ZocdocAnswersHow much food can the stomach handle?

Question

How much food can the stomach handle?

My little brother is 17, and he just ate an entire large cheese pizza and a pint of ice cream. Now he says he feels sick, and his stomach hurts. How much food is too much? How much can your stomach actually hold?

Answer

This is an interesting question. Hopefully the fact that your brother got sick will deter him from wanting to eat a whole pizza and all the ice cream again. My gosh that's a lot of calories. The stomach is an organ with some interesting features I'll explain below. When we being eating a meal, the stomach senses the food and becomes more stretchable which allows it to accommodate each mouthful as it comes down the esophagus. If we continue eating without a break, the stomach will stay stretchy, and can accommodate a significant load especially in a young, otherwise healthy teenager like your brother. After someone stops eating, the stomach's muscles contract down inducing a feeling of being full. An overly stretched stomach isn't particularly dangerous, but it can make someone nauseous and want to throw up. If you are worried about eating too much, one method you can use is to take a break in the middle of you meal. When you stop eating, those stomach muscles will contract down and give you a sensation of being full and you will satisfied with stopping. If you or your brother ever become sick after a meal, don't hesitate to see you primary care physician the next day. Good luck.

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