We all might have come across the feeling what it’s like to get into the zone at the office. You put on your headphones, fingers furiously typing, and you are completely engrossed in answering and sending emails.
Busy schedule in the office can often cause you to forget the last time you had a snack or even meals. There are people who skip meals in the form of intermittent fasting which is a way of dieting where you can eat whatever you want but only during a specific time period.
There is no second opinion that skipping meals, the proper way i.e. intermittent fasting can have incredible health benefits like weight loss, etc. But, obviously skipping a meal and intermittent fasting are two very different things. Skipping a meal because you are too busy to eat or simply to deprive or punish yourself is completely different from fasting to get cravings under control and practising mindful eating.
Why You Should Not Skip Meals?
Generally speaking, forgoing eating has negative consequences for your body. Here, experts have jotted out what exactly happens to your body when you don’t eat enough or skip meals:
You Might Be A Victim Of Overeating At Your Next Meal
When people tend to skip meals, they feel like they owe something later in the day so they feel and overeat at their next meal. But in case you split up your meals throughout the course of the day, your body is able to use those nutrients more efficiently.
Imagine your body as a food processor: if you add food into it, it will work well and do its job. But if you simply shove tons of food into it at once if would get stuck similar in case of your body as well. Once you have skipped a meal and then stuff yourself with food your body won’t work efficiently.
To help your body function properly, make sure you enjoy three balanced meals a day and also grab a healthy snack when you are hungry between meals. In case you start to hear a little rumble in your belly, that’s a sure sign that it’s time to eat.
Experts say that the most important thing is to eat based on your internal feelings and not the clock. So, when you start feeling like you cannot concentrate, start chewing something nutritious ASAP.
You Will Feel Sluggish And Tired
Skipping meals and not consuming enough food during the span of the day can literally make your head spin. You might start to feel very dizzy and have low energy, and even feel like you might pass out. This all is due to the drop in blood sugar or glucose. When you don’t feed your brain, it signals your body that it’s time to shut things down.
This is one of the main reasons why while practising intermittent fasting, you have to make sure you are doing it properly and maybe on a set schedule. And when you do eat, you must fill up on foods that will sustain you throughout the fasting periods.
You Won’t Be In Your Best Mood
Your blood sugar starts dropping when you skip meals consistently. This can severely affect your disposition. We all might have come across ‘Hangry’ and you know how it feels to be there. Glucose is the most important fuel for our brains, so when we don’t have it, it can put us in a very bad mood.
When you are skipping meals and end up feeling hangry, you must not grab the first snack you find, unless it is healthy. Generally, when people have very low blood sugar, they tend to go for very fatty or sugary foods because their body starts to crave it.
You Will Not Be Able To Maintain Weight Loss In The Long Run
If you think skipping a meal is a smart way and good method to maintain weight loss, think again. No doubt, you will naturally consume fewer calories, but there is a good chance that you will cave into your cravings and binge on unhealthy foods. This can also lead to a dangerous cycle of yo-yo dieting.
Yo-yo dieting can simply mess with your resting metabolism, which is the actual way your body burns calories in order to function. Once your meal timing becomes unpredictable, your body will keep what it can and won’t burn calories efficiently.
Your hunger hormones can also take a dig on you if you are skipping meals. As your body might produce less leptin (the hunger hormone) that decreases appetite, making it harder for you to discern when you are already full.
Skipping Meals Might Make You Reach For Sweet And Carby Stuff
Generally, when people are super hungry, they tend to go for the carbs and sweets because those will help raise their blood sugar. The thing is that carbo-loading without nutrients like fat and protein induces a rise in glucose and can make your blood sugar spike and dip alternatively, which is not ideal. This pattern of eating won’t keep you full or satisfied for as long, which means your problem is solved only temporarily.
In addition to that when you wait till you are absolutely ravenous to eat, you are more likely to eat past the point of fullness or even comfort. You are likely to overeat to make up for the lack of calories you took up in throughout the day. This can lead to nausea, constipation, bloating, and exhaustion. Overeating generally happens because you are taking food in way too quickly and ignoring your body’s satiety cues.
You Feel Fatigued Over Time And May Experience Other Long-lasting Effects
When you don’t eat enough on a regular basis, your body might not get enough protein which is important for muscle growth, bone health, your immune system, and more. When you are low on protein for a long duration your overall energy will take a hit.
This makes working out and building more muscle or even keeping what you already have pretty tough. Skipping meals not only affect the nutrients you consume but also your ability to exercise and lead a healthy life.
