I’m sure we have all been there before, you’re running late for work and decided to bypass breakfast or maybe you’ve decided to skip your lunch break to catch up on some work. You think it will all be fine right? Not necessarily. In addition to hunger pains, being han-gry (watch out innocent bystanders!) and feeling sluggish, there are some other worrying health impacts associated with skipping meals.
What happens to your body when you skip a meal
1. Blood sugar levels plummet & hormones become affected
If you skip just one meal it causes your blood sugar levels to fall, and if you are skipping breakfast they will never rise at all. Sugar is one of the things your body runs on and if it isn’t topped up properly, every organ in your body is affected. It also causes your cortisol levels to rise which causes anxiety and stress! Blood sugar levels need to be stable at all times so you don’t risk binging or feeling really off.
2. Metabolism slows
Your body is used to working 24 hours a day. When you skip a meal your digestive system isn’t able to do its job, this essentially means your body enters starvation mode in an effort to conserve energy. When this happens your metabolism slows way down and the food you do eventually eat isn’t burned off very efficiently. So if you think you are doing yourself a favour by skipping a meal in order to eat something naughty later, you are actually making it worse! If you are going to have a ‘cheat’ meal, try to eat wholesome foods throughout the rest of the day at regular intervals to keep your metabolism going.
3. Your brain doesn’t function properly
Without a proper supply of nutrients, your brain becomes clouded and your emotional and intellectual functions are affected. You will start to become moody and irritable, and it will be harder to concentrate as you go about your daily tasks. This can be a nightmare if you have a report due or are sitting an exam. When you do eat again the relief will only be temporary, as your metabolism doesn’t know when it will be receiving nutrients again. It stays low in order to conserve energy. What does this mean for you? Your mood isn’t going to improve, say hello to a bad day and further blood sugar drops! If you continually choose to skip meals your body may eventually turn to your muscles as a source of fuel, further draining energy. Sorry girls, but a cup of coffee isn’t considered a meal, it will only make you feel more groggy and irritable as the day goes on!
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4. Overeating and Binge Eating
If you have skipped most of your meals during the day and finally sit down to have dinner you are at serious risk of overeating way too much! Your body is so starved for calories and nutrients you usually don’t know when to stop because all of a sudden you feel so hungry. In the long run this could cause stomach problems and weight gain. Another thing you have to be wary of when you skip a meal is the dreaded binge. You have been absolutely flat out at work all day and haven’t had a moment to stop, you start making your way home and suddenly you could eat everything in sight. You open the pantry and proceed to eat 3 packets of chips, a chocolate bar, wash it down with a soda and then continue snacking on some biscuits. This is all before dinner. Nobody likes to binge, we all know it leaves us feeling guilty and sick. In order to give yourself the best chance to prevent binging, you must eat regularly throughout the day to keep your metabolism running and your body feeling satisfied.
Remember girls, meal prep is everything! The old saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is SO true! If you don’t want to meal prep days in advance, spend a few minutes at night getting your meals ready for the next day so you have the best chance of having a great day – with a full tummy!