Breakfast is an important meal - it effectively kicks in your metabolism and gets your body going. Breakfast stimulates the brain and aids in greater focus and concentration.
According to healthcare experts, your breakfast should contain some fiber and protein. So what can a diabetic eat for breakfast without risking high or low blood sugar levels? Some research has also determined that diabetics who eat breakfast have a reduced tendency to overeat through the rest of the day, which may make it easier to manage your diabetes.
Before creating your own weekly breakfast menu, consult with your physician. Your options may differ depending not only on the type of diabetes with which you’ve been diagnosed, but age, weight, and of course, likes and dislikes when it comes to food choices.
Diabetic breakfast ideas – make it easy
When planning breakfast menus, keep in mind that carbohydrates and sugars tend to contribute to blood sugar spikes. If you’re trying to lose weight to better manage your diabetes, you also want to decrease fat intake. Since diabetes also increases your risk of developing high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions, you’ll also want to watch your sodium intake.
So what’s left?
When it comes to your breakfast ideas that are not only healthy but also tasty, be willing to tweak your options for best results. So, what’s the best approach for a diabetic when it comes to that first meal of the day?
Choose items that are high in fiber but low in carbs, sugars, and salt.
It’s challenging at first, but don’t get discouraged. Once you gain familiarity with the choices still out there for you, you’ll soon find ways to enjoy breakfast whether you’re in a rush, looking for an energy boost, or to quickly raise glucose levels (blood sugar) so you don’t feel lightheaded or shaky first thing in the morning.
Note: While it’s a good idea to stay away from high-sugar foods or beverages, a small amount of something sweet, such as orange juice or soda can give you a glucose boost if you wake up feeling woozy. Low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia) can leave you feeling not only lightheaded but can also promote confusion, heart palpitations, headache, blurry vision, and difficulty speaking.
Fiber (soluble and insoluble) in the diet aids with weight control and leaves you feeling full longer and tends to reduce consumption of empty-calorie foods. Soluble fiber foods have the potential to improve blood glucose tolerance and levels through its ability to delay glucose absorption. Some examples of soluble fibers include:
- Oat bran
- Fruits (especially citrus fruits)
As a double bonus, soluble fibers also have the potential to lower cholesterol levels and are part of a heart-healthy diet.
Need a quick energy or glucose boost?
Looking for a quick energy boost first thing in the morning? New diabetics often believe they can’t consume any sugar, but this is not exactly true. Remember that sugar is a form of carbohydrate. You have ‘simple’ sugars such as those found in milk and fruits, and refined sugars, found in table sugar and some processed honey and so forth.
Consuming sugars found in fruits is not the same as consuming sugars found in many breakfast cereals, candies, and soft drinks.
Of course, high blood sugar levels are to be avoided with someone diagnosed with diabetes, but every person’s body may react differently
Opt for simple sugars for that quick energy boost, or if you’re in a hurry to get out the door.
In a rush?
Just because you’re diabetic doesn’t mean you can't eat good food, even if you’re in a rush in the morning. One of the easiest and simple breakfast meals that will help keep your morning blood sugar on an even keel is to go with a trusty bagel – you can even opt for a cinnamon raisin bagel - spread a bit of low-fat ricotta cheese on it and sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon, then pop it in a toaster oven or broiler for a minute and you’re out the door!
Note: Diabetics should not skip breakfast!
A bowl of unsweetened cereal is another option, sprinkled with any number of sweet spices – think cinnamon or allspice as an example. You can also substitute bananas or raisins, or even sweet spices (nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom) as a sugar replacement in recipes for your favorite whole wheat muffins.
It's always good to opt for whole grain or wheat bread choices that provide fiber but still have a reduced impact on your blood sugar levels. You might even give quinoa or whole-grain oatmeal a try.
Add a sprinkle of walnuts to your whole-grain cereals or as a mid-morning snack, which also offer you beneficial nutrients, including protein. Choose almonds, cashews, pistachios, or peanuts, but opt for unsalted.
Want something cold? Try a cup of reduced fat or fat-free cottage cheese or yogurt with fresh fruit such as bananas or berries sprinkled in.
Note: Avoid dried fruits, which often contain concentrated natural sugars, which may trigger a spike in blood sugar.
Your options for a healthy breakfast are only limited by your imagination. Though it's also important to keep in mind, there are still some breakfast foods you should food.
Breakfast foods to avoid
Avoid ‘the whites’ for breakfast food choices - this includes items such as such as white bread or puffed rice cereals. While carbohydrates are necessary for overall body functions, diabetics should avoid carbohydrates that contain added or refined sugars, such as those found in foods like cakes, donuts, and biscuits. Watch those high-sugar energy drinks and specialty coffees and shakes, which may wreak havoc on your glucose levels.
Just because you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean you have to give up dairy. Instead, choose dairy with reduced fat or opt for fat-free choices. You may notice a difference in ‘thickness’ between whole milk and skim at first, but soon you’ll adapt and it’s just as tasty and fortified as ‘regular’ milk. The same goes for yogurts and cottage cheese.
As a new diabetic, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about options for breakfast. You still have plenty of tasty and nutritious choices for breakfast that will be easier to identify as you adapt your lifestyle.
The American Diabetes Association website is also an excellent resource for nutritional advice for both new and ‘experienced’ diabetics. You’ll also find lots of ideas for breakfast menus or items online – just be sure to verify them with your physician before you adopt them into your meal plan.
Being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy good food. You just have to choose more wisely.
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