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Does Skipping Meals Cause Bloating?
Posted 11 months ago by Jo
A recent report in The Times newspaper stated that a staggering 25% of Britons skip breakfast at least three times a week, with only 40% of the country's population eating breakfast daily. The poll, carried out by breakfast brand Moma, showed that 1 in 5 people became irritable through hunger as a result of skipping breakfast. As nutritionist Miguel stated on Twitter, “Missing breakfast has effects on metabolic and hormonal levels”, leading to a state becoming known as 'hangry' (a combined effect of missing breakfast, work and commuting stress leads to being both hungry and angry!).
Skipping breakfast can lead to a 'hangry' state - hungry and angry!
As both this poll and studies suggest, skipping breakfast can cause you to start the day off on a bad note, but missing any meal is not advisable. It can have implications for your energy levels and mood, as well as causing digestive problems such as bloating.
So, how might skipping meals lead to bloating?
Skipping meals may trigger bloating
Low Digestive Enzymes
When we start eating, the very act of chewing kick starts our digestive juices, in the form of enzymes, into action. Digestive enzymes are responsible for digesting our food along the entire length of our digestive tract. When we skip a meal, these digestive enzymes are not produced in sufficient quantities which can then lead to poor digestion and trigger bloating. To read more about how digestive enzymes can help with bloating, click here.
Poor snack choices
Skipping meals can lead to a sudden dip in blood sugar levels, particularly upon exertion, which can bring on a sudden desire to eat. When you are feeling light headed and shaky, it is likely you will opt for less healthy high sugar options for that 'quick fix', such as sweets, chocolate and biscuits. Sugar itself is a key contributor to bloating as it can act as a food source for bad bacteria, producing gas. You can read more about the effect of sugar on bloating here.
Overeating at meals (and too quickly!)
If you skip a meal and approach your next meal feeling ravenous, you are likely to overeat which can then lead to a feeling of fullness and bloating. You are also more inclined to eat rapidly to satisfy your hunger pains, which can make it more challenging to listen to your body’s fullness and satiety messages. Eating quickly can also cause us to swallow more air than we should during meals. The stomach struggles to distinguish between air and food, responding to only the volume consumed, which can lead to increased bloating.
Skipping meals can lead to an increased desire for foods rich in carbohydrates. The body uses carbohydrates as an energy source and as skipping meals leads to reduced calorie intake and lower blood sugar levels, the brain tells the digestive system that an urgent source of energy is required, often in the form of starchy carbohydrates. Many people find that carbohydrates can trigger bloating more than a balanced meal based on protein and non-starchy vegetables as the body can struggle to digest them.
The science behind a good breakfast
Research tells us that skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain, so it is definitely worth building a nutritious breakfast into your daily regime and starting the day fuelled and ready to face any challenges ahead. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that skipping breakfast leads to health-compromising behaviours in both teenagers and adults. These include an increased likelihood to smoke, infrequent exercise, frequent alcohol abuse and high BMI.
In another study, it was reported that children who ate breakfast on a consistent basis tended to have superior nutritional profiles than their breakfast-skipping peers, and that breakfast eaters were generally less likely to be overweight (despite consuming more calories). It also suggests that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function relating to memory, test results and school attendance.
A healthy breakfast of oats, nuts and fruit will support your digestive system
Everyone is different
It is important to note that as everyone is unique, different approaches may work for different individuals. Some people, for example those with severe digestive discomfort, may feel they benefit from skipping meals as a solution to help reduce bloating.
A helpful solution for most people is to eat small, regular well balanced meals which will also support energy levels and mood, as well as reducing digestive problems such as bloating.
A Keski-Rahkonen, J Kaprio, A Rissanen, M Virkkunen and R J Rose. (2003) Breakfast skipping and health-compromising behaviors in adolescents and adults. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, 842–853.
Rampersaud G, Pereira M, Girard B, AdamsJ & Metzi, J. (2005) Breakfast habits, nutritional status, academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Volume 105, Issue 5, May 2005, pp. 743-760.
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