What Happens If You Eat Too Much? Why Mixing Chocolate and Wine Hurts Your Stomach

Eating too much chocolate at night can cause acid reflux. Michael Dodge/Getty Images for VRC

Even the most stringent eater will go overboard on chocolate and alcohol, especially during the holidays. And all that boozing and binging can cause some ... gastrointestinal unpleasantness. A few simple rules could help you avoid bloating and some of the other unseemly side effects of celebratory feasting.

According to Dr. Jonathan Buscaglia, a gastroenterologist at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York, the effects of overindulging vary by person and partially depend on what was consumed. However, nearly everyone will likely suffer from one common complaint: bloating, which he says will occur that night or the next day.

But indulging doesn't have to be painful with a few gut-healthy hacks:

Hit the Pharmacy

If you know that you might eat and drink a little too much during a night out, it's best to be proactive, according to Buscaglia.

"Take over the counter acid blocking medication before you go out at night," Buscaglia told Newsweek. He advises picking up something like Pepcid or Prilosec.

Stay Awake

You've heard this time and time again, but it's really best not to eat right before you sleep. "Remember to try not to go to bed within two hours of eating," advises Buscaglia. "If you can stay upright or less reclined, the longer you can do that before you go to bed, the best you'll be."

Dine on Fish

Chicago-based gastroenterologist Dr. Arun Ohri recommends eating plenty of protein to help absorb alcohol. But it's best to stay away from beef or chicken and opt for seafood because animal proteins can actually foster bad gut bacteria.

Eat Chocolate During the Day

Buscaglia explained that chocolate affects the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle at the bottom of your esophagus that stays closed in order to prevent acid from coming up. "It should be tight and closed after we eat a meal," he said. But holiday favorites like peppermint and chocolate relax the muscle.

Alcohol also relaxes this muscle, which is why Ohri advises against mixing chocolate and liquor. Eating chocolate during the day reduces your chances of getting acid reflux, says Ohri.


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Go Easy the Day After

Buscaglia advises drinking plenty of water and following a fairly simple diet for two days after a binge.

"I would advocate blander, small portion meals over the next 24 to 48 hours before hitting yourself with a second slap in the face with heavier, big portion meals," said Buscaglia. This keeps you hydrated and also keeps the gastrointestinal tract moving.

Of course, the best way to avoid feeling sick is to practice moderation, which isn't as fun but might be a safer option.

"You know you're going to pay for it the next day," said Buscaglia.