8 Diabetes-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD on November 22, 2017Written by Juliann Schaeffer on May 26, 2015

Overview

Starting out the day with a wholesome breakfast can benefit just about anyone. This healthy habit is especially important for people with diabetes. There’s even evidence to suggest that eating a healthy breakfast can support weight loss, which can positively improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.

“Some studies find that breakfast eaters are slimmer, have overall diets with greater nutritional quality, and have less insulin resistance,” Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, told Healthline. Weisenberger is a Virginia-based registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and author of “Diabetes Weight Loss Week by Week.”

Skipping breakfast may be associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis published in Public Health Nutrition in 2015. Regular breakfast consumption may even be used as a prevention tactic.

Know your (carb) numbers

Everyone with diabetes should know their numbers, or the amount of carbohydrates they should aim to eat at every meal. Because this is so individualized, speak with your doctor if you don’t already know your numbers. Your doctor and dietitian can provide guidance. These target goals may be expressed either as grams of carbohydrates per meal or number of exchanges per meal.

Knowing your numbers is important when planning your meals. “Sometimes people with type 2 diabetes are more insulin-resistant in the morning than at other times of the day, but this is not always the case,” said Weisenberger. “[Carb goals are] individualized based on preferences, blood sugar control, blood sugar goals, medications, and more.”

Once you know your numbers, stock your kitchen with diabetes-friendly breakfast staples. While breakfast is important, choosing a healthy option when you’re short on time can be difficult. Keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy foods can help you avoid impulse eating.

Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a great on-the-go option. To save you time in the morning, make a batch early in the week. All you’ll have to do in the morning is grab one on your way out the door.

Though people with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease, research has shown that eating six or fewer eggs a week doesn’t significantly impact cholesterol. Buying anti-inflammatory omega-3-rich eggs is even better.

Oatmeal

Unsweetened oatmeal is another great breakfast staple. Not only is it fast and easy to make, but studies also suggest that it may help decrease insulin resistance in some individuals. Add nuts or seeds, a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, or berries to incorporate some additional food groups. These toppings also increase the fiber and protein, all of which help provide a more subtle increase in blood sugar rather than a spike.

For easy preparation, use a rice cooker to make enough for several days, then portion out into single-serving containers.

Muesli

Uncooked oats, such as muesli, are another great breakfast choice. They have an added benefit, said Weisenberger. “[They] contain resistant starch, so less carbohydrate goes into the bloodstream. Also, resistant starch is good for the gut, gut bacteria, and insulin resistance.”

English muffins

A whole-grain English muffin is another quick option. Top it with a tablespoon of one of the following:

You can buy extra English muffins and store them in the freezer. Then just defrost one and heat it in the toaster when you’re ready.

Greek yogurt

Unsweetened low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt mixed with fruit is another good way to get the morning going. Greek yogurt has more protein and fewer carbs than traditional yogurt. It’s a great option for people with diabetes.

Consider buying single-serving yogurts to help control your portions. If fresh produce isn’t practical for your lifestyle, stock your freezer with frozen fruit. Just be sure to choose products with no added sugar, and skip the fruit juice.

Omelets

An omelet is a great choice for breakfast, especially if you’re eating at a restaurant. One large egg contains at least 6 grams of protein. When building your omelet, skip the bacon, sausage, and cheese. Instead, add avocado and your favorite veggies.

French toast or pancakes

If you’re hankering for French toast or pancakes while out at breakfast, ask if it can be made with whole-grain bread. You can also make them yourself at home with your whole-grain options at home. Just remember to watch your portion size and toppings. Top your French toast or pancakes with a tablespoon of peanut butter or no-sugar-added fruit instead of sugary syrup.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is another great option for breakfast. As with yogurt, you can add fruit or nuts to create a more balanced meal.

The takeaway

No matter what you’re eating, it’s important to measure your blood glucose both before eating and two hours afterward to learn the effects of any food or meal. If your morning fasting blood sugar is high, it may be due to a variety of other factors, such as poor quality of sleep, stress, or inadequate medication.

A high blood sugar in the morning doesn’t mean you should skip breakfast, though. There are many delicious ways to make a healthy breakfast that’ll help you manage your blood sugar. If one meal doesn’t work for you, have fun exploring other options.

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