What happen when you skip meals?
Do you know someone who skips meal on regular basis due to any important meeting, customer or any other engagement? I am sure you would have skipped meals too due to any unavoidable situation. In my opinion it is fine if you skip meals occasionally due to some urgency but if it is a regular feature, it might have adverse effects.
As I am a health and wellness consultant, I often come across obese clients who regularly skip meals in order to reduce their weight. They eat very less but still find it very difficult to reduce weight. Is it the right way to reduce weight?
First let’s understand the law of nature. Our body is governed by the day and night cycles. During day time, our body is involved in digestion and metabolism while at night repair work is being done.
As soon as the sun rises in the horizon our body wakes up. As the sun moves through the day, its heat increases and the metabolic power of our body also rise. As we move towards sunset, metabolic power of our body reduces and digestion becomes slow.
Let’s take an example. Suppose if the sun rise at 6 am, metabolic power of our body starts growing and at its pick at 12 noon and starts reducing towards evening and is at its least by 6 pm. Therefore we should not take heavy meals after 6 p.m. because the digestion process becomes slow.
As a clock needle takes one round in one hour, our metabolic clock take one round in one and a half hour. So in every 24 hours we have 16 cycles of 1.30 hours each. If we eat after a gap of every alternate cycle i.e. after every 3 hours, it is good for our body. Even if we eat after a gap of 4 such cycles i.e. after 6 hours, it’s fine but if this gap is more than 6 hrs, it gives a signal to the body that food is in scarcity. This may lead to many metabolic changes in the body such as :-
Acidity is one of the common problems when you skip your meals. In a research experiment by Russian scientist Dr Pavlov, he used to ring bell at specific time to serve food to the dogs. Dogs used to become hungry at the same time and start salivating just by ringing bell even if food the food was not served. Similarly if you have your lunch at 2 pm daily and then you start skipping it, acid gets produced in your stomach at the time of lunch. Production of acid without food in the stomach may burn the lining of stomach. This is called as ulcer. So skipping meals may lead to ulcer in the long run.
Another problem which may occur because of skipping meal is piles, fissures. If a person is too busy the entire day and don’t eat properly until evening, he realizes that he is very hungry by evening, so he eat his meals in a hurry without chewing food properly. Suddenly large amount of food enters his system. This kind of food is not properly broken-down by enzymes. Before the body can handle or digest this food, the person goes to sleep.
This undigested food gets rotten in the intestine and next morning as usual he gets up late and rushes to office without clearing his bowl. This slight unclean feeling of bowl is called as low grade chronic constipation. If the same habit continues over the years, this may lead to piles and fissure, a condition where the journey to toilet is very painful and full of blood.
Diabetes can yet be another problem when you skip meals. If you skip your meals, by the evening you will be very hungry. In hunger, you would not be able to eat something like salads as it takes longer time to chew. So you will end up eating some processed food low in fiber or high sugar food. You would crave for sweets because your blood sugar will go down due to long gap in meal and having sweet food will make you feel good instantly. Until your brain would realize that your stomach is full, you would load your stomach with desserts after dinner. This high sugar food at night may cause insulin hormone imbalance in your body which may further lead to diabetes after several years.
4. Weak thyroid
Thyroid gland is the master gland of metabolism. In order to understand this better, let’s take an example. Suppose your monthly income is Rs. 50,000 and suddenly you lost your job. Now you start looking for another job and manage to get a job but just for Rs. 25000 per month. What will do now? You would probably reduce your expenses and move to a smaller rented house in cheap location. You might stop going to shopping malls, movie, eating out etc. to save every possible penny.
Similar when you don’t eat food for more than 6 hours in waking time, your body feels that feminine has come. Your thyroid gland which is a metabolic regulator would slow down all metabolic functions in your body. This will lead to slow digestion, constipation, dry skin, hair fall etc.
In this situation a person would not reduce weight because the body wants to clinch to the fat stored in the fat cells even on a low caloric diet. Therefore skipping meals may also be the reason of weight gain.
Another problem could be rise of stress hormone. Suppose you are walking in a corridor and suddenly you see a snake in front of you. What happens? Your breath stops, muscles becomes stiff, heart starts beating faster, blood pressure becomes high, you lost hunger, you lost your sensation etc. All this happen due to a stress response.
Skipping meals can create similar kind of response. Stress on daily basic may lead to muscle pain, back pain, neck pain, high blood pressure etc.
If you skip your meals, not only metabolic changes but psychological changes also happen in your body. When you are hungry for a longer duration of time, you get irritated and irritation may spoil your relationship at work place or with friends and family. Further this may lead to depression also. When you are hungry and not able to eat, you start feeling deprived of life and negative thoughts come to your mind. Eg. Why am I doing so much of work, if I can’t eat on time? I earn so much but I can’t enjoy my food. I have lot of money but no time. I work and everybody else enjoys. Why the hell am I living… better to die than this life.
So skipping meals may lead to depression also. We feel happy when we know that the life is in our control but non-availably of food creates an impression that minimum basic requirement of life is not being fulfilled. Food is basic requirement of life.