When it comes to regulating blood sugar, we often hear that coming up with breakfast ideas is a challenge.
You may be wondering, if you’re sticking to a low carb diet plan, what kind of healthy breakfast should you be eating?
Or if you’re new to diabetes or prediabetes, you may be wondering if foods like whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereal or scrambled eggs make a good breakfast.
- Recap your diabetes management goals and breakfast comparisons
- Provide a list of diabetes friendly breakfast foods – the No & Yes options
- Inspire you with diabetic breakfast ideas and recipes
Your Diabetes Management Goals
Your number one goal with diabetes is getting down to a blood glucose that’s in a healthy range, and trying to keep it there.
Ideally, that is under 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/l) 2 hours after meals.
If you’re testing 2 hours after breakfast and your blood sugar levels are higher, you can definitely work on what you eat for breakfast, which will help you lower your levels.
Let’s compare two different breakfasts.
2 regular pieces whole grain toast (mostly carbs) – 25g carbs, 136 calories, 2.6g fiber
1 bowl (1 cup) whole wheat cereal (mostly carbs) – 25g carbs, 113 calories, 3.2g fiber
1 glass orange juice (all carbs) – 26g carbs, 112 calories, 0.5g fiber
Carbs: 76 grams
Fiber: 6.3 grams
It sounds pretty crazy but not surprising that this is a commonly consumed breakfast – one that many people consider healthy.
However, with the above breakfast, you will likely find your blood sugar numbers 2 hours after a meal are high (over 140 mg/dl or 7.8 mmol/l) – and it is easy to see why. All those carbs!!
Remember, the nutrient that influences your blood sugar levels the most is carbohydrates. So the solution is to cut down on the carbs to get a better after-meal reading.
Mixed veggie egg scramble (recipe below) – 11g carbs, 249 calories, 4g fiber
…with 1/2 avocado, diced – 8.5g carbs, 160g calories, 7g fiber
…and 1/2 tomato, diced – 2.5g carbs, 11 calories, 0.75g fiber
Carbs: 22 grams
Fiber: 11.75 grams
With this breakfast menu you will be consuming far less carbs, which will be much better for your blood sugar levels.
You will still be consuming substantial calories, the difference however, is the calories are all in the form of nutrient-dense ingredients that will provide you with more vitamins and minerals – that means better health and better blood sugar.
Plus, you’ll be eating almost twice as much fiber – that’s a win-win for blood sugar!
You’ve probably heard that fiber is good for blood sugar and that certainly is true. But there is a common misconception that whole wheat or whole grain foods are high in fiber. Sure, they are higher in fiber than most ‘white’ foods. But, natural whole foods are often much higher in fiber (and better for blood sugar!).
So, now that we’re starting to open your mind about thinking differently about breakfast (with your goals in mind), let’s look closer at some ‘No & Yes’ breakfast foods.
Common Breakfast Foods Nutrition Facts
NO/MAYBE BREAKFAST FOODS
If you choose to eat the following items, make sure you eat small portions and monitor your blood sugar levels closely to evaluate how they affect you.
Oats: are often recommended as a healthy breakfast food. After all, they contain protein and fiber that’s meant to help lower cholesterol levels, right?
Well, yes, oats do contain fiber and protein. But… they mostly contain carbohydrates.
While some people can tolerate eating oats in the form of oatmeal or porridge, most people do better without oats. And most people are surprised that cutting out oats gets them lower blood sugar numbers.
Steel cut oats are really no different. Oats are oats and contain high amounts of carbs.
Whole wheat products: whether it’s bread or cereals, whole wheat products are mostly carbs. And they are generally high in carbs, too.
For instance, one slice of whole wheat bread contains around 13 grams of carbs and one small bowl of whole wheat cereal contains around 25 grams of carbs.
Fruit juice: is a no no. When you juice fruit you are basically injecting your bloodstream with a fast fix of sugar, and that only leads to one thing – blood sugar spikes you don’t need!
Breakfast cereal: can really get you into trouble. Majority of options that line the supermarket shelf are jam-packed with carbs and “added” sugars. Not much going on there in terms of valuable nutrition.
Breads, bagels, donuts etc: flour-based foods are also very high in carbs and high in glycemic index too. That means when you eat them, your levels will most likely go up, if not skyrocket in some cases.
