You’re so busy with paperwork; you sit at your desk all day, typing away on your computer, without taking a break just so you can finish your task as fast as possible. Next thing you know you haven’t had a bite to eat or something to drink in 3 hours. Maybe you’ll think this isn’t such a bad thing since you’re trying to be careful with food anyway. Or maybe you think that it’s ok to skip a meal because you are going to make up for it later, but there are a few negative consequences to this practice:
- Fatigue and mood swings: Skipping just one meal causes your blood-sugar levels to go down. Every time you eat, blood sugar goes up. Once the hormone insulin gets activated, it acts like a doorman allowing some sugar in your cells and will leave just enough circulating in your blood to keep it stable. If your blood sugar is too high or too low, all of your body’s organs area affected in a negative way. This includes your brain. Without a steady supply of food (and sugar), your intellectual and emotional properties change. You may become foggy, moody, tired, or irritable. When you do eat again, your body feels relief—but it’s short-lived.
- Weight gain: This may seem counterintuitive since you are skipping a meal (or snack), therefore skipping some calories. Although you are immediately restricting calories, you may more than make up for it at your next meal or snack because you are so hungry. When’s the last time you only had an apple when you were starving? When we’re ravenous we crave high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods. On top of that, you will eat faster than usual, not giving your brain enough time to register that you are full, leading to too many calories. Also, if you keep skipping meals, your metabolism will stay low since it doesn’t know when the next supply of calories is coming. Keep the meal-skipping thing up, and your body might turn to your muscles as a fuel source, thereby losing strength and reducing your metabolism even more!
What is a meal?
A meal doesn’t have to be complicated but should follow a simple rule: Half your plate should be comprised of vegetables, ¼ of the plate is protein and the remaining ¼ of starchy foods. Proteins include beef, pork, chicken, eggs, beans, and lentils. Starchy foods include pasta, quinoa, rice, bulgur, bread, potatoes, and corn.
If you don’t have leftovers or time to prepare a full meal, the following combinations will give you the nutrients you need, as long as they follow the plate portions mentioned above
- Hardboiled egg, vegetables, cheese and crackers;
- Tuna and crackers, vegetables;
- Bean salad and vegetables;
- Pita, vegetables, and hummus or yogurt dip (tzatziki);
- Turkey wrap with hummus and vegetables.
What about hydration:
Our body is similar to a car. If the motor heats up, the car breaks down. It’s the same with our bodies. If we are dehydrated, we start to break down. The first signs of dehydration are thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, we sweat less and we produce less urine and it is dark. There is no magic number of liquids to drink in a day; everyone has different needs, it depends on the temperature and how much we sweat. In reality, the exact quantity is in relation to how many calories we need. If we need 2000 calories, we need 2000 ml, 3000 calories = 3000ml. But instead of counting our calories and liquids, the best indicator is the color of our urine. Ideally, it should be a light yellow. If it’s dark yellow, you should drink some water. For more information: https://thefoodierd.com/2016/01/07/how-much-water-do-i-need-to-drink/ .
So how do we increase our fluid intake?
- Keep a water bottle handy at all times. Find one that keeps liquids cold or hot all day long.
- Find liquids you enjoy. If you don’t like plain water, infuse it with fruits, herbs or citrus.
- If necessary, program an alarm or reminder on your phone to drink a few sips every hour.
- Drink a glass of water with every meal and snack.
- Take a break every hour to have a few sips of water.
Challenge: Get up and move around for 5 minutes for every hour you sit down. Bonus points if you take a few sips of water during these breaks!