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The Effects of Skipping Meals With Diabetes
Missing a meal here or there isn't uncommon, but it's not wise -- especially if you have diabetes. Keeping your blood sugar level at a normal level is vital for managing the disease. What you eat -- and don't eat -- has a substantial effect on your blood glucose. Skipping meals puts you at risk for developing low blood sugar, which can have drastic repercussions. If you're trying to lose weight, work with your physician to develop an eating plan that takes your diabetes into consideration.
Balancing your food consumption with your medications is vital if you're diabetic, whether you're talking an oral drug or using insulin injections. Both of these treatment methods require sticking to a consistent eating schedule. You may not be consuming enough carbohydrates -- which are broken down into glucose -- if you're skipping meals. Missing meals, especially if you take insulin or an oral medication, can raise your risk of developing low blood sugar, according to Oklahoma State University's Janice R. Hermann, a registered dietitian.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can be a potentially dangerous health event for diabetics. You may develop headaches, dizziness, sweating and fatigue due to the low level of glucose in your blood. Your cognitive function and memory may also be impaired. Some of the more drastic effects of hypoglycemia include seizures, an irregular heartbeat and difficulty with speech. Consuming a sugar-rich food or beverage, such as orange juice, can increase your blood sugar quickly in minor cases, but you may need medical attention in more severe situations. Taking the correct amount of your medication and eating on schedule can help prevent these episodes.
Missing meals may also increase your risk for developing gallstones. Most gallstones are made up of hardened cholesterol. Diabetics are more likely to have high triglyceride levels, which raises the risk of gallstone development, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. You can increase this risk even more by not eating regularly. Both skipping meals and fast weight loss can increase your chances of having gallstones.
Healthy Weight Loss
Reaching a healthy weight can be considerably helpful in managing diabetes, but skipping meals to keep your caloric intake low is not only dangerous but also ineffective. The combination of fasting and low blood sugar can increase overeating later, which can counteract your weight loss efforts, the University of Maryland Medical Center cautions. Healthy weight loss requires a diet filled with foods that everyone should consume, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean protein sources. A physician or registered dietitian can help you determine the best plan of action for you.
- Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service: Diet and Diabetes
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Hypoglycemia
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Gallstones
- American Diabetes Association: Making Healthy Food Choices
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diabetes Diet
- Alexander-Cherepanov/iStock/Getty Images