Hello and happy Friday! Blog post coming out a little late this week, but that’s okay! With a friend coming to visit this weekend, and a trip next weekend, I wanted to spend some extra time focusing on getting organized this week. So here we are! Today, I wanted to talk about something that I think a lot of people struggle with-regularly skipping meals.
Many times when I ask a patient about what a typical day looks like, they’ll tell me that they don’t usually eat until dinner. They either don’t have time during the morning and afternoon hours to eat, or they just don’t feel hungry enough to sit down for a meal until dinner. Then, they’ll tell me how they have absolutely no self control because when they do eat a meal, they have several plates full and typically go back for “junk food” after the meal.
This routine is detrimental for a lot of reasons, top of the list is that people feel so guilty about how they eat at night and they don’t realize why they feel so ravenous in the first place. People may begin skipping meals and eating less as a way to lose weight, but then find out that doing these things will actually cause some unintended consequences.
Skipping meals can lead your body down a confused road. When we restrict our intake, our blood sugar drops and our brain loses out on glucose, thinking we’re starving, and eventually goes into survival mode. Our body doesn’t understand that we may be doing this on purpose, so it starts to brace for a lack of food. It wants to conserve energy and we may start to feel sluggish and begin craving highly palatable foods (high sugar, high fat) to get that blood sugar back up quickly. So then we finally give in and eat and our body wants to hang on to as much of the nutrients from that meal as possible, to have something stored up for the next “starvation” period and we end up gaining weight even though we’re eating less. Along with weight gain there is research that shows restricting intake and skipping meals can increase our risk for chronic health issues.
So how do we fix it? We start eating more! It can be a difficult routine to get into after tuning out the hunger cues for a long time, but when we start feeding ourselves on a regular basis our bodies will start to trust us again. When our body isn’t in constant fear of starvation, our hormones are better regulated, energy levels improve and we can eat a wider variety of foods since we’re not craving that quick blood sugar spike. Weight loss doesn’t need to be the goal here-even if weight gain was an outcome of skipping meals. The goal should be to take care of our body, and feed it regularly so that it can function at it’s best. Weight loss could be an outcome, but it may not be-which is A-okay.
Eating should be a priority just like drinking water, sleeping and moving. It’s unfair that some employers and professions don’t provide adequate time to eat and drink enough throughout the day. We should still try to advocate for ourselves in this area though. Especially those in professions which focus on caring for others. When the cabin pressure drops in an airplane, we’re told to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others. The same thing applies to eating. We can’t help others until we take care of ourselves.
No one is perfect, and it might take some time to get back in to a regular routine. We just need to start somewhere and take a step in the right direction to get back to making regular meals a priority.