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The Unseen Consequences: Understanding the Effects of Skipping Meals on Health

Optimal digestion time between 7 am to 9 am according to Oriental Medicine

The Prevalence of Meal Skipping Among Youth and Adults

Skipping meals is a real problem. A report of the Schools Health Education Unit in the UK gives us a scale to problem. They surveyed 83,000 10 to 15-year-olds about their lifestyles and found that this has now become extremely common. On the day of the test, 31% of girls aged 14 and 15, 24% aged 12 and 13 and 12% of 10 and 11-year-olds admitted eating absolutely no breakfast at all. 18% of the older group had also skipped lunch the day before.

This pattern is by no means restricted to young girls and is surprisingly common even amongst adults. So what is the big deal? So what if I miss the odd meal or two? Surely I'd lose a little weight.

The Misconception of Weight Loss Through Meal Skipping

Ah. Well here is the problem. People miss meals for many reasons, perhaps they are too busy or stressed or feel unwell, but there sometimes seems to be the erroneous idea that skipping meals will stop any gain in weight.

Let's take a little look at what happens when we eat breakfast in order to try to understand this from an Oriental Medicine point of view.

Understanding Digestion from an Oriental Medicine Perspective

Your stomach churns away whenever we eat and begins the process of digestion. To do this well, it needs to be in a fairly good state. It needs to process whatever arrives and send it onto the intestines. The body like the rest of the world around us goes through daily cycles and it is believed in Oriental medicine that the time of day your stomach has the most capacity for digestion is roughly between 7 am to 9 am. If you eat within these times, your stomach is at its optimum peak of the day and should sift through the food without exhausting all of its energy supplies.

The Importance of Breakfast in Energy Conversion

As well as passing on the digested food, it also has other duties according to Oriental medicine. It transfers the raw energy of the food into real energy that we can use to move our muscles all over the body. This is just what your body desperately needs after waking up. Like a car, it needs power to get it moving. Without any food, everything still appears to function perfectly well but is quite literally running on empty.

The Dangers of Breaking the Stomach's Routine

The routine of the stomach is also an important one. If the routine of digestion is broken often, the the function of your stomach will start to get weaker. It will process food slower and instead of passing it through to the intestines efficiently, it will retain more and more of something the ancient Chinese called 'damp' or excess body fluids. You know you are accumulating 'damp' when you put on weight or feel bloated. The more you break the stomach's routine of regular meals, the more when you do eat the stomach will store more 'damp' i.e. fat.

The Unexpected Weight Gain from Skipping Meals

So if weight is the issue, rather than not eating at all, you need to make sure what you eat is not going to cause your digestive process to generate the retention of body fluids. Otherwise, by not eating some meals, you may end up with the opposite effect to the one desired!

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