Why you should stop for lunch

A recent email to Healthy U from a group of Year 11 students in Innisfail asked this great question: Why should I eat lunch?

Since we were children we've all been told "breakfast is the most important meal of the day".  But lunch is equally important.  It doesn't matter how old you are, eating regular meals throughout the day is an important part of staying healthy.  

Skipping meals means we miss an opportunity to fuel our body with the energy and nutrients it needs to function well.  Just like a car without petrol, your body will slow right down without the right fuel.  Eating regularly will give you the energy you need to help your body function on busy days.  And while skipping meals may sound like a great weight loss strategy it can actually have the opposite effect.

Diabetes Queensland dietitian Alison Bennett said skipping meals can confuse our bodies.

"While our brain may know that we've chosen to skip lunch because we'll be eating dinner in just a few hours, our body doesn't know when it will get its next meal, which can cause it to go into survivalist mode," she said.

"This means our metabolism slows down to make the most of any fuel stores we have, and then when we do eat again, the body stores away extra fuel as fat just in case it has to go for another long period without food.

"If weight loss is your goal, you definitely don't want your metabolism to slow down."

Eating at least three meals every day will help keep your metabolism ticking along nicely.

A good lunch will include a mix of foods from the five groups.

"You want to make sure that your lunch has some grain foods like bread or pasta, some vegetables or salad and a small amount of lean meat," Ms Bennett said.

"Sandwiches are obviously a great choice but packing some leftover dinner can also add some variety.

"Top it off with a piece of fruit and some low fat yoghurt, milk or cheese and you have a perfectly balanced lunch that will keep you fuelled until dinner time."