There's that dreaded point in every diet — for me, it's after the first 10 pounds — when you start to slack off a little. You skip lunch one Saturday, and later that night at a restaurant with your husband, you're so ravenous that you order the salad, the soup, the entrée, and two glasses of chardonnay. Uh-oh, you think, I've blown it. And then you really blow it — by sampling half the dessert cart. To avoid facing the bad news, you go incommunicado with your scale.
What's wrong with skipping breakfast (or any other meal) if I'm not hungry?
When you wake up in the morning you've probably gone about 11 hours without eating, and since your body uses calories as fuel, you'll need to refill your tank right away. While it's tough for your body to get going when you're running on empty, skipping breakfast is even harder on your brain. Most of the cells in your body can store energy up for lean times, but your brain cells need a constant supply of carbohydrates to function, and your reserves are certain to be low after an all-night fast. Lunch and dinner are just as important.
Why do I feel sleepy after a big lunch?
Large meals force your body to use precious energy stores for the huge task of digestion. Blood rushes to your gut, robbing the rest of your body of oxygen and nutrients. Afterwards, you may not feel like eating again for several hours. If you wait too long for dinner, you're more likely to overeat again. Soon you're stuck in a cycle of feast or famine in which your cells, like your body, are always either overloaded or starving, leaving you constantly fatigued.
What kind of snack is best for a quick boost?
Eat snacks that contain members of different food groups. Pretzels and crackers may be convenient, low-fat snacks, but they won't get you very far when you're feeling poky. These processed carbohydrates are broken down almost instantly, giving you the same brief blood sugar spike that candy does. Fiber, protein, and fat take longer to digest, evening out your metabolism and protecting you from those energy highs and lows. Nuts have all three; they're the perfect mini-meal. Fruit and yogurt are other good choices. Also try adding a slice of cheese to a whole-wheat cracker or dipping a carrot stick in peanut butter.
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