Determining how often you need to eat takes a few experimentations and is an individual thing, you must figure out what works for you the best. You can learn about intuitive eating to get more in tune with your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
It is obvious from all the above points that skipping meals is bad for your health. Skipping meals can happen from time to time but doing it consistently can negatively impact your health and lead to various nutritional deficiencies.
You are not in a position to perform at your best because all you can focus on is food. If you are facing difficulty in making time for meals because you have a busy schedule, consider these tips:
Acquire The Habit Of Meal Planning But Start Small
You should not prep an entire week’s worth of meals at once. Rather, prepare a nutritious breakfast the night before so you have something ready to eat the next morning. Like, if you are cooking a big batch of soup for dinner, pack a bowl for lunch.
Keep Healthy Snacks Ready
We all are accustomed to our busy life and there are days when you are rushing from one meeting to the next without much time to eat in between. This is where having nutrient-rich noshes at your desk can come in handy. Some good and healthy snack ideas are a handful of roasted almonds, low-sugar protein bars and low-fat plain greek yogurt with some fresh foods.
Combo Of Meal Replacement Shake With A Healthy Snack
If you are really in a nick, consuming a healthy meal replacement shake with some healthy snacks can help you get a complete meal on the go. But be cautious that many meal replacement shakes are high in sugar and don’t have enough stomach-filling protein or fibre.
So, in order to make it a true meal, pair it with a healthy snack, it can be a banana with some natural peanut butter or celery sticks with hummus. Make sure meal replacement shakes shouldn’t turn into a regular habit.
Find out time to sit down and enjoy your meal on a priority basis whether you have a busy schedule or not. When you step away from your desk to eat, it can do wonders for stress relief and help you feel more focused too.
Make It A General Rule To Eat After Every Few Hours
Although the specific timing generally varies from person to person, there are various reasons why it’s a good idea to eat something every three to four hours. Eating at regular intervals or throughout the day prevents dips in the energy, keeps you alert and focused.
It also helps to prevent eating past the point of fullness. It’s not that if you don’t have enough food one day, all your systems will immediately go haywire instead your body starts reacting to the dearth of fuel in various ways.
Skipping Meals And Diabetes
Skipping meals is one of the worst things you can do, especially if you are dealing with diabetes. Skipping meals when you are busy or something came up unexpectedly is one thing but skipping meals intentionally should never be encouraged.
The Negative Effects Of Skipping Meals For Diabetic People
If you are someone who is hit by diabetes, it is important to eat regular and balanced meals to help stabilize your blood sugars. In case you take an oral diabetes medicine it triggers your pancreas to make insulin or actual insulin. And if you delay or skip a meal your blood sugar can drop drastically.
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) is typically defined as anything less than 70mg/dl, it must be treated with 15g of fast-acting carbohydrates to bring back blood sugars to a safe level. Low blood sugars often result in taking in extra calories from sugar to pick them up.
For people who are trying to lose weight, this doesn’t make sense because you are not only taking in extra calories but you are probably feeling pretty crummy too. Frequents dips of low blood sugar are not only dangerous but can also cause weight gain.
Skipping A Meal Also Doesn’t Mean That You Can Eat More Later
For instance, if you skip lunch, you shouldn’t go overboard with the carbohydrates at dinner to make up for it. When you eat a large meal, rich in carbohydrates, your body must produce a big surge of insulin to help reduce your blood sugar.
For people with diabetes, this mechanism doesn’t always work well. Your pancreas is either unable to keep up with the glucose load or the insulin that your body is making is not being used the way it should be. This results in high blood sugar which may leave you feeling tired and irritable. Frequent high blood sugars are quite dangerous for your health.
Skipping meals may be easier to adopt but the myth that not eating is effective for weight loss is quite misleading. It is very important that you have five small meals a day while trying to lose weight. This pattern keeps the metabolism in fat-burning mode.
Instead of permanently harming your health and reducing your life you should forget about skipping meals and instead focus on healthy eating. You can also include regular physical activity as a foundation for weight loss and a healthy body.
In case your lifestyle keeps you busy and you often forget to eat, you can set reminders. Simply, pack office or school lunches ahead of time so you have no excuse of not eating your meals.
Also, if you are already habituated with skipping meals, you should start taking proper nutrition to avoid binge eating. You can also opt for diet counselling for nutrition or a diet for weight loss if that’s your motto behind skipping meals.
Next time if you ever feel like you are having a hard time paying attention, understanding information, organizing your thoughts, focussing, or remembering details consider filling up your tummy first.