Is it unsafe for a diabetic to skip a meal?

Sheila Dunnells
Addiction Medicine
As a type 2 Diabetic, I never skip a meal. As a matter of fact, my two biggest meals are breakfast and lunch-- both containing some protein. I don't skip meals because I get the "shakes, " that awful and sudden drop in blood sugar that results in trembling and light headedness. I am a very controlled eater, so I don't have much reserve. I never eat white things for breakfast. They are what I call air-food: white bread, bagels, cereal... things that taste great but won't keep your blood sugar even at all. As a result of watching my intake, my readings are usually under 100. And, I am on a half of a pill to control my sugar. Incidentally, my favorite meal for breakfast is homemade soup.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Merely having diabetes doesn’t make it unsafe to skip meals. I skipped breakfast myself just this morning.

I know, I know… it is the most important meal of the day…

However, certain classes of diabetes medications, especially the family called sulfonylureas, work hard at lowering your blood sugar whether you are eating or not. As long as the glucose lowering action of the medication is balanced with sugar intake from meals you remain in a healthy blood sugar state.

The sulfonylureas include Glucotrol, Amaryl, and Micronase, among others.

If you are on one of these, skipping a meal can be very dangerous as the med will keep lowering you blood sugar and the amount of medication your doctor choose for you is probably based on the assumption that you will be eating three squares a day. Skipping a meal has the same effect as one person getting abruptly off of a teeter-totter at the playground. Right. You come slamming down. Thump. Ouch.

In the case of blood sugar the slamming down comes in the form of a low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which is uncomfortable at best and life threatening at worst.

Of course, if you take fast-acting insulin and skip a meal after taking a shot, the same thing will happen.

The bottom line is that if you are on a medication that has glucose-lowering action that is independent of your actual blood sugar you should avoid skipping meals. Should you be forced to miss one, you should be hyper-vigilant and test your blood sugar more frequently until you eat again.

You know, now that I think about it, I am rather hungry…

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.