Anchorage
AK
Alaska
61.2163129, -149.894852
Indianapolis
IN
Indiana
39.768402, -86.158066
Nashville
TN
Tennessee
36.162663, -86.781601
Tempe
AZ
Arizona
33.425522, -111.941254
Mobile
AL
Alabama
30.695366, -88.039894
New Orleans
LA
Louisiana
29.951065, -90.071533
Knoxville
TN
Tennessee
35.960636, -83.920738
Grand Rapids
MI
Michigan
42.963360, -85.668083
Fontana
CA
California
34.102890, -117.435760
Elk Grove
CA
California
38.418129, -121.393257
Cape Coral
FL
Florida
26.5625742, -81.9438802
Grand Prairie
TX
Texas
32.745499, -97.003532
Fort Collins
CO
Colorado
40.588970, -105.082458
Killeen
TX
Texas
31.117119, -97.727798
Modesto
CA
California
37.639095, -120.996880
Oklahoma City
OK
Oklahoma
35.468491, -97.521263
Santa Ana
CA
California
33.745571, -117.867836
Ontario
CA
California
34.063343, -117.650887
Brownsville
TX
Texas
25.9015688, -97.4984005
Montgomery
AL
Alabama
32.379223, -86.307739
Hialeah
FL
Florida
25.857595, -80.278107
Springfield
MA
Massachusetts
42.102051, -72.585762
Toledo
OH
Ohio
41.652805, -83.537865
Pembroke Pines
FL
Florida
26.007765, -80.296257
Overland Park
KS
Kansas
38.974819, -94.683601
Little Rock
AR
Arkansas
34.746483, -92.289597
Glendale
CA
California
34.142509, -118.255074
Roseville
CA
California
38.752125, -121.288010
Wichita
KS
Kansas
37.687176, -97.330055
Huntington Beach
CA
California
33.659485, -117.998802
Augusta
GA
Georgia
33.4709714, -81.9748429
Worcester
MA
Massachusetts
42.271389, -71.798889
Virginia Beach
VA
Virginia
36.852924, -75.977982
Oceanside
CA
California
33.1958696, -117.3794834
Santa Clarita
CA
California
34.456043, -118.571335
Philadelphia
PA
Pennsylvania
39.952583, -75.165222
Corpus Christi
TX
Texas
27.800583, -97.396378
Portland
OR
Oregon
45.512230, -122.658722
Denver
CO
Colorado
39.739235, -104.990250
Boston
MA
Massachusetts
42.3554334, -71.060511
Atlanta
GA
Georgia
33.7489924, -84.3902644
Chicago
IL
Illinois
41.8755616, -87.6244212
Orlando
FL
Florida
28.538336, -81.379234
Jacksonville
FL
Florida
30.332184, -81.655647
Tampa
FL
Florida
27.950575, -82.457176
Long Island
NY
New York
40.757801, -73.940033
Queens
NY
New York
40.728226, -73.794853
Bronx
NY
New York
40.8466508, -73.8785937
Staten Island
NY
New York
40.643501, -74.076202
Brooklyn
NY
New York
40.6526006, -73.9497211
New York
NY
New York
40.712776, -74.005974
San Jose
CA
California
37.342205, -121.851990
San Francisco
CA
California
37.774929, -122.419418
San Diego
CA
California
32.834686, -117.130775
Los Angeles
CA
California
34.052235, -118.243683
El Paso
TX
Texas
31.761877, -106.485023
San Antonio
TX
Texas
29.387428, -98.496574
Dallas
TX
Texas
32.776665, -96.796989
Fort Worth
TX
Texas
32.755489, -97.330765
Houston
TX
Texas
29.760427, -95.369804
Austin
TX
Texas
30.2711286, -97.7436995

Book an appointment with a {category} dietitian

Covered by insurance.

Book an appointment with an online dietitian

Covered by insurance.

Find a

dietitian covered by insurance

No items found.
Mental Health
Intuitive Eating
Hyperthyroidism