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Does the stomach really shrink?

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Old 02-05-2011, 11:31 PM   #1
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Default Does the stomach really shrink?

I've been eating pretty small portions. I eat stir-fry almost every day and usually I think about how small it is but I'm never noticeably hungry afterward. Today was stressful for me so I didn't eat all day and instead just sipped on water. I finally got hungry and made myself a HUGE stir-fry with chicken, peppers, water chestnuts, pea pods, onions, green beans, and broccoli and a one-minute muffin (a low carb muffin recipe using ground flax, one egg, butter, and seasonings) topped with cream cheese. I noticed that I ended up making a ton of food, but didn't think much of it. About halfway through my meal I started getting full but kept eating. A little while later I realized that I couldn't finish it! I wasted almost a whole muffin and a bunch of veggies. Now that I think about it I should have covered it and had it with breakfast or lunch tomorrow.

All of my food rambling aside, I usually describe this as my stomach shrinking because I'm eating less, but I started thinking about it and I realized that I'm not sure exactly what happens. Does the stomach really shrink when you eat less? I went from being able to polish off half of a pizza with a soda and now I'm getting stuffed off of half of a muffin and stir-fry. Could it also be that I'm eating more filling foods?
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Old 02-05-2011, 11:36 PM   #2
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I don't know the answer, but thought I'd share my experience tonight and the thoughts that accompanied it.

DH, my daughter, and I went to a pizza joint tonight. I made the decision that I would eat pizza, but knew that I wanted to eat no more than 2 pieces to stay within my calorie goals. I was a little nervous about going because the former me would have easily eaten 3-4 pieces and maybe even a Coke.

I ate one piece, then ate half of another piece, and I was just DONE. I felt full, and had no desire to eat any more. Pretty cool!

So, I was reflecting on that and wondering what the difference was. I'm not sure that it's a change in the size of my stomach, but I think rather that it is a change in my awareness of my own satiety. I pay attention more now and I am AWARE when I become full. Before I would just eat and eat since it tasted good, then feel uncomfortably full and yucky later.

Just my thoughts. Either way, pretty cool to not want as much any more, right?
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Old 02-05-2011, 11:43 PM   #3
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Hm... I actually do think your stomach shrinks.

I think the stomach is capable of expanding to meet the eating habits of the person (hence, how we all got here. After all, if the stomach couldn't expand, then what we over ate would just come back up. And then we wouldn't be in this position )

So I think it is safe to assume that the stomach can retract itself back to it's natural, un-expanded form. Which leads us to getting fuller sooner.. and not over eating.

Seems logical to me. But I could be way off base.

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Old 02-05-2011, 11:48 PM   #4
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I thought I remembered seeing an MTV episode of True Life where they followed competitive eaters, and the claim was that the stomach did stretch by repeatedly eating large meals. However, according to both WebMD and an article I found on Chow.com that's not true. What eating less (or more) on a consistent basis does is reset your body's internal meter that says when you're full or not.

For me, that was the hardest part of starting this lifestyle change. The first 2 - 3 weeks I was desperately chugging water and trying to find ways to pass the time in between my seemingly tiny meals. Now, I am amazed at how full I am after a regular portioned meal. Rejoice in the fact that you're able to eat less, it helps cut the calories
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:32 AM   #5
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The theory about being more aware of when you're full is a good one. I know I used to shovel down 2-3 slices of pizza before my body was probably even aware that I was eating . I would also eat until I was uncomfortably full, like an entire meal at a restaurant just because it tasted good.
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:35 AM   #6
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As Michi702 said, the current thinking seems to be that the size of the stomach doesn't change, but the receptors that tell when we are full do change.

If someone consistently overeats, it's as though the stretch receptors become dulled and don't respond until a lot of food has been eaten. If one eats smaller amounts, the stretch receptors "reset" and once again one feels full when eating less.

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Old 02-06-2011, 08:53 AM   #7
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I'm pretty sure that I could still put away 3 or 4 large slices of pizza no problem, lol.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hopeful8 View Post
I'm pretty sure that I could still put away 3 or 4 large slices of pizza no problem, lol.
Agreed! I actually have questioned the stomach shrinking thing numerous times. Several years ago I lost a lot of weight with healthy eating over several months. I did "cheat" meals occasionally, and I was always amazed at the amount of food I could still pack away!

I did this last week as well, I had my first cheat meal - we went out to lunch and I ordered a burger and onion rings and thought, I'll just eat half of everything. You know what? I ate the entire meal and didn't even feel full and bloated afterwards. I was astounded.

This has always been the case with me, and I just don't get it! So, it really has been a more mental battle for me in the losing weight department. I have to keep myself on a strict schedule and a strict weight and measurement for each meal, or I would overeat every time and probably not realize it. Ugh!

Is anyone else like this?
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:08 PM   #9
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Oh, yeah, and this makes me super worried about getting to a maintenance period one day (because obviously I failed last time several years ago).
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:15 PM   #10
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When you stomach is completely empty, it is about the size of your fist. I think as we lose weight, we come to realize we don't need huge portions because we are more mindful of what we were eating. It is not good for your body to go all day without eating. You could have sipped a glass of milk or a smoothie if you couldn't eat a meal.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:29 PM   #11
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I think that a lot of it depends on the person. Some people's bodies are more resilient than others. Just like the skin of some people will stretch and then not go back to 'normal' when they lose weight, it's probably the same with your stomach.

Also, it probably depends on how long the stomach has been stretched out so far too. Our bodies cells seem to have a certain genetic memory, but that set point can be changed after an extended time and the new point becomes the bodies accepted state.

Either way, we do all experience the 'I get full on less' phenomenon so something is happening that changes our hunger/fullness signals.
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:15 PM   #12
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I got this off of webmd, but basically the nerve receptors in the stomach become more sensitive as you eat less.

2. Myth or Fact: If you cut down on your food intake, you'll eventually shrink your stomach so you won't be as hungry.

"Answer: Myth. Once you are an adult, your stomach pretty much remains the same size -- unless you have surgery to intentionally make it smaller. Eating less won't shrink your stomach, says Moyad, but it can help to reset your "appetite thermostat" so you won't feel as hungry, and it may be easier to stick with your eating plan."
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Old 02-07-2011, 09:40 AM   #13
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I don't know but I want my pooch to shrink.

Yes, I know, not what you meant...
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuilterInVA View Post
It is not good for your body to go all day without eating.
Why not? Mentally it might not be good because when you do eat you may end up making some really poor food choices but physically there is no science to back up your statement. In fact there are studies that show short term fasting is good for us. (Unless of course someone has blood sugar issues)
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Old 02-07-2011, 03:20 PM   #15
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Why not? Mentally it might not be good because when you do eat you may end up making some really poor food choices but physically there is no science to back up your statement. In fact there are studies that show short term fasting is good for us. (Unless of course someone has blood sugar issues)
I agree. I don't think there's anything wrong with not eating every once in a while. If I'm not hungry, which I wasn't because I was stressed out, then I just won't eat. It doesn't seem to negatively affect my weight loss and I still end up making on-plan choices when I finally am hungry.
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