One of the most common things I discuss with patients is the importance of eating regularly and not skipping meals. Some people think missing a meal will help them lose weight while others may feel that they are too busy to eat or have a job on the road which can make it difficult.
Whatever the reason, the short story of skipping meals is that it is not a healthy habit. Our bodies have inbuilt mechanisms to maintain normal blood glucose (sugar) levels and when you skip a meal, your body doesn’t get the fuel it needs to function. Consequently, your blood glucose levels drop and the body experiences a shortage of energy which in turn impacts the normal functioning of the body including brain function.
When your body and brain experiences this shortage of fuel you can become tired, moody and irritable, and you might find it difficult to pay attention and concentrate. Other side effects include headaches, heart palpitations, dizziness, sweating, hunger, anxiety and confusion.
Other aspects of your life may also be impacted because you don’t have the energy to be active or do your planned exercise, or you might start craving unhealthy foods! Your hormone function is also compromised as insulin – the hormone that regulates how glucose is absorbed by our cells – may become dysfunctional from irregular food intake. Insulin resistance, where your body produces insulin but does not use it effectively, may develop resulting in glucose building up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells and this increases your risk of developing diabetes type 2 later in life. Skipping meals can also have negative effects on your metabolism and slow it down making it more difficult to lose weight.
Eating the right foods and providing the right nutrients for your body is the cornerstone of your health. I recommend you take a little time each week to make sure you have the foods you need in your fridge and pantry to prepare quick but nutritious meals and snacks. Here are my 3 top tips to help you with this planning.
- Boil 6 eggs and refrigerate them on Sunday. If you’re running late at breakfast time or no time to prepare your lunch, grab a boiled egg, a piece of fruit like a banana and small handful of natural nuts.
- When you do the shopping make sure you buy some small tins of tuna or salmon. These are super easy to throw into a lunch box. Add some cherry tomatoes and a carrot, an apple and a small handful of natural nuts.
- Hummus is made from chickpeas and is a great source of fibre and protein. It’s super easy to make or buy good quality supermarket one. Add some wholegrain crackers, a piece of seasonal fruit, and carrot and capsicum sticks.
These options provide a source of protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats to keep your blood glucose levels stable and give you enough energy to keep going.