One of the most effective ways to lower blood sugar levels is to – cut out bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and flour-based foods.
YES BREAKFAST FOODS
Dairy products: cream cheese, cottage cheese and regular cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella make an awesome breakfast addition. These are all low in carbs and higher in protein and fats – all of which helps stabilize blood sugar.
Milk and plain Greek yogurt are fine too, but don’t overdo it. These are a little higher in carbs compared to cheeses. In terms of milk, you can choose either full cream or skim milk. Same goes for yogurt. Just stick to the plain yogurt options, as many others are loaded with sugars, flavors and preservatives.
Eggs: Now before you ask the question most people do (won’t eating eggs raise my cholesterol and lead to heart disease). The answer is, no, eating eggs does not cause heart disease, and that includes eating the yolks.
You don’t have to stick to eating egg whites because the yolks contain valuable nutrition such as vitamin D and choline, and they are not bad for cholesterol or heart health.
In fact, research shows the opposite – eating eggs everyday can improve your cholesterol and heart health, even when you have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
For breakfast, you can include:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Scrambled eggs
- Poached eggs
- Fried eggs
Or make any egg dish of your choosing.
Try this Mixed Veggie Egg Scramble.
Fresh fruit or frozen fruit: adding a bit of sweetness to your breakfast can make it more pleasurable, but only if you choose the right fruit – mainly berries.
You can safely eat:
- Fresh cranberries
Bacon: in moderation bacon or turkey bacon is fine. It is a low carb food that won’t influence blood sugar. Just remember though, bacon is a processed meat so it’s not ideal as an everyday food.
Vegetables: we always encourage people to include vegetables at every meal, including breakfast.
Vegetables are high fiber and provide vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
While it may seem strange or unappetizing to eat veggies (at first), they can be included in many ways. And you’ll soon be surprised how much you enjoy them!
- Add veggies to a breakfast scramble or casserole
- Make a veggie filled omelet topped with cheese
- Pack veggies into egg muffins
- Eat leftovers for dinner – a soup, stew or stir fry
Nuts & seeds: are high in fiber, protein and healthy fats that can help sustain your energy all through the morning.
Make a blood sugar-friendly muesli with nuts and seeds. You can also make muffins, cakes and bakes with nut flours such as almond flour or flaxseed meal.
And, you can include nut butters such as peanut butter and almond butter – dip your celery or carrot sticks. Or place some nut butter in a smoothie for added thickness, protein and flavor.
Diabetic Breakfast Ideas
Egg Based Breakfasts
- Filled with veggies, chicken, cottage cheese, bacon, tomato
- Scrambled eggs
- Poached eggs
- Hard boiled eggs
- topped with cottage cheese
- Egg Muffins
- Filled with mushrooms and cheese
- Spinach and tomato
- Soft boiled eggs
- Use chicken strips or steamed asparagus for yolk dipping
- Veggie egg slice
- Crustless quiche
Try these Spinach & Tomato Egg Muffins
Non-Egg Based Breakfasts
- Pancakes – made with almond or coconut flour
- Berry muffins
- Cereals made with nuts, seeds, coconut, and topped with berries
- Berry smoothie
- Coffee smoothie
- Cottage cheese with berries and nuts
- Oatmeal made with chia seeds, almond flour and protein powder
- Baked beans made with green beans, bell pepper and tomatoes
- Breakfast burrito wrapped in lettuce instead of bread
- Soup – any type makes a great breakfast
- Leftovers – you don’t have to eat ‘breakfast’ foods for breakfast, after all, it is just another meal!
- Yogurt, nuts and berries
- Muesli made with nuts and seeds
- Low carb breads – make breads at home or purchase low carb breads online – top with your favorite toppings or as a cheese melt, toast or sandwich
Try this Bircher Muesli
Breakfast can be normal with diabetes, just a new normal. A normal that doesn’t include many of the traditional breakfast foods – because they are high in carbs and the more carbs you eat, the higher your blood sugar levels are likely to be.
That doesn’t mean going carb free. Vegetables also provide carbohydrates – the type of carbs and plenty of fiber that supports optimal blood sugar control.
With that list of diabetic breakfast ideas above, you can see that you won’t feel deprived and really won’t get bored – you’ll just be enjoying different foods.
Even without tradition types of cereal and toast, there are still tons of things you can eat!