November 27, 2011
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We’ve all said at one time or another “I’m so full I am going to burst.” Well, in all probability you were far from actually bursting—rupturing your stomach—but that does not mean it can’t happen (never mind Mr. Creosote in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life).
An adult’s stomach can typically hold 1 to 1.5 liters of food, the point at which you feel really stuffed and 99.9% of us stop eating. If you keep cramming it down, you’re probably safe up to about 3 liters. Above that, who knows? This isn’t something you’d want to do an experiment on! Your gag reflex won’t help because once your stomach is this distended, the muscles are stretched thin and cannot generate the force needed for vomiting. But, there are medically documented cases of stomach rupture due to excessive food intake, and it is, as you might well imagine, a very serious situation. However, except for people with certain eating disorders, it’s nothing for the rest of us to worry about.