Q: I’m having a hard time eating breakfast. I don't like eggs or yogurt and have been a cereal guy all my life. Can you give me your thoughts on oatmeal and shredded wheat — which spike my blood sugar dramatically even when I don’t add sugar to them — and possibly suggest a decent breakfast?
A filling, balanced breakfast is one that’s high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Even though you don’t like eggs or yogurt, there are plenty of nutritious combinations you can experiment with.
You mentioned that shredded wheat and oatmeal spike your blood sugar. These are considered high-fiber carb options. Fiber slows your digestion, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels ().
However, these foods may still cause a blood sugar spike in people who are particularly sensitive to carbs.
Smaller Servings of Carbs
There are a few factors to keep in mind when you’re planning a filling breakfast that promotes blood sugar control. First, focus on the number of carbs you’re eating. Oftentimes, people tend to eat a large portion of oatmeal or cereal like shredded wheat.
This can lead to blood sugar spikes. To ensure you’re keeping healthy portions, try measuring out 1 serving of dry oatmeal (1/2 cup or 45 grams) or shredded wheat (1 1/4 cup or 52 grams) for a week or two. This will help train your eye to recognize what a single portion looks like.
Another important factor is nutrient pairing. For blood sugar regulation and weight loss, it’s a good idea to always pair carbs — such as oatmeal — with a protein or fat source.
Protein is the most filling nutrient and helps slow digestion, which prevents blood sugar spikes. Adding protein to meals has been shown to increase fullness and decrease overall food intake (, ).
Healthy fat sources like avocados can help increase fullness and stabilize blood sugar as well ().
If you usually eat plain oatmeal with no added protein sources, this could lead to blood sugar spikes — especially if you’re using a sweetener like maple syrup or honey. Adding a healthy protein source — such as nuts, nut butter, or seeds like chia, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds — is an excellent way to boost the nutrient value of your breakfast.
Breakfast Combos to Try
Here are some ideas for filling, nutritious breakfast combos — free of yogurt or eggs — that can help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you energized throughout the day:
- Savory oatmeal. 1/2 cup (45 grams) of rolled oats cooked with 1 cup (240 ml) chicken broth. Top with half of a sliced avocado, 1/2 cup (125 grams) of black beans, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) of shredded cheese, and 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of salsa.
- Quinoa porridge. 1/2 cup (45 grams) of quinoa, 1 cup (240 ml) of milk or non-dairy milk, topped with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of natural almond butter, 1/2 cup (75 grams) of blueberries, and 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of chia seeds.
- Avocado toast. 2 slices of sprouted grain toast — such as Ezekiel — topped with half of a mashed avocado, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) of feta cheese, and fresh, chopped scallions.
- Overnight chia pudding. 1.5 tablespoons (21 grams) of chia seeds, 3/4 cup (180 ml) of almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon (16 grams) of natural peanut butter, and 1/2 cup (75 grams) of fresh raspberries.
Jillian Kubala is a Registered Dietitian based in Westhampton, NY. Jillian holds a master's degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. Aside from writing for Healthline Nutrition, she runs a private practice based on the east end of Long Island, NY, where she helps her clients achieve optimal wellness through nutritional and lifestyle changes. Jillian practices what she preaches, spending her free time tending to her small farm that includes vegetable and flower gardens and a flock of chickens. Reach out to her through her website or on Instagram.