Health Hazard: Skipping Lunch

Do you hectically work through lunch, rushing around with no time to refuel?  Do you think you are fine because you don’t feel miserable?  What people don’t realize is that they need to give their system more energy every four to five hours.  When extremely busy, an adrenaline rush may mask hunger signals.  But the body will start to suffer with no immediate source of glucose, which many of the body’s cells need to function normally (most importantly, the brain!).  It’s comparable to not getting enough sleep and believing it’s fine: When you are so used to feeling the way you feel, you can’t imagine how much better you would feel if you were well-rested and well-fed!

In reality, skipping a meal will eventually slow your body’s metabolism.  Our physiology still reacts as we did in the caveman days–if there is not a source of food, we burn energy more slowly in order to conserve it.  As a result, people  who are overweight may be skipping meals and then expecting to lose weight.  But this does not happen because you end up burning fewer calories to conserve energy, as well as making up for the calories later on in the day.

That’s right: Adding insult to injury, we tend to make up for the meals we skip later on in the day by eating empty calorie foods.  Eventually, giving in to hunger leads to grabbing the first food we see–often something from a vending machine, like a bag of chips or a candy bar.

Obviously, skipping a meal means skipping any nutrition you would have eaten at that meal.  It’s hard enough to get in all our servings of fruit, vegetables, dairy, etc. If you skip a meal, how are you ever going to fit all those nutrient-dense foods in later in the day?!

Another part of missing a meal means you are missing fluids needed for hydration.  It’s so important to get enough water in each day–whether you consciously realize it or not.  You might not feel thirsty, but your body still needs about eight glasses of water each day to keep you adequately hydrated.

The bottom line is people who are rushing to meetings, glued to their computer or telephone, and not leaving their desks–are not making time for a break to re-energize.  They are missing the opportunity to rehydrate and refuel their body, and missing out on needed nutrients.

Image by: Steve Woods, SXC

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