Is It Bad Not to Eat Lunch?

Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Kids who are on the go may not stop to eat, but cutting out lunch isn't a wise decision. Your child needs the energy she gets at lunchtime, and skipping lunch makes her less effective for the rest of the day.

Consequences of Skipping Meals

Skipping meals reduces your child's ability to pay attention, making her less effective at school in the afternoon. It increases the chance of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which can cause headaches. If your child doesn't have anything to drink at lunchtime, she may become dehydrated, which causes headaches, fatigue and other symptoms. Finally, skipping meals makes her more likely to snack later in the day, which can lead to weight gain.

Skipping Meals and Weight Control

If your teen is skipping lunch to try to lose weight, she probably won't see long-term results. While skipping lunch temporarily reduces her caloric intake, it also makes her very hungry, increasing the chance of overeating later on. Skipping meals also slows her metabolism, which is why it's also important to never skip breakfast. Encourage your child to eat a light, healthy lunch and add some physical exercise to her day, but not skip meals.

Quick, Healthy Lunches

Lunch doesn't have to be elaborate or time-consuming. Consider making a sandwich, providing whole-wheat crackers and lunch meat, microwaving leftovers, heating a cup of soup or offering a pre-made salad with creamy dressing. Add some fresh fruit or vegetables and water or skim milkfor more nutrients and fiber. If your children aren't hungry enough for a big lunch or if a heavy lunch leaves them feeling sleepy and sluggish, offer a healthy snack and plan for them to snack again in a few hours.

Lunch on the Go

On those occasions when your child has a legitimate reason to skip lunch, stash healthy snacks in her backpack to satisfy hunger pangs and maintain energy levels. Portable, healthy snacks include yogurt, string cheese, whole-grain crackers, whole fruit, fresh vegetables and single serving dips, unsalted pretzels, air-popped popcorn, dried fruits and nuts or whole wheat pita bread with hummus. Stash a refillable water bottle in the backpack, too, so your child can stay hydrated all day.