Can Skipping Breakfast Raise Your Diabetes Risk?

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By Karen Cicero for Completely You

Is it just me, or has spring been insane? Work seems crazier than usual, plus there are so many weekend obligations coming up: weddings, Fathers’ Day, baby showers and my daughter’s play. I think I skipped dinner once, lunch twice and breakfast four times last week!

It doesn’t sound like a bad thing. (Who knows, I might even drop a couple of pounds before swimsuit season.) But I just ran across a new study that’s making me question whether I should seem so nonchalant about missing meals.

Harvard researchers tracked the eating habits of nearly 30,000 men for 16 years. They found that the guys who routinely skipped breakfast were 21 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who ate something -- anything! The researchers aren’t sure why breakfast and diabetes risk are so closely connected, but they speculate that prolonging the time in between meals causes a higher spike in insulin levels once you do chow down.

Whether you’re too busy, trying to lose weight or are just not genuinely hungry, “there’s really no good reason to skip breakfast,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, registered dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life. Here’s how to fix it.

Breakfast Barrier No. 1: No time.
If this is your issue, stock your kitchen with healthy grab-and-go options, such as low-fat yogurt, whole-grain crackers (avoid ones with brown rice syrup; see why here), bananas, apples, peaches and low-fat string cheese. Hard-boil a batch of eggs on Sunday and keep them in the fridge for weekday breakfasts. “Don’t get so caught up in what you’re eating that you avoid having anything at all,” says Blatner. That’s not an excuse to have a giant cinnamon bun, of course. But don’t sweat it if you don’t think your meal is the perfect balance of carbs, protein and fat.

Breakfast Barrier No. 2: No morning appetite.
If you don’t wake up hungry, you’re probably having too much for dinner or a bedtime snack, or just eating too late, says Blatner. Try reducing how much you eat at the end of the night, and chances are your stomach will be growling in the morning. And even if you’re not ready to eat at 8 a.m., it’s better to eat at 10 a.m. than to wait until 12 p.m., she says. Stash oatmeal packets, nuts, peanut butter and raisins in your desk in case you do leave the house on an empty stomach.

Breakfast Barrier No. 3: You’re trying to shed pounds.
Blatner reminded me that skipping a meal to lose weight is a bad idea. Nearly 80 percent of successful dieters eat breakfast daily. (Find out more about what winners in weight loss have in common.) Eating breakfast prevents you from going hog wild at lunch or being tempted by the co-worker who keeps chocolate at her desk.

I’m convinced that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, and I need to make eating it a priority. Today, I managed a banana and a couple of the mini whole-grain waffles I made for my daughter as I rushed out the door to catch the bus to New York City. What did you have for breakfast?

Karen Cicero  

is Completely You’s Need to Know blogger. A health journalist and magazine editor with more than 15 years of experience, she has contributed to such publications as Prevention, SELF and Health, and she has edited the dental column for Heart & Soul magazine. She loves to cook, read and ask lots of questions (which is why she’s writing this blog).

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