There are days when you may skip a meal in order to meet a deadline or to complete a household chore; and there are days you skip meals just because you do not feel hungry.
Sometimes, we skip meals with the hope that it might help us lose weight – an irregular pattern caused by guilt – a compromise to even out the additional calorie intake because of the pizza you ate or the cake you devoured the night before. While these could be isolated instances, the problem starts when you fall into a pattern of skipping meals regularly.
If you are a habitual meal skipper, take note of these possible ill effects on your body:
Drop In Sugar Levels
Right from inducing lower blood sugar problems to over-eating, skipping meals is not an ideal solution for anyone. “Skipping meals can result in a sharp drop in your blood sugar levels which in turn make it difficult to maintain focus what you are doing,” says Dr Ganesh Kadhe, nutrition medical affairs at global healthcare company, Abbott.
Makes You Hangry
Drop in blood sugar levels and hunger can result in you being ‘irritable’ and ‘snappy’ through the day – which is not good for your nerves and overall mental wellbeing, advises Dr Kadhe. Skipping meals can lead to mood swings, lack of focus, irritability, migraine and emotional disturbance leading to compromised quality of life. This, in time, can also result in serious behavioural modifications leading to depression, he adds.
May Make You Overeat
“When you finally decide to break your fast, you will tend to eat more than you would have actually eaten otherwise, thus leading to over eating,” Dr Kadhe says. This is your body’s way of demanding and storing energy as it is traumatised by the starvation. Instead of reaching for a handful of chips, opt for a protein option like nuts, dry fruits or yogurt; or go for a whole fruit guava, kiwi fruit, or blackberries which are rich in protein – thus giving you the much-needed energy and boost. You could also opt for an avocado smoothie or a peach slush if you prefer chilled options.
Skipping meals can also lead to drop in protein levels – an essential macronutrient that aids in building and maintaining muscle health. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study, about 60 per cent of adults who did not meet the recommended amount of protein daily reported skipping at least one meal. It was seen that more than 40 per cent of adults who did not meet the protein recommendation ate fewer than three meals per day. “Protein signals strength and energy; those not meeting the protein recommendation were more likely to encounter physical limitations, such as sitting for long periods or difficulty in getting into or out of bed,” explains Dr Kadhe.
Add protein-toppers to meals. Spread hummus on your sandwich, toss beans into your salad or add diced chicken to your pasta. Nutritional shakes are a great option for adults who are not able to get enough protein through food or need an easy, on-the-go option; choose an oral nutrition supplement that offers more than just protein to ensure balance in your diet.
The habit of skipping meals can lead to several damages caused by nutritional void in the body. “In the longer run, skipping meals could lead to nutritional voids in macro and micro nutrients leading to reduced strength and stamina. This could further lead to long term deficiencies, impaired immunity and weight gain,” Dr Kadhe warns. Opt for a wholesome well-balanced meal that provides complete nutrition to your body. Good nutrition is critical to support a healthy immune system. There is a strong relationship between poor nutritional status and compromised immunity. While you are at it, make sure you are including protein foods, like chicken, seafood, eggs, nuts, beans or dairy, and aim for about 25-30 grams per meal.
Here’s why you should never skip breakfast
Your mom was right. If you want to stay healthy and fit, you should never skip the first meal of the day. Starting your day with a healthy balance of nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals has a host of benefits. Here are some:
According to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, people who had breakfast showed an improvement in short-term memory. Breakfast increases nutrient intakes by interrupting the depletion of nutrients that the body is constantly using. So the brain has all the elements to function at proper levels, helping improve memory.
Breakfast fuels your body for the entire morning. When we wake up in the morning, our glucose stores are low, so we barely have energy. A proper breakfast which is high in fibre and low in carbs will make you feel less tired through the day, a 1999 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found.
Having breakfast every morning will make you feel less restless and irritable. Having a full tummy makes you feel more positive through the rest of the day. In a study in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior which was done on 144 volunteers, researchers found that those who had breakfast cereals before the test sessions arrived in a better mood and were calmer following the sessions than those who didn’t.
Good for weight loss
Breakfast keeps you full. So there are lesser chances of unhealthy snacking during the day or loading up the plate during lunch or dinner. It also increases the body’s metabolism. Harvard conducted a research on 17,000 men and found that those who frequently ate breakfast consistently weighed less than those who rarely or never ate breakfast.
Protects against heart disease
Researchers from Columbia University found that people who eat breakfast daily are less likely to have high cholesterol and blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, people who skipped breakfast regularly were 27 per cent more likely to have a heart attack or die from coronary heart disease than those who didn’t.