Is Skipping Lunch Bad for You?

Jenny Acheson/Stockbyte/Getty Images

While breakfast is given the reputation of being the most important meal of the day, eating lunch is just as essential to staying healthy. Going too long without food denies your body glucose, the sugar that supplies your brain with energy. Skipping lunch also slows down your metabolism, leads to overeating and makes it difficult to meet your nutrient needs for the day.

Reasons for Skipping Lunch

Time restraints are a common cause of skipping lunch. When you're busy getting yourself ready for work and the kids ready for school, packing a lunch may be the last thing on your mind. When you get to work, you realize that you don't have a lunch and you're too busy to go get one. If you're a stay-at-home mom, your kids' needs often come before your own. By the time you're finished preparing lunch for everyone else, there is no time left for you.

Many dieters make the mistake of skipping meals because they think it will lower total calorie intake and promote weight loss. If this describes you, think again.

Effects of Skipping Lunch

When you skip lunch, your body slows down your metabolism. The purpose of this is to decrease calorie burn in an effort to conserve these calories for later use. This process hinders weight loss. Successful weight loss comes from supplying your body with the right nutrients by eating healthy meals regularly.

When your body does not have access to glucose, which comes from the foods you eat, it turns to glycogen, the stored form of glucose in the liver. While glycogen serves as a backup source of energy, it only lasts for so long. Once glycogen stores are depleted, your brain does not have access to glucose. As a result, your ability to concentrate decreases, and you may have difficulty focusing.

Lunch Ideas

If weight loss is your goal, prepare healthy, satiating meals that provide your body with plenty of nutrients and little sugar and saturated fat, instead of skipping meals. Opt for a sandwich made with lean protein, like turkey, chicken or tuna, on whole wheat bread. Top with lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard or light or fat-free creamy dressing. Prepare a salad with plenty of vegetables, a handful of nuts and a hard-boiled egg. Top your salad with a flavorful, light creamy dressing.

If you skip lunch because you think you don't have time to sit down and eat, portable lunch options may be just what you need. Spread peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla and roll it up. Wrap it with foil and peel as you eat. If you aren't a fan of peanut butter and jelly, deli meat roll-ups work well too. Put some Greek yogurt in a plastic container and add fruit, nuts, granola and a little cinnamon. Put pureed soup, like butternut squash, tomato and carrot, in a cup with a lid and sip it while you're on the move.

Timing Lunch

Plan at least a half hour in your day to sit for lunch. If you are a working mom, most jobs allow an allotted time for you to sit and have lunch. While you may be tempted to skip lunch to get caught up with work, don't.

If you are a stay-at-home mom with little time to spare between changing diapers, feeding the kids and errands, plan your lunch time around your kids. Sit down to lunch when your kids do. Develop an eating schedule that works for you and get your kids into the habit of a regular lunchtime.