Skipping Meals

empty-platePeople skip meals for all sorts of reasons. For instance, they mistakenly believe that missing a meal will help weight loss, or they make eating a lower priority than other tasks. Or they’re so busy that they simply forget to eat. Our lifestyles nowadays are more hectic than ever. Many of us work more than one job, juggle work and/or volunteer activities and family obligations, or run a side business that takes up a great deal of time. Few people actually eat a real breakfast or take a full lunch break at work, and many people plan their food intake around their activities rather than the other way around.

HEALTH BENEFITS

When you skip meals, it’s tough to fit in the recommended number of servings of nutrient-rich fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. As a result, you miss out on important nutrients. We like to think of the situation as vitamins, minerals, protein, and energy not showing up for work in your body. The upshot: you may experience headaches, poor concentration, irritability, poor blood-sugar control, mood swings, and even a weaker immune system. Meal skipping also can rob you of the energy you need to exercise, play with your kids, walk the dog, or mow the lawn.,

WEIGHT-CONTROL BENEFITS

Many people believe that when you skip a meal, your body makes up for it by burning stored fat. Wouldn’t it be great if that were true? We could just starve ourselves until we burned up all of our excess body fat, and then everyone would look like Jennifer Aniston! But that’s not what happens.

Skipping meals won’t help you save calories or lose weight. In fact, research shows that this practice may be one of the best ways to gain weight. That’s because meal skippers ten to overeat at later meals, and may burn fewer calories per day than those who eat regular meals or snacks. When we skip a meal, we burn some body fat because we have to pull some fat out of storage to meet our fuel needs, but we also burn muscle tissue. Also, our bodies adapt to a lack of needed fuel by becoming more fuel efficient, burning fewer calories; in other words, our cells turn off less important tasks and learn to do more with less. In addition, when we skip meals, our bodies release hormones that boost our hunger, which usually triggers an eating frenzy.

PRACTICAL TIPS

  • Stock your kitchen with healthy breakfast items you can either grab and take or toss together in minutes. If breakfast takes five minutes or less, you’ll be less likely to skip it. Warm frozen berries in the microwave, stir them into a packet of cooked instant oatmeal, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts or almonds. Grab a string cheese and mini 100 percent fruit juice box to take with you. Blend frozen banana slices, peanut butter, and vanilla soy milk for a delicious smoothie.
  • Keep meal-replacement bars on hand at eh office. Choose a bar with about 30 grams of carbohydrate, 10 to 20 grams of protein, and 5 to 10 grams of fat. A bar with this content provides the equivalent of two slices of bread, a few slices of lunchmeat, and a teaspoon of mayo. Round out the meal with a piece of fruit and ready-to-eat veggies such as cherry tomatoes or baby carrots.
  • Stock your office freezer with emergency frozen microwave meals. Look for entrees with 350 to 450 calories that include vegetables, grains, lean protein, and less than 30 percent of the Daily Value for sodium. Supplement the meal with a piece of fruit or mini fruit cup.
  • Set your cell-phone alarm to prompt you to reach for some fuel. Don’t let more than five hours go by without eating.
  • Stock your desk drawer with ready-to-eat snacks, such as whole-grain crackers, nuts and seeds, and mini fruit cups canned in 100 percent juice, along with plastic forks.
  • Organize a lunch club at work. Each member can either pitch in for shared takeout or bring a dish to share. Or designate one person each week to pick up nutritious lunch supplies for the crew, such as lunch meat, bread, salad mix, and fruit.
  • Instead of skipping dinner, pour a bowl of whole-grain cereal with skim or 1 percent milk and top it with a sliced banana.