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Skipping Meals with Diabetes

By Ruchi Shah, MS, RD, CDN

Since we were children, we were told that skipping meals was not good for you. For those who have busy schedules, skipping meals is very common. Usually, it’s not a big deal if you occasionally skip a meal if you don’t have diabetes. Skipping meals is definitely not recommended when you have diabetes.

Skipping a meal can affect your body’s balance. With diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, your body is already in a state of imbalance. Skipping a meal can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Both states are highly undesirable and can be dangerous.

Not only does skipping meals affect your blood sugar, it also tends to lead to increase caloric intake at your next meal. As shown in a study conducted by Cornell University, patients who skipped meals were less likely to make healthier choices during their next meal. It makes sense since those who skip meals then consume larger meals later on due to extreme hunger. They tend to overcompensate for a lack of caloric intake during the previous meal.

In addition, this extreme hunger leads to choosing carbohydrates which satisfy the “hungry cells” of the body. The carbohydrate food group has the most impact on blood sugar. This continuous over consumption of carbohydrates, due to hunger, leads to short term hyperglycemia and long term damage to the body.

Studies have shown that skipping meals may not only affect caloric intake for the next meal, but also may increase blood glucose levels even during the next mealtime.

When you don’t feel hungry, it is important to check your blood glucose. It is recommended to have three well balanced meals which follow the My Plate guidelines. Awareness of carbohydrate consumption is extremely important for those diagnosed with diabetes. If you have any questions regarding your blood sugar or carbohydrate intake, contact your physician or dietitian.

Ruchi Shah is a Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at rs2522@cornell.edu

 

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