We’ve all been there. The alarm didn’t go off so now we are rushing out the door without breakfast. Work is too busy and we can’t break for lunch. The kids have to be at three different sporting events in the evening so we miss dinner. Sometimes these things happen. But when you have diabetes, it is extra important to remember that skipping meals can be dangerous.
Here are a few reasons why skipping meals can hinder your work towards better controlling your diabetes.
High and Low blood sugars
Riding the ups and downs of blood sugars is hard. But skipping meals can make it even more unpredictable. Try eating carbohydrates within each of your three meals at approximately the same time each day. This gives you a steady intake of glucose and keeps your medications or insulin working the way they should. Irritability, tiredness and headaches are symptoms that no one wants to deal with.
Skipping a meal may throw off the body’s balance between food and medication leading to hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic states. Your physician likely prescribed your unique medication or insulin regimen based on your individual needs and meal schedule. Following this as closely as possible is the best way to work towards improving blood glucose levels.
Once we skip a meal, we set ourselves up to overeat at the next meal. By that time we are so hungry that it can be hard to stay in control of portions and even healthy meal choices. Meal planning can be very helpful to avoid these things. If you have a pre-cooked or prepared meal ready to go, you will be less likely to dive into a pre-dinner snack. Often in this case, we choose something high in carbohydrates such as potato chips. If overeating is done often enough, it can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Undesired fasting glucose numbers
Many have heard about the dawn phenomenon where fasting blood glucose is high in the morning. Some people may skip breakfast due to a high fasting level. On the contrary, eating breakfast and then lunch and dinner at regular times can actually help maintain more consistent blood glucose levels. 1
When you do not eat enough, your body does not have the means it needs to make energy. This leaves you feeling sluggish and sleepy. You may have a hard time focusing or even run out of gas during your workout. “The effect physical activity has on your blood glucose will vary depending on how long you are active and many other factors. Physical activity can lower your blood glucose up to 24 hours or more after your workout by making your body more sensitive to insulin.”2 Therefore, you must also be vigilant about eating well throughout the day and monitoring your blood glucose during physical activity.
Tips to remember
- Avoid skipping meals
- Try meal planning, especially on particularly busy days
- Eat 3 meals per day, at approximately the same time each day when possible
- Speak with your physician if you have any questions or concerns regarding your health or diabetes control