There are days when you may skip a meal in order to meet a deadline or to complete a household chore, and there are days you skip meals just because you do not feel hungry. Sometimes, we skip meals with the hope that it might help you lose weight—an irregular pattern caused by guilt – a compromise to even out the additional calorie intake because of the pizza you ate or the cake you devoured the night before. While these could be isolated instances, the problem starts when you fall into a pattern of skipping meals regularly.Also Read - 6 Rules Every Person with Diabetes Needs to Follow This Festive Season

Right from inducing lower blood-sugar problems to over-eating, skipping meals is not an ideal solution for anyone. Skipping meals can also lead to a drop in protein levels – an essential macronutrient that aids in building and maintaining muscle health. Also Read - 7 Essential Nutrients For a Healthy Immune System

If you are a habitual meal skipper, take note of these possible ill effects on your body, according to Dr. Ganesh Kadhe, nutrition medical affairs at the global healthcare company, Abbott:

1. Drop in sugar levels: Skipping meals can result in a sharp drop in your blood sugar levels which in turn makes it difficult to maintain focus on what you are doing.

2. Makes you ‘Hangry’: Drop in blood sugar levels and hunger can result in you being ‘irritable’ and ‘snappy’ through the day – which is not good for your nerves and overall mental wellbeing. Skipping meals can lead to mood swings, lack of focus, irritability, migraine, and emotional disturbance leading to compromised quality of life. This, in time, can also result in serious behavioural modifications leading to depression.

3. Tendency to overeat: When you finally decide to break your fast, you will tend to eat more than you would have actually eaten otherwise, thus leading to overeating.

4. Protein deficiency: According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study, about 60 percent of adults who did not meet the recommended amount of protein daily reported skipping at least one meal. It was seen that more than 40 percent of adults who did not meet the protein recommendation ate fewer than three meals per day. Protein signals strength and energy: Those not meeting the protein recommendation were more likely to encounter physical limitations, such as sitting for long periods or difficulty in getting into or out of bed.

5. Nutrition void: In the longer run, skipping meals could lead to nutritional voids in macro and micronutrients leading to reduced strength and stamina. This could further lead to long term deficiencies, impaired immunity and weight gain.

Here are ways in which you can ensure the right intake of nutrition and become more mindful about meals, according to Dr. Kadhe:

1. Bring balance: Opt for a wholesome well-balanced meal that provides complete nutrition to your body. Good nutrition is critical to support a healthy immune system. There is a strong relationship between poor nutritional status and compromised immunity. While you are at it, make sure you are including protein foods, like chicken, seafood, eggs, nuts, beans or dairy, and aim for about 25-30 grams per meal.

2. Add protein-toppers to meals: Spread hummus on your sandwich, toss beans into your salad or add diced chicken to your pasta.

3. Snack healthy: Instead of reaching for a handful of chips, opt for a protein option like nuts, dry fruits or yogurt; or go for a whole fruit guava, kiwi fruit, or blackberries which are rich in protein – thus giving you the much-needed energy and boost. You could also opt for avocado smoothie or peach slush if you prefer chilled options.

4. Incorporate nutrition drinks: Nutritional shakes are a great option for adults who are not able to get enough protein through food or need an easy, on-the-go option; choose an oral nutrition supplement that offers more than just protein to ensure balance in your diet. For a fulfilling day, eat healthy and eat at regular intervals