January 18th, 2023
Want to improve your health in 2023? Stop skipping meals
Even in today’s information age, it can be easy to succumb to old, unhealthy habits.
Despite having access to groundbreaking science, helpful advice, and more options in life than ever before, we’re only human – and our temptations to fall back into well-worn patterns will never completely disappear.
When it comes to our relationship with food, the pressure to do everything “right” can be overwhelming.
If you want to lose weight in 2023 or simply make healthier choices, you could become bogged down by outdated diet tips that are proven to be detrimental to your health. One such dieting tactic is to skip meals altogether to lower your daily calorie count and, in theory, lose weight.
Despite this strategy seeming fail-safe – eating fewer calories surely leads to weight loss – contemporary nutrition experts warn against it.
Read on to find out how skipping meals could not only damage your health but also prevent you from meeting your weight goals in 2023.
Starving your body can cause you to crave high-fat, high-sugar foods
According to the NHS, one of the greatest issues with skipping meals is that ultimately, it can cause your body to crave high-sugar or high-fat foods.
When your body is hungry and you’re ignoring its messages by refusing to eat, your blood sugar levels may dip to a less-than-optimum level. Once this happens, you will naturally crave sugary foods and may find yourself reaching for desserts or sweets that provide instant relief.
Whereas, planning and preparing healthy meals as part of your daily routine can keep your body “happier”, reducing the chances of your hunger levels reaching the point of intense sugar cravings.
Slow-release energy can be provided by energy-rich foods like grains, nuts and rice, which keep your body satisfied for longer than high-sugar foods.
Skipping meals could lead to disordered eating
Our diet-centric culture can create anxiety around what we eat, and worryingly, according to the London Centre for Eating Disorders and Body Image, hospital admissions for eating disorders have risen by 84% in the past five years.
Purposefully skipping meals on a regular basis can become part of an addictive cycle. Even if you do lose weight, underfeeding your body over a long period of time can cause:
- Hair loss
- Muscle wastage
- Low energy
- Chronic headaches
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Obsessive feelings around food.
If you feel concerned about your eating habits, it is best to speak with a mental health professional or contact a specialist charity, such as Beat, who can help.
Undereating can diminish your energy resources and prevent you from exercising
It is a well-documented fact that combining a nutritious diet with regular movement can help you become healthier overall.
While undereating might cause you to lose physical mass – and spur you to continue the unhealthy practice – it will also diminish your energy levels, which can affect all areas of your life.
In order to exercise safely and effectively, it is important to fuel your body. Losing weight without working on strength can make you feel lethargic, create poor posture, and prevent you from exercising regularly.
If you are not keen on vigorous or intense exercise that involves a gym membership, some alternative forms of exercise include:
- Long walks
- Swimming at your own pace
- Tai chi.
However, skipping meals can prevent you from working on your skills, whether in a team sport or solo exercise. Exercising while hungry can be dangerous and may cause you to feel lightheaded or sick.
Plus, your body will struggle to build muscle when underfed.
So, eating before and after exercise can help you maintain your muscle mass while improving your fitness and weight.
Nutritional changes can be a great alternative to just calorie counting
One of the most short-sighted diet tips that many people still believe in is the simple act of calorie counting.
While keeping track of your calorie intake is no bad thing, as long as you allow variation when needed, the number of calories you consume is not the only tool you can use to measure health.
For example, most women need around 2,000 calories a day to live healthy, functional lives; men need around 3,000 calories to do the same.
If you ate your daily calorie count in just pizza and potatoes each day, your body would likely respond by gaining mass and craving alternative nutrients. Plus, you’d use up your calorie count rather quickly, likely resulting in bouts of extreme hunger.
Instead, eating 2,000 or 3,000 calories of a balanced diet can produce the results you want. Eating a diet that consists of a mixture of food groups that approximately reaches your daily calorie count is likely to help you maintain a healthy weight, digestive system, mood, and energy levels.
Overall, finding your rhythm when it comes to food can be challenging. While skipping meals could seem like a quick fix to weight or overeating issues you might have, the long-term viability of this strategy is limited. Exploring healthier ways to slowly reach your goals could be more constructive.
This article is no substitute for advice and should not be treated as such. To determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances, please contact a health professional.