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What happens to the body when you skip meals?

Decking the halls can take a lot out of you, but don’t become so frazzled that you start skipping meals.

“During the holidays, we are often so hurried we don’t have time to sit down for a meal,” says Haley Robinson, a clinical dietitian at Piedmont Atlanta. “Some people also tend to think that if they skip breakfast and lunch, they will be able to indulge more at holiday dinners without exceeding their calorie limit for the day.”

But forgoing food isn’t healthy, and it can actually lead to weight gain.

What happens when you skip a meal?         

“First, your blood sugar decreases, which causes interruption in your ability to think straight,” says Robinson. “The brain uses glucose to run efficiently and if there is not enough glucose for the brain to use, your body does not function at 100 percent.” 

Low blood sugar causes people to feel irritable, confused and fatigued. The body begins to increase production of cortisol, leaving us stressed and hangry.  

Skipping meals can also cause your metabolism to slow down, which can cause weight gain or make it harder to lose weight. 

“When you skip a meal or go a long time without eating, your body goes into survival mode,” says Robinson. “This causes your cells and body to crave food which causes you to eat a lot! We usually tend to crave unhealthy foods and all attempts at eating healthy go out the door. When you are that hungry, anything goes!”    

Tips to avoid skipping meals 

Let’s face it—the holiday season can be hectic. If you are extremely busy, try following these tips:

  • Eat smaller, frequent meals throughout the day rather than skipping meals.
  • Always have a snack around like yogurt or a granola bar to hold you over until your next meal.
  • Eat snacks high in protein and fiber.  They will keep you full longer.
  • Plan your meals in advance or prepare them the night before.
  • Make a schedule for the week to avoid over booking yourself or falling behind.
  • Set an alarm to ring at lunchtime if you are going to be running around all day.
  • Make a lunch date. You cannot skip a meal if you have already made plans with friends or family.